New Reconstruction Plan.
May 31, 1866
The proposed amendment has been agreed upon, including a Civil Rights act and suffrage for blacks. The white Southerners are angry and believe these laws to be violations of the Constitution.
The New Reconstruction Plan. Below is the text of the proposed constitutional Amendment agreed upon by the Republican caucus, and which it is thought will receive the approbation of the President if passed, as it no doubt will be, by the requisite majority of the two Houses of Congress. The southern people may as well examine this proposition carefully, as it is more likely to come before them for their sanction than any of those hitherto brought forward. The first section would make a civil rights act constitutional. The present civil rights act is clearly unconstitutional. The second section concedes that the States have the right to regulate suffrage, but provides that if any State refuse to let negroes vote, it shall surrender a part of its representation, proportioned to the persons so disfranchised. The third section is very objectionable. The last clause, however, redeems it somewhat. The fourth and fifth the south need not oppose; but if we were a large bondholder, we should dislike very much to see Congress assuming that the United States Government is not yet bound to pay its debts ; for if it is necessary to amend the Constitution in order to prevent repudiation, then our credit is at present in a had way. Besides, our experience during the last five years has taught us that the Constitution always means whatever the majority of Congress desire it to mean. As we look upon them, the Freedmen's Bureau bill, the Civil Rights bill, and others, are downright violations of the Constitution. As the Radicals regard them, they are perfectly constitutional. And unless the successors of of the present Radical Congress are differently constituted, they will read the Constitution to suit themselves when their day of power shall come.
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“New Reconstruction Plan.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/184.