Bryant, Charles W. (ca. 1830–unknown)

By: Paul M. Lucko

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: January 29, 2016

Charles W. Bryant, who represented Harris County at the state Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, was born a slave in Kentucky around 1830. He arrived in Texas after the Civil War and served as a Freedmen's Bureau agent and a minister before winning election to the convention. Though he was a Radical Republican who supported Governor Edmund J. Davis in most instances, Bryant nevertheless opposed the ab initio proposal (see AB INITIO QUESTION), which would have invalidated all legislative enactments that occurred after the state's secession from the Union. Bryant also favored the division of Texas into two or more states and supported constitutional provisions designed to prevent voter intimidation and fraud. He introduced resolutions that would have repealed railroad land grants and charters and prohibited convicted murderers from holding office in the state. He also secured a constitutional provision that legitimated black children born to slave parents. During the convention a mother accused Bryant of raping her eleven-year-old daughter. Although most Radicals supported Bryant's denial, contending that moderate Republicans led by Andrew Jackson Hamilton fabricated the charges, the convention voted by a margin of three to expel Bryant. He was jailed briefly, but the child's mother later dropped the charges against him.

J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Harrel Budd, The Negro in Politics in Texas, 1867–1898 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1925). Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985). James Smallwood, Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans during Reconstruction (London: Kennikat, 1981). Ernest Wallace, The Howling of the Coyotes: Reconstruction Efforts to Divide Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1979).

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Reconstruction
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Paul M. Lucko, “Bryant, Charles W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
January 29, 2016

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