The Reason for the Removal of Governor Peirpoint
April 6, 1868
Arguments as to why Governor Peirpoint is being forced out of his seat are made. Many faults in the reasons are also exposed. Governor Peirpoint cannot be ineligible for election since he was not elected under the Constitution. Moreover, this Constitution also the Governor of Virginia must be a citizen in Virginia for at least five year. The new Governor Wells is not a citizen of Virginia for five years since he remained in the federal army making him ineligible to be Governor.
The Reason for the Removal of Governor Peirpoint.-General Schofield's order appointing Mr. Wells Governor assumes that Governor Peirpoint could not have served another term under the Constitution of Virginia. The General means, we suppose, not that the letter but that the spirit of the Constitution excludes him. The General's construction of the Constitution, right or wrong, is the one that will prevail; and as all the Radical proceedings in Virginia and elsewhere in the South are admitted to be outside of the Federal Constitution, it is hardly worth while to trouble ourselves as to the constitutionality, under our own organic law, of any act of our military masters. Indeed, it is a mere burlesque to pretend that the Alexandria Constitution is the Constitution of Virginia in any other sense than the reconstruction laws are laws of Virginia. But, conceding that the Alexandria Constitution is in force, then Governor Peirpoint is, according to our construction of it, eligible to election under it. That instrument was adopted since his election as Governor, and by a special provision in the schedule accompanying it continued him in office until the end of his term. His term expired on the 31st day of December last. He has never been elected under the Constitution, and therefore it cannot be that he is ineligible. The same Constitution provides that no man can be Governor of Virginia who has not been a " citizen" of the State for five years. General Wells been in the State for five or six years; but he could not become a citizen in the sense in which the word is employed in the Constitution so long as he remained in the Federal army. Therefore he has not been a citizen for five years, and is of course ineligible to the governorship, while Governor Peirpoint is not ineligible.
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“The Reason for the Removal of Governor Peirpoint,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 11, 2018, http://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/962.