General Canby's Course

July 28, 1869


No legislators in Confederate State's have been required to take the iron-clad oath, but General Canby wants to require Virginian legislators to do so. The people of Virginia disagree with this, and the President did not advise this course of action.


General Canby's Course-- The New York Tribune has the following plain talk : " She is met by a requisition from General Canby that her newly-chosen legislators shall take the iron-clad oath (that they never gave any aid or countenance to the rebellion), which many of them cannot do, and which the members of no Legislature of a reconstructed State have yet been required to. General Grant instructed General Meade not to require it in Georgia or Alabama, and he did not. General Canby was urged by Governor Holden to require it in North Carolina, but would not. We will not review the reasoning by which General Canby justifies this requirement in the case of Virginia, but we assert with entire confidence that none of his superiors--President Grant, Secretary Rawlins, and General Sherman--have directed or counselled it. " Just consider, for one moment, the intrinsic absurdity of the requirement. The Virginia Conservatives say to the President, ' We want to vote for the constitution, and thus to return to our place in the Union; but there are certain clauses thereof which disfranchise and proscribe a part of ourselves; these we want to vote against, and vote down if we can.' The President looks into the matter and says, ' This is reasonable and right; it shall be as you ask.' They proceed to vote, and vote down proscription and disfranchisement by some fifty thousand majority, thus establishing, upon the highest authority, the equal rights before the law of all citizens; and yet., in the face of the verdict, some thirty or forty members of the new Legislature are to be excluded from their seats!"
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Ali O'Hara




“General Canby's Course,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 24, 2022,