Letter from Mr. Botts
May 16, 1866
Unionist John Botts is criticized for his solution for restoring the nation: Anyone who wants to hold officemust swear that they were never in support of the Confederacy. This enactment would take away life, liberty and property of many men, and anyone who is sworn into office falsely will be punished along with their political party.
Mr. Botts on Reconstruction To aid him in damning himself, we quote from The Republic Mr. Botts' plan for restoring the Union. It needs no comment. Every man of southern feelings and honorable impulses will be apt to make a short commentary of his own upon reading the following. Mr. Botts says: I suggest, therefore, that all these difficulties may be remedied by a simple legislative enactment, which might probably receive the President's assent, and, if not, might be carried by a two-thirds vote of both Houses. I propose, then, in substitution for the report of the committee, that it shall be declared by law--That no person hereafter shall be capable of holding any office, legislative, executive, or judicial, in the Federal or State governments for ten years from the passage of the act, who was over the age of twenty-five at the breaking out of the rebellion without taking the following oath in addition to that now required of all such officers by the Constitution of the United States. I, A. B., do solemnly swear that I have not since the 20th day of December, 1860, [the date of the ordinance of secession of South Carolina,] voluntarily taken up arms against the United States, nor have I advised or encouraged others to do so ; that I have not sought or held office under the Confederate States Government, or of that of any State in rebellion, with a view in any manner to aid the rebellion ; that I have not said, written, or done anything designed or of a nature calculated to alienate the affections or allegiance from the Government of the United States, nor have I otherwise given aid and comfort to the rebellion. Let this enactment be accompanied with an absolute remission, in all cases, of the forfeiture of life, liberty, and property, for the crimes committed by and under the authority of those in rebellion; and let it also be declared that if it shall be ascertained that any person has sworn falsely to obtain or hold any office hereby prohibited, such office shall be absolutely vacated, and the party held liable to a prosecution for perjury.
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“Letter from Mr. Botts,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/158.