The States and the People
July 28, 1866
Southerners are advocates of the Philadelphia Convention because it requires both parties to discuss the issue of their states being readmitted into the Union. White Southerners hope the test oath will be ruled as unconstitutional because it is the root of all power for the Radicals.
We rejoice especially in the prospect of the assembling of the Philadelphia Convention, because that body must take issue with Radicalism upon the great question of the day, : The right of the southern States to equality with all the States under the Constitution, and the additional question which grows out of this : the rights of the people of the States as constituting the States. That Convention, to be against Radicalism, must assume, with Judge Curtis, that the States were entitled to their equal rights the moment the war was at an end ; and they must take the further position that the people of the States, being the bodies politic, must attain to their rights without distinction or restriction different from what may be imposed on the people of all the States. They must do all this, aud they must denounce test oaths as unconstitutional and tyrannical. Nothing short of this will separate them from Radicalism, with its odious doctrines and its oppressions. We have never doubted for a moment that the course of its proceedings would inevitably terminate in this broad and clearly-defined difference. The logic of events must lead them to this. If this be not the result, what is the use of a convention ? What is the use of disputing at all with Radicalism ? If the test oath be proper aud constitutional, why, in God's name, let the Radicals continue in power ? That is the very corner-stone of Radicalism. It is the barrier that excludes from office and power all but Radicals. It is the top root of Radicalism. The Convention must reject it,or they will be nothing more nor less than a Radical assemblage.
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“The States and the People,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed August 8, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/272.