The Reconstruction Process.

February 14, 1870


Reconstruction starts to take on a new meaning for Virginians. It means the recovery of Virginia's infrastructure and the rebuilding of its status as one of the great states.


The process of the organisation of the Government thus far has been successful in the line of good sense and conservatism. The reflection of Mr. Taylor as First Auditor was an act of entire propriety and justice. He has proved himself not only faithful by his strict integrity and unimpeachable honor, but he has given the most signal proofs of his ability to discharge the duties of the office. He was retained in the position by General Schofield and also by General Stoneman until, by the order of Congress, all the offices were vacated, and those only who could take the iron-clad oath were put into them. Colonel Stanton was then made Auditor, but was only nominally so, Mr. Taylor being retained as a subaltern, and performing the duties as before Colonel Stanton was appointed. His election was nearly unanimous, and has met with the unanimous approval, we are sure, of the entire Commonwealth. The next basement officer, Mr. Rye, did not receive so unanimous a support, though elected by an overwhelming majority. We consider this result as satisfactory, and calculated to promote harmony and restrain crimination touching past strife. Mr. Rye was one of the bolters from the Republican party in the celebrated Petersburg split in that party, which opened the way for that combination of liberalists and patriots which saved the State from a fate that may be pronounced a hell upon earth. The bolters tied with alarm from the party whose majority they saw was determined to exile from all participation or control in the Government the intelligence, the experience, and integrity, of the State; and they made war upon that majority, and, uniting with the Conservatives upon a compromise platform, helped to defeat the ultra Republicans and save the State from the terrors which they threatened. To Mr. Rye, then, much consideration was due. He showed himself to be more devoted to the public safety and peace than to the party to which he had been attached, and openly denounced it. He has been consistent and earnest. Differing with him in past times as widely as the poles are apart, under these circumstances we regard his reelection as entirely proper, and an act of good faith. There is one thing to be said of him, and that is that he is an honest man. If his honesty has ever been impeached we have not heard of it. Moreover, he has discharged his duties faithfully; and let us not only trust Mr. Rye, but be at peace with him. The election of Mr. McDonald as Secretary of State meets the demands of that office and provokes cavil from no quarter. Thus far, then, things have moved smoothly, and nothing has taken place to disturb the unity of the Conservative party, whose public devotion and admirable forecast have saved the State in the hour of the greatest peril she has ever encountered. We think the time most threatening discord has passed, and that upon the elections that are to be made there can be no bitter agitation-no raking up of passions that it is safest to let alone. We suppose, from the signs, that there is to be no caucussing about the judges, and that the election of those officers will be the free and unbiassed preferences of the Legislature, which we must suppose is anxious to place in those most responsible positions men of known integrity and undoubted ability. In the future elections there will be no embarrassment on account of considering the claims of incumbents. The offices are all vacant, just as though the Government had no previous existence, and we were electing officers to put it in operation. The electors may survey the field without restraint, and elect the best men irrespective of extraneous considerations. Then we may say that everything promises well, and with patience and good sense for a year or, at furthest, two, we may be fully out of the woods, having escaped unnecessary and idle agitations and placed the State upon its proper career to a brilliant future.
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Charles Simmonds




“The Reconstruction Process.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022,