The Smelling Committee
John Wallace

The colored members of the Legislature who had heretofore been content with the salary which was provided by the Constitution as their pay now began to learn something of the meandering ways of their carpetbag leaders. They began to inquire how their white brethren could handle so much money, when they got no more pay than they did. Some of the Democrats who were not members of the Legislature informed them that their carpetbag friends from the different counties had traded on their votes in the Legislature ever since they had been permitted to sit in the Legislature as members. The colored members, from this information, began to hold separate caucuses, and finally they elected a permanent chairman of the caucus, and that chairman appointed a committee of three to ferret out all schemes which looked anything like money schemes. This committee was styled "the smelling committee." The duty of this committee was to visit the hotels and private rooms of the carpetbag members and ascertain, as best they could, whether there was anything or things, measure or measures before, or likely to come before the legislature at that session which the carpetbag brother could make money from, and if so to report the same to the caucus. This committee was not to proceed in a body, but each man was to gather the facts as he could get them and report to the caucus in a body. The chairman of the caucus was empowered to inform any party or parties who were in need of votes in the Legislature to pass measures, the number of votes that could be had and the amount required to satisfy the members of the caucus. When any money was received from this source it was to be equally divided among the members. This plan worked for some time but no money was forthcoming. All information that could be gathered by the committee was reported to the chairman of the caucus, who would report what the meaures sought to be passed were, and advised the members of the caucus to vote for them, yet he never reported any money. The members began to perceive that the chairman was getting very flush with money, and they naturally became suspicious that he was playing carpet-bagger on them. A meeting was called and charges presented against the chairman for not having paid over moneys received by him for the benefit of members of the caucus. He at first stubbornly denied having received any moneys for the caucus, but a party who had given him money for the caucus, finding his measure fought in the Legislature by members of the caucus, found fault with some of them, who said they had never received any money from the chairman. The note in which the complaint was conveyed was to the effect that he had made "the boys' a present of ----- dollars which he had handed to Mr. S. The chairman having been convicted of the charge, now declared that the money was made a present to him individually, and refused to make a division. This broke up the caucus arrangement, and after that time each member struck out for himself. All the colored members of the Legislature did not belong to this caucus, but at least two-thirds of them did. This extra session adjourned on the 23d of June.

In the fall of 1869 the grand jury of Leon County attempted to inquire into the reported bribery of the members of the Legislature. It was believed that Littlefield, when he first arrived in the State deposited his money in the Freedman's Savings Bank in Jacksonville. The grand jury issued a subpoena duces tecum to the cashier of the Tallahassee Bank, which compelled him to appear before the jury and bring the books and papers belonging to that institution. The books and papers showed that a large number of the carpetbag members of the Legislature had received drafts from M. S. Littlefield, payable at this bank, which drafts had been collected. The drafts to the different members ran all the way up from two thousand to five and six thousand dollars to each member. No white man got less than two thousand dollars. The books further showed that only two colored members received drafts, and these two fell away down into the hundreds - receiving five hundred dollars each.


Carpetbag Rule in Florida by John Wallace
Da Costa Printing and Publishing House, Jacksonville, Florida, 1888, pages 103-105.