September 7, 1868
The Richmond Dispatch once again takes issue with the Howard Amendment and reconstruction as a whole.They argue that reconstruction in reality allows for the blocking of African Americans not only from running for and holding office but also from voting.They also state that the New York Times is being hypocritical of criticizing Georgia for blocking "negros" from holding office when in reality (the Dispatch accuses)the state of New York of doing the same thing.It is important to understand that these people did no care for African American rights, rather they hated Reconstruction so much that they tried to use one of its defining features against it in the hope to make it seem pointless.
The New York Times declares that the action of the Georgia Legislature in excluding negroes from that body was taken " in defiance of the reconstruction acts." The Times, as is usual with the so-called " metropolitan " journals when such questions are under discussion, goes off half-cocked. It assumes that to be the fact which is not the fact. On the contrary, by an argument which cannot be successfully answered, it is demonstrable that the reconstruction acts provide for the exclusion of negroes from office. And even if they do not, the Howard Amendment does. That amendment has been ratified, according to the Times, in the constitutional mode. It expressly provides that negroes may be prevented not only from holding office, but from voting. But what sort of idea has the Times as to the reconstruction acts ? Does that journal really pretend to think that those acts continue in force in a State which has adopted a new constitution and been admitted into the Union upon an equality with the other States ? Is not Georgia now exactly such a State as New York, and entitled to all the rights which New York possesses? Has not New York the right not only to exclude negroes from office, but from the ballot-box ? And if so, has not Georgia the same right ? What sort of a Union docs the Times think ours is? Does not Ohio prohibit negroes from voting and holding office? These are questions which the Democrats of the North should press upon the consideration of the people of that section. According to the teaching of the Times, this Union now consists of two different kinds of States - one class of them possessing rights and powers which do not belong to the other class. Wo cannot think that the northern people are willing to acknowledge such to be the fact. If it is, then reconstruction is a total failure. The seceded Suites not only went out of the Union, but will never be able to get back into it as the equals of the loyal States. Nevada and Colorado will be entitled to confer the right of suffrage upon the negro or keep it from him, as they may choose ; but Georgia and Virginia cannot even exclude him from office without coming in conflict with an act of Congress. There can be no reconstruction of the Union upon such a basis as this. It would be just as well for Virginia to remain out of the Union as to go into it if the theory of the Times be correct ; for if, after our return into the Union, Congress may still prescribe the qualifications of voters in this State, we cannot perceive what we shall gain by nominally the mixing our relation to the Federal Government.
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“Richmond Dispatch,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 19, 2019, http://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1115.