The Edmunds-Willey Amendment Adopted-45 to 16.

January 20, 1870


The admission of Virginia passes, but opposed Senators swear to bring up more amendments to further postpone it.


Special telegram to the Dispatch. Washington, January 19, 1870. Another immense audience was present in the Senate this afternoon in expectation of a final vote on the Virginia bill. The proceedings, until shortly before adjournment, were devoid of special interest, and the debate up to that period was flat and unprofitable, saving the sparring between Senators Sumner and Stewart, occasioned by the former's emphatic denunciation of the election in Virginia as a huge, colossal fraud, and his insinuation that Senator Stewart is interested with the late "slavedrivers," as Mr. Sumner dubbed the Virginians. Senator Stewart repelled the insinuation, and soundly belabored the senator from Massachusetts for reading in the Senate anonymous letters slandering the character of the people and private citizens of Virginia. This was the only parliamentary brush of the day; and though the senatorial gladiators punished each other severely, they were the only excited persons in the Senate chamber. The great interest of the day culminated in the vote upon the Edmunds-Willey amendment. Senators had grown weary of the interminable debate and the triple and quadruple arguments upon the same points by some of their number, and rather than prolong this unprofitable discussion those who had heretofore insisted upon the House bill or the unconditional admission of Virginia were now willing to vote for the amendment; which, after all, does not prolong the admission of senators and representatives, but only requires that members of the Legislature shall take an oath, set forth in the amendment; therefore, when the names were called upon the Edmunds-Willey amendment it was found that forty-five senators voted for the amendment and only sixteen against it. Of the forty-five, about twenty were of the original supporters of the House bill, who, as before stated, voted for the amendment in order to put an end to the controversy and come to a final vote upon the passage of the bill. It is expected that Mr. Drake, Mr. Morton, and Mr. Sumner, will severally offer additional amendments to-morrow, but there is no probability of their adoption, the sentiment of the Senate being, as it appears to-night, overwhelmingly in favor of passing the bill as it now stands amended, and sending it to the House for concurrence. The impression is general that the House will concur, but, nevertheless, those members who seek delay in the admission of Virginia are delighted with the prospect of again having the subject within the control of the House, and declare that they will so manage the bill as to remit the whole matter again to the State, to be again voted upon by the people. It is scarcely necessary to say that this party is not sufficiently strong to put in execution their plan. In the speech of Senator Sumner he introduced letters and scraps of letters, from persons whose names he refused to give, charging upon the people of Virginia as being fit for the penitentiary. Senator Stewart wanted to know if the Senate was a forum for the assassination of characters. He charged Sumner with cowardice in resorting to this mode of attack, and alluded to the fact that "the man Porter, whose record is one of unparalleled infamy," sits here to criticise the acts of citizens of Virginia. When he thus spoke he turned towards Porter, who sat in his accustomed seat upon a sofa in the corner of the Senate chamber. This proceeding drew all eyes towards the man of infamous record, who endeavored to assume an air of indifference, hut utterly failed, for it was plain that he felt sorely mortified. Senator Edmunds's attempt to practically postpone the admission of your senators and representatives by an amendment that they "do not take their seats until the 1st of March" had but few friends, and was ridiculed as a legal anomaly, for, practically, you may come in as a State and go on with your State organization, but you shall not be represented in Congress until the 1st of March, or until it suits our pleasure. General Butler says to-night that when the Senate returns the Virginia bill to the House he will move its reference to the Reconstruction Committee. Mr. Bingham will move that the House concur in the Senate amendments, and it is believed this motion will be adopted. Wallace.
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Charles Simmonds




“The Edmunds-Willey Amendment Adopted-45 to 16.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,