After the Battle
July 13, 1869
It is important for white Virginians to prove to the black citizens of Virginia that they are safe with Walker in power.
"After the Battle"--again. The importance of Achieving success in the recent election was not greater than is the importance of using that success, now achieved, with such morality and sagacity as shall make it abiding and a decisive settlement of troublesome questions lying at Ihc foundation of the stability and prosperity of the Commonwealth. In the exaltation of the hour of triumph let us not forget to secure the fruits of victory, or to preserve that self-control and that moderation which have signalized our conduct in the trials and vicissitudes through which wc have passed. A profound moralist has said that temperance is the virtue of prosperity. It is devoutly to he hoped that we shall practice forbearance towards the negroes, abstaining from malice or vindictiveness against them for what they have done under the lead of bad and designing men, and freely tendering them complete indemnify and oblivion as to the past, that peace and good-will may prevail, and society be disturbed no more by an unseemly conflict between races that ought to dwell together in unity. It is important that we should assure the negroes that the defeat of Wells has not been a disaster to them, but a blessing. Influences and arguments of a formidable kind have been brought to bear on their minds. They have been betrayed into the delusion that there is no safety for them with the white man unless they have the mastory, and that his ascendancy would result in a deprivation of their rights. To be sure, we know that these delusions have no either foundation than the inventions and misrepresentations of those pestilent men who have come down here to stir up strife and make the colored people instruments of mischief. We must undeceive them. Nothing can more effectually counteract the evil teachings of the mischief-makers who have misled them than a magnanimous deduration of purpose on our part to preserve ; inviolate their rights. We are their natural allies and friends, and they should be taught that without harmony between us and them they cannot be prosperous or happy. And not only is it desirable to give the colored people proof of our upright intentions towards them, but it is well worth our while, by a course of forbearance, to show the great constituencies of the North that we have no disposition to make an unfair use of the power which is about lo be committed to our bands: that we are no mischief makers, but well-intentioned, patriotic citizens of the United States; and that therefore there can be no ground for Congress to withhold its assent to the restoration of our Commonwealth to all her rights in the Union. The sure way to prevent a recurrence of the terrible evils through which we have gone is, by our conduct and bearing, to give tbe colored man a sense of security as to all that concerns his happiness and safety. The carpet-bagger will be thoroughly put down it we only improve this golden opportunity and teach tbe negro that he is in the hands of his best friends, who will guarantee him his rights. Let every one of us, in his daily walks, preserve a sense of the duty he owes his State to do what in him lies to bring about a return of good feeling between the two races. And we may rest assured that nothing will be more calculated to impress the negro with our superiority, and make him content to see power given into our hands, than an exalted magnanimity and charity lifted far above the passions and prejudices of the hour.
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“After the Battle,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1416.