What the Virginia Carpet-Baggers are doing

December 7, 1868


The Dispatch updates its readers on the activities of the despited Carpet-Baggers from Virginia. Apparently they were in DC, trying to keep the continuance of the Freedmen


What the Virginia Carpet-Baggers are doing. A Washington letter in the Petersburg Times, a Radical paper, says that a committee of carpet-baggers and scalawags, (of course this is our translation of its language,) sent from Richmond, were in Washington on the 3d " looking after the interests of our State." ("Our State" is good.) They will urge upon Congress, first, the continuance of the Freedmen's Bureau Virginia "for the present." That is to say, until the Bureau has, by threats bribery, corruption, misrepresentation and fraud, put the scalawags and carpet-baggers in possession of the offices of "our State." Next, " the holding of an election " at the earliest possible moment, at which the people shall vote upon the Constitution as a whole." This means that unless all decent men are disqualified for holding office by a test oath the carpet-baggers and scalawags cannot get places for themselves. They desire a test oath, because they hope by the aid of it to compel the people to vote for them. They show the cloven foot in this. Their motives are patent. They know that the Constitution would be much more popular without than with this oath, and that whilst it might possibly be ratified if the oath were submitted separately, it is not at all likely to be ratified with the oath in it. But they also know that their hope of obtaining office is contingent upon the exclusion of respectable men. [We would remark, in parentheses, that there are a few respectable white Radicals in Virginia, but the number is really so small that it is hardly worth while to make exceptions. We are willing to admit, too, that there are almost innumerable respectable Radicals in the northern States - men who love their own section of the country, and are attached to their native States ] Therefore these hungry birds of prey would rather run the risk of having the Constitution rejected than the risk of having to compete with good men in the elections to come off under the Constitution. They have nothing to lose by the rejection of that instrument. Their fears extend only to the matter of plunder. The Constitution is not worth ratification, in their opinion, unless it is to be of such a nature as to insure to them the offices. That is the whole story. This Washington letter says : " Only five officers in a county are required by it to take the iron-clad oath. The great majority of offices are opened to all citizens, without regard to past offenses." "How this world is given to lying!" This statement is drummed into the ears of members of Congress, and repeated in the Radical papers, day after day, with as much appearance of earnestness and sincerity as if it were true. Yet here before us is the new Constitution, in pamphlet form, as printed by the Rev. J. W. Hunnicutt, the official printer to the Convention, and on page 10 we find the iron-clad oath, and following immediately after it the following requirement : "The above oath shall be taken by all city and county officers before entering upon their duties, and by all other State officers not included in the above provision." It seems to us that if all city and county and State officers have to take this oath, every one in Virginia will have to take it, whether the number be more or less than five. We are not at all surprised, however, to see the Radical papers telling falsehoods about it - not at all - no more than we should be to hear that Beast Butler had done some disgraceful act. " ' Tis their vocation." But we would seriously advise the few genteel people amongst them to beware lest they gain by association a reputation which they would not willingly bear. Here is another piece of news : " It is more than hinted here that General Stoneman has been deceived by parties about him in regard to matters in his department, and his friends say he will do better in the future than in the past." " To do better," in carpet-bag parlance, means to give more of the offices to the needy beggars who have been trying to get into places of profit. We don't believe that General Stoneman is so verdant. He has been in Virginia for several years, and he knows who are the the people and who are the adventurers. He has no need for advice from any one who could deceive him.
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Jacob Markman




“What the Virginia Carpet-Baggers are doing,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1208.