The Radical Call for a National Convention

July 13, 1866


Southerners suggest to Loyal Unionists that the South's state governments be restructured under the principles of the Constitution.


To the Loyal Unionists of the South: The great issue is upon us! The majority in Congress and its supporters firmly declare that "the rights of the citizen enuberated in the Constitution, and established by the supreme law, must be maintained inviolate." Rebels and rebel sympathizers assert that "the rights of the citizen must be left to the States alone, and muter such regulations as the respective States choose voluntarily to prescribe." We have seen this doctrine of State sovereignty carried out in its practical results until all authority in Congress was denied, the Union temporarily destroyed, the constitutional rights of the citizen of the South nearly annihilated, and the land desolated by civil war. The time has come when the restructure of southern State government must be laid on constitutional principles, or the despotism, grown up under an atrocious leadership, be permitted to remain. We know of no other plan than that Congress, under its constitutional powers, shall now exercise its authority to establish the principle whereby protection is made co-exten-sive with citizenship. We maintain that no State, either by its organic law or legislation, can make transgression on the rights of the citizen legitimate. We demand, and ask you to concur in demanding, protection to every citizen of the great Republic on the basis of equality before the law; and further, that no State government should be recognized as legitimate under the Constitution in so far as it does not by its organic law make impartial protection full and complete. Under the doctrine of State "sovereignty," with rebels in the foreground, controlling southern legislatures, and embittered by disappointment in their schemes to destroy the Union, there will be no safety for the loyal element of the South. Our reliance for protection is now on Congress and the great Union party that has stood and is standing by the nationality, by the constitutional rights of the citizen, and by the beneficent principles of free government.
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Brooke Beam




“The Radical Call for a National Convention,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 3, 2022,