Mr. Sumner's Bill

December 28, 1869


Mr. Sumner proposes a bill that could leave Virginia without any Legislature at all. The bill's main focus is the Iron-clad oath. If passed, Reconstruction could be prolonged until the end of time.


We have received a copy of the bill concerning Virginia introduced into the Senate last week by Mr. Sumner. The bill is a long one; but its whole object is to require the members of our Legislature to take the Iron-clad oath. So entirely were Mr. Sumner's thoughts engrossed by this one purpose, and so innocent and harmless a diversion does the "swallowing of that oath seem to him, that be has made no provision whatever for filling the places of those members who cannot take it. If his bill were passed as he introduced it, the result would be that we should have no Legislature : for it is well known here, and ought to be to Mr. Sumner, that a large majority of the members of the Legislature are unable to take the test-oath. We have no fear that Congress will pass his bill. The Georgia bill is a mild one compared with it. The Albany Evening Journal remarks that Mr. Sumner's bill might be entitled "An art to humiliate Virginia." It says that his proposition is neither wise nor generous, and that the perfect work of reconstruction may be postponed until doomsday if pursued in such a spirit.
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Jermaine Reynolds




“Mr. Sumner's Bill,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022,