The People and their Rulers

June 30, 1869


Radicals are "evilminded." They created "bad feeling between the military commander and the Government on one side and the white people of Virginia on the other." Virginians are good, law-abiding people, and Radicals are trying to disturb their state.


The People and their Rulers. Nothing would more delight the evilminded and the evil-intending ultra Radical--southern Radicals; they are the worst of all had men of that party than to stir up bad feeling between the military commander and the Government on one side and the white people of Virginia on the other. Then these had men would mend their hold upon us, and, if possible, invent new means of insult and outrage to annoy and oppress us. This is their great point of strategy. If they can but place us under the extreme displeasure of men in authority, so that their ears shall be closed against us, then these selfish persons, who seek power only for pelf, would have everything their own way, and prey upon us to their satisfaction, if they can know any such thing as satiety to their greedy appetites. But the day for success in this strategy is gone, we hope. We all know what power is. We may remonstrate; but cannot resist, and could but foolishly defy. We have not done or attempted to do either. The relations between the people and the commanders of this district have always been courteous. Those who have remained here any length of time have said of the people of Virginia that they were a lawabiding and orderly people; and General Shofield said that they were the easiest people to govern in the world. The present commander has been here but a brief time. During that time he has afforded every opportunity for intercourse with the people, and they have freely laid their petitions and complaints before him. He has treated them always respectfully, ln return, he has been treated with like respect. Where any exception has been taken to any opinion of General Canby's, and publicly we know of but one instance : that of imposing the test-oath upon legislators to be elected under the pending constitution--that exception has been taken with entire decorum and courtesy; and any attempt to give to this difference the aspect of contumacy or rancor is itself malicious and vile. The people of Virginia know their exact situation. They will do nothing that would reflect upon their own intelligence and dignity. They are going straight forward on the path of reconstruction, in conformity to law and submission to authority. And those wretched enemies of theirs who, like the Pharisees, seek to accuse them, will find no just ground for their malignity to seize upon.
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Ali O'Hara




“The People and their Rulers,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 3, 2022,