Preparations to Try Jefferson Davis

May 11, 1866


Judge Underwood is attempting to try Jefferson Davis for treason. The Reconstruction Committee and Thaddeus Stevens agree that the amendment needs to be favored by at least nineteen state for ratification.


Preparations to Try Jeff. Davis- Tax on Cotton. &e. It is undoubtedly true that preparations are now being made for the trial of Jefferson Davis before the United States Circuit Court to be held at Norfolk. The Grand Jury, lately charged by Judge Underwood, the United States District Judge, will probably find a bill of indictment against Mr. Davis for treason. But notwithstanding this, Mr. Davis will not be brought to trial unless the President should issue a proclamation withdrawing martial law from Virginia. Chief Justice Chase will adhere to his often-expressed determination not to try a criminal cause in a State where martial law prevails. It appears probable that the House will concur with the Committee of the Whole in the clause of the Revenue bill taxing cotton live cents a pound. The fall of cotton will render the tax onerous and disproportioned to other taxes on productions. There is a spite against cotton-growers. John Randolph hated wool-growers, and said he would go a mile out of his way to "kick a sheep"; and the feeling in Congress against cotton-growing is of the same character. The Reconstruction Committee concur with Mr. Stevens in the opinion that the constitutional amendment requires only the ratification of three-fourths of the States now represented in Congress; that is, nineteen. These are the only States which are to be permitted to vote for Presidential electors. Thus, if the views of the Republican leaders be carried out, the next election will involve the country in as great a calamity as that from which it was supposed we had escaped.
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Brooke Beam


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“Preparations to Try Jefferson Davis,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,