August 9, 1869
First, it is important to recognize that we cannot be too critical of President Grant. He is trying not to favor Republicans over Democrats and vice versa. However, we belive that if General Grant truly wants to represent the people he can not let the Test-Oath hold-- as the people of Virginia have voted against it in the recent election.
General Grant. Those in the South who are inclined to think that the President yields too much to the pressure of the Radicals, not standing up as they believe he ought to for the policy of "universal amnesty and universal suffrage, " but allowing Mr. Boutwell. to give character to the Administration, may be surprised to learn that the extreme Radicals look upon the President with anything but friendly eyes. The telegram in another column tells the story. Indeed it would be impossible for the President so to conduct the affairs of the Government as to please the ultra partisans in either section. He must do the best he can. and trust to the intelligence, the patriotism, and the sense of justice, of the masses of the people everywhere to sustain him. We are hopeful that he will adhere to the declaration with which he commenced his term of office. He declared emphatically that he would have no policy to enforce against the will of the people If he shall make good this profession, he cannot require the test-oath to be taken by the members of the Virginia Legislature; for to do so would certainly be to run counter to the will of the people of Virginia, and also to that of the people of the northern States. Our voters have expressed their wishes at the ballot-box, and the leading exponents of public sentiment in the northern States assure us that the people of that section desire no harsh exactions to be made at the hands of either our people or their representatives. The act of Congress authorizing the voters of Virginia to expel the test-oath from the constitution was equivalent to express permission to elect officers who could not take the iron-clad oath. We do not see how it can be viewed in any other light. It so happened that we elected a Governor and a Lieutenant-Gover-nor who can take this oath, and who therefore are not personally interested as to the result of the attempt to require it of the new officials. But suppose we had chosen, as under the act of Congress we considered we had a perfect right to do, men who could not take the iron-clad oath : will anybody say that they could have been kept out of office on that account ? Would General Candy have had the right to prescribe a qualification required neither by any act of Congress nor by the federal or the State constitution? Such considerations must suggest themselves to General Grant's mind, and if so, it does seem to us: that he cannot possibly sustain General Canby's interpretation of the law. [At the same time let us say that wc can find no law which would even authorize, much less require, General Canby to exact this oath from any official elected under the new constitution.] Wendell Phillips denounces General Grant as "a jockey and a sea-side lounger," because he did not prevent Tennessee from "playing the same game as Virginia." Yet we would fain hope that the President cannot be compelled, even by Wendell Phillips, to forfeit his implied pledges to a longsuffering people who rely upon his strong arm for protection from injustice and wrong. We have done all that we understood either the executive or the legislative department of the Government to require of us up to this time. We are ready to ratify the fifteenth amendment. What more ? Let General Grant answer as his sense of justice and of honor shall dictate to the heart of a military man.
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“General Grant,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1441.