The Purse and the Sword

September 10, 1866


In response to Congress' desire to keep representatives from former Confederate states from gaining admittance into Congress, a former Congressmen suggested that President Johnson instruct the treasury not to pay any acting Congressmen because they are not a constitutional body under their current composition and federal money be not wasted on paying member of an unconstitutional body.


The Purse and the Sword.--An old member of Congress has suggested the idea that the President, who undoubtedly, as the Executive, can control the execution of the laws, should direct the treasurer of the United States not to pay another dollar to the members of Congress until Congress shall have rendered itself a constitutional body by admitting the representatives from the southern State. They are entitled to pay only as members of a constitutional Congress, and it is clearly the President's duty to see that the public money is not unlawfully disbursed. We like this plan. It would unquestionably soon bring the Radicals to their senses. The first requisition of the paymaster to Congress which the treasurer should refuse to honor would prove to be excellent credentials for the southern members. The main object of the Radicals is to secure to themselves the handling of the public funds, and they would soon show themselves to be very tractable. Forney, as clerk and public printer, would he placed in the same category, and everybody knows how soon he would "flop over" to the President's side.
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Nat Berry




“The Purse and the Sword,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,