General Amnesty

May 14, 1868


The former Confederate Conservatives agree with general amnesty, but they do not agree with Horace Greeley's remarks allowing "negro" suffrage.


General Amnesty. In his paper of Tuesday Horace Greeley comes out in favor of what he no doubt considers universal amnesty. He says to Congress: "Each returning State sends up a list of citizens whose political disabilities it desires to have removed. Instead of passing special bills, we entreat the Republican majority to frame and enact one general, comprehensive measure which shall fully restore to citizenship and all its rights every person, now disfranchised who has supported the policy of Congress, or who will take an oath, on or before the 4th day of July next, that he will henceforth affirm and uphold the civil and political equality of all citizens, whether made such by birth or by naturalization." Greeley is said to be honest. We shall not stop to question it. But that he is incapable of appreciating the feelings of the southern people is evident enough from the above proposition. As Governor Wise might say, he hasn't the "instincts of a gentleman." He might take for his motto, though in a different sense from that in which it is generally used, Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto- "I am a man, and would " put everything in human shape upon an " equality with myself." White men of education, refinement, good training, and political experience, are allowed to vote in the southern States. But, unfortunately, the negroes are a kind of men, and so Greeley, without regard to the differences between the two races-without reference to the ruin that is likely to follow as a consequence of putting whites and blacks upon an equality in a community where the one race owns all the property and the other is the more numerous, proposes as a panacea for all the ills of the country that all men of all ages and colors shall vote. But the worst feature of his plan of pacification- one insulting to the southern people and disgraceful to Greeley- is the proposal that the southern people shall take an oath that they will never deprive the negroes of the right of voting. It is, of course, useless to argue a point such as this with any man who is base enough to make it- still less with one who makes it under the impression that he is doing a very creditable and liberal thing. Mr. Greeley and his party can very safely adopt such a measure as this, for the southern men who would avail themselves of it would not be enough in number to go to Congress. If Congress would really declare a general amnesty, and at once restore every disfranchised and disqualified man to his rights, it would perform an act which would do more to bring about a real restoration of the Union than would all the reconstruction measures of a punitive kind that it could devise in fifty years. But to tender such a measure as Greeley's to the southern people, and pretend to consider it an olive-branch, is to add insult to the incalculable injury which has already been done us.
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Joshua Hurlburt




“General Amnesty,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022,