Can the South be Kept Out?

May 18, 1866


The North and South are still in complete disagreement over political, commercial and social issues; the North can not continue to prevent eight million white voters from participating in government.


Can the South be Kept Out? The intimate political, commercial, and social relations existing between the northern and southern portions of this Union tender the continuance of any wide difference in their relations to the Central Government a matter of impossibility. That disfranchisement of the south which makes the present great political distinction between them, cannot be maintained any length of time without involving the north likewise. Such dissimilarity of treatment of the two divisions by the General Government must inevitably produce collisions between the different departments of the Government which must either terminate in putting an end to the inequality or subverting the Government itself. The dominant party in the Congress is fast paving the way for the settlement of this question, and for its settlement against themselves and in favor of the equality of rights and privileges under the Constitution among all the States. The holding of eight millions of citizens, in a free representative government, in a state of mere vassalage to the remainder of the Union--the keeping of these eight million merely for taxation, denying them all participation in the Government-- is an anomaly in a professedly Representative Constitutional Republic without precedent in history. No kind of expedient or party machinery can perpetuate such a monstrosity. The ever-recurring party struggles of a country like ours will of themselves compel the enfranchisement of so large a body of men. Its influence in those struggles will not be dispensed with. For the restoration of their rights and equality in public affairs a war of the most determined character must be waged in the north-- a war which would achieve its object or subvert the Government. When Thad. Stevens and his followers are venting maledictions upon "rebels"- wishing them disfranchised for eighteen thousand and sixty years, and sending them to hell, thereto be hedged in with bayonets- they but prefigure that political destiny reserved fur themselves. That the restoration of the south to political equality with the north is indispensable to the national peace, as well as prosperity, is apparent to all dispassionate and reflecting men. The paralysis of the south can but cripple and impede the north, the two sections being a part of the same Government.
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Brooke Beam




“Can the South be Kept Out?,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,