The Virginia Elections
May 11, 1869
Walker should be preferred over Wells in the upcoming elections.
The Virginia Elections. The papers throughout the country continue to discuss the state of affairs in Virginia. A Washington telegram In the New York Herald of Saturday gives the following in regard to the elections. We know not how much of it Is true. It says: "The statement which appeared in certain journals the other day to the effect that representatives of the late Virginia Convention were in this city to see the President proves to be entirely inaccurate, one or two gentlemen from that State may have sought interviews, but they claimed no representative capacity whatever. The committee appointed by the Convention to wait on the President in relation to the submission of the constitution to the people for ratification or rejection consists of Messrs R T. Dutiel, Judge Meredith, Judge Marshall, W. H. Macfarland, General Anderson, and other conspicuous and influential citizens, all chosen with special reference to their holding moderate views, in accordance with the line of policy which controlled the recent Convention. This committee has not yet reached the city, but are expected soon to arrive, and the President has signified his readiness to receive them. Governor Wells had his say some days since about the constitution, and the President has heard also Mr Gilbert C. Walker, who is the candidate for Governor of the other wing of the Republicans. The Conservative committee will ask, it is understood, for a separate vote on the test-oath and disfranchisement clauses, the county organization features, and the provision which denies to the Legislature power to pass relief or stay law for the temporary relief of debtors. The President's views are known to be against the disfranchisement, test-oath, and county organization, and a separate vote will doubtless be given on each. On the stay-law question he is uncommitted, though it is understood that the present military order on the subject, which gives considerable relief to the debtor class, was approved by him as promptly as it was tardily by Johnson. The same state of things still exists as then--embarrassment from a failure of crops and a want of State government--and the President would he willing, doubtless, to see the new Legislature free to acton the question as the interests of the people may require. An important question still remaining to be settled is, whether, in addition to the vote on sections, the vote shall be taken on the remainder of the constitution or on the instrument us a whole. It is argued that the latter would compel many to vote against it who are anxious to have the remainder adopted and a State government organized. " Nothing has been done yet towards a new registration, but it is probable the order for an election will be issued by the latter part of the ensuing week, and a new registration ordered at the same time. Many whites failed to register at the last occasion, and there has been no registration since the autumn of 1567 There will be an addition of twenty thousand whites to the lists and of some thousand negroes, but quite as many of the latter will be stricken from the lists, and the white majority on the lists cannot fall much below thirty thousand. Under the present registration, the whites have some fifteen thousand majority ; but by the apportionment created by the Underwood constitution the negroes have largely the control of the Legislature. This apportionment will be changed, if the "Wells party lose the Legislature, so as to conform to the relative vote of the two races. The late Conservative Convention waived tlie suffrage issue, accepted the situation, and withdrew their distinctive party ticket, headed by Colonel Withers. They meant by this line of policy to pave the way for electing the Walker Republican ticket. The contest is thus narrowed down to a struggle between the Wells and Walker wings of the Republicans, and the friends of the latter claim he will get fifty thousand majority. They expect a considerable vote from various loyal leagues which they control. They will get, probably, the entire Conservative vote, though a few soreheads may refuse to vote at all. The fight for Congress will be mainly between the carpet-baggers and the Walker Republicans. The Conservatives have no congressional candidates in the field, save one, and there is much talk of running negroes against the carpet-baggers in the Norlolk, Richmond, and other districts. "There will be a hot struggle over the Legislature, and more doubt about this than oilier ollicers. Virginians now here say the fifteenth amendment will be ratified if necessary to secure admission. An important point is whether tho election shall be limited to a single day. It is argued that having it for three days tends to extensive colonization and a repetition of the frauds by which the city of Richmond was carried at the last election. The President will weigh this matter and all others very carefully, and give due weight to ill proper suggestions. He is exceedingly anxious for the success ot reconstruction in Virginia, stud his idea is to try the matter there first, and take up Mississippi and Texas afterward. The result so far indicates the policy of his message, and even Governor Wells is at last out in a letter accepting the Grant platform, on which the new movement was based. The election will be held early in July unless there be some change of programme.''
About this article
“The Virginia Elections,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1346.