The Flare-Up about Virginia.
January 12, 1870
The admission of Virginia is a hot topic in Congress. Senators are getting personal in their arguments.
To our surprise, the question of the admission of the Virginia representatives to the National Legislature was broached very promptly upon the reassembling of Congress on Monday. We laid before our readers yesterday morning an extensive and intelligent account of what was said and done on the subject. We had not expected that it would be moved thus promptly; but we take no discouragement from the outgivings that attended the movement. In the House, the subject was promptly brought up on Mr. Bingham's resolution simply admitting our representatives without more ado. The vote, though not in fact upon that proposition, was substantially so; and, though a close one, was, under the circumstances, anything but discouraging. It would be an ungracious act in us to find fault with a friend who endeavored to do us a service. We do not mean to do so. We feel grateful to Mr. Bingham. But we should not close our eyes to facts the statement of which will convert a defeat at least to cause for hope. Mr. Bingham is not in high favor with the controlling spirits of the Republican party. He has not hesitated to show his restiveness and irritation at the policy of his party, and has manifested his feelings in a way that has provoked an impatience that docs not fail to show itself in marks of disfavor towards any proposition of his own. So that his motion in behalf of Virginia, with all the justice and dignity of her claims upon the nation, could not escape the indisposition to give him _clt by the success of his motion. Yet, notwithstanding this, the vote taken showed so near an equality of yeas and nays that had our "friends" the Democrats been present it is probable Virginia would on Monday have been restored to the rights of equality with all the States. In passing, we are sorry to feel called on to remark that it is our misfortune on all great issues in Congress involving our dearest interests somehow or other to lose the aid of the Democrats from their absence, or to fail by their positive votes against us, thus cast in order to make the measures proposed for our humiliation as horrible as possible, and to make out of their horrors as much capital as they can for themselves at home. So that we are not aware that we have profited more by the election of Democrats to Congress than if the whole body were Republicans! To recur to the main point,-irrespective of Democrats-let us note that General Paine, who introduced his bill on Monday, opposed Mr. Bingham's resolution. And yet General Paine's bill adds no new condition to the admission of Virginia. Taking the vote that was cast in our favor, and adding General Paine and the large number of Republicans who will act with him to that vote, Virginia evidently has a powerful strength in the House, and when the proposition for her admission comes squarely up, freed from side issues and personal prejudice, we predict she will pass through the House as a noble ship smoothly gliding from her ways into a placid sea. Nor do we believe that more than a few days will elapse before just such a scene as this will take place, either upon General Paine's bill or upon some other proposition resembling it. It is altogether incredible that Congress will impose harder terms upon Virginia than it has dictated to Georgia -Virginia, which has complied with every requirement of the reconstruction acts; and Georgia, which, in the estimation of the President and Congress, had committed a breach of faith and outraged the reconstruction acts! Turning to the Senate, nothing that took place in that body modified the prospects for the admission of Virginia. Mr. Sumner relieved himself of his periodical issue of unprovoked ill-feeling and relentless rancour. Mr. Drake boiled over his froth of prejudice, which never fails of its insignificant fury when any opportunity is offered. Without it Mr. Drake is absolutely nothing, and charity endures his struggle for vitality with a placid countenance. These were the most rancorous adversaries of Virginia, of course. Mr. Pomeroy could not equal them, but did his best, and that was to have been expected. Messrs. Conkling and Edmunds clearly committed themselves to Virginia without further conditions, bidding an apparently reluctant farewell to the test-oath; and we found two advocates in Messrs. Sawyer, of South Carolina, and Warner, of Alabama, where we had no good reason to look for them, while Mr. Morton, the Achilles of Republican senators, boldly and unequivocally declared in favor of the immediate admission of Virginia. So did Mr. Willey, of West Virginia. On the side of Virginia the manifestations were decided, and from representative men. Against us we had men of no influence and no significance. There were poverty of opposition and richness of support. Behind the speakers of the day stand such men as Trumbull, Sherman, and the body of sensible men and able lawyers whose counsels are not taken wholly from passion and prejudice, and who have some regard for the faith of the Government and the law fairly construed, both of which demand, trumpet-tongued, the admission of Virginia without further conditions. We have not a doubt of the early admission of Virginia. Even Mr. Sumner did not desire a longer postponement than Monday next. We do not predict the day, but it will come soon, and the act will be done by the Republicans in their own way. They do not mean that it shall be done by any irregularity or surprise. They are going to control it, and have what credit there may be in it. This policy throws much light upon the impatience shown towards the attempts to carry the subject through by a coup de main. P. S.-The foregoing article was written yesterday morning. It will be seen that the Virginia question was the subject of further interesting debate in both Houses, and that the Reconstruction Committee reported to the House Mr. Paine's bill. General Grant is still urgent for our admission; and the signs in Congress are still favorable.
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“The Flare-Up about Virginia.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1561.