The Bill Passed

April 12, 1869


The bill authorizing election in Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas passed Congress. Preparation must be taken into acount to improve Virginia's outcome. Last election few registered to vote and even fewer voted. All capable and able voters should vote.


Richmond Dispatch Monday.... APRIL 12, 1869. The Bill Passed. The bill authorizing elections in Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas, as our readers know, passed Congress on Friday last. The Senate's amendments were adopted in the House at about 11 o'clock at night. Three amendments make the adoption of the fifteenth article a condition of the admission of the three States into the Union of equal States, and require a new registration before the election. The act of making the adoption of the fifteenth amendment a new condition of the admission of those States was most ungraceful. Mr. Trumbull properly characterized it as breaking faith with the States named in the bill, and this remark was strengthened by the statement immediately afterwards made by Mr. Conkling that Virginia was unrepresented from no fault of hers, but through a failure on the part of Congress to provide means for holding the elections. He claimed, very justly, that sho had an undoubted right of admission into the Union on the same terms upon which the other States had been admitted. The grand point in this important bill is the opportunity it will afford our people of delivering themselves from the shackles forged for them by the Convention of 1868, with its overwhelming majority of negroes and strangers. It will enable us to get rid of the test-oath, the county organizations, and such monstrous clauses as the President, in his wisdom and fairness, may permit us to vote on separately. That the people can defeat those provisions, if they act wisely and harmoniously, is beyond question. And it would be an act of blindness and madness for them to fail to do so. Preparation should be made with as much promptness as possible to meet this crisis in the affairs of Virginia, for we suppose the President will order an election at an early day. The Central Executive Committee of the Conservative party organized in December, 1869, will be promptly convened in this city to consider the whole matter. We trust that the people of Virginia will profit by their sad experience. In 1867 they lost the Convention by suicidal apathy and sullenness. Some 20,000 or 25,000 failed to register, and a large portion of those who registered failed to vote. Of course the Convention was handed over to barbarism and treachery. Hence the monstrous constitution which General Grant denounces, and the more obnoxious features of which he declares we should by all means vote down. This is altogether in our power. The people have only to recognize the solemn truth that the salvation of their State from the misrule of ignorance and dishonesty depends entirely upon their active participation in the elections. They must register, and they must vote; and they must use their whole influence in behalf of the policy which will best insure the harmony that is indispensable to triumph. That done, the way is clear. Virginia will again enjoy good government, administered by capable and honest men; all her interests will once more flourish, and her people be blessed with peace and abundance.
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Joseph McEachon




“The Bill Passed,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 30, 2023,