The Amendment

October 19, 1866


Now that there is a proposed amendment to the constitution, the Dispatch is pointing out the provisions it has a problem with. The editors say the reason this amendment will be rejected by the legislatures of all southern states is because it excludes former politicians in the Confederacy of holding office now.


The Amendment The Charlottesville Chronicle thinks it strange that exceptions should be taken to the third rather than to the other sections of the proposed constitutional amendment, and says that the exclusion of old politicians from office would bo no great calamity. We agree with the Chronicle as to the fact, notwithstanding that there are many excellent gentlemen who would be prescribed; but we think It would be highly discreditable in us to exclude them. If they were excluded by act of Congress, or of northern State Legislatures, the question would be a very different one. But for us to exclude men from office because we hare heretofore put them forward as our leaders, and placed them In positions so high that their necks were in danger, would be an act of which we are sure our contemporary of the Chronicle would not be guilty. There is no question which touches our honor or good faith Involved in the other sections. The first contains only the substance of the Civil Rights act which is already in force. The second leaves the regulation of the right of suffrage to the States, providing only that disfranchised classes shall not be represented. The fourth is unobjectionable under existing circumstances, and was reaffirmed by the Conservative Convention at Philadelphia. The fifth is really the section against which we would most strenuously protest If we had any faith in the honor of the northern people. But we have none whatever. We do not for a moment imagine that constitutional provisions will ever prevent a mob of fanatics or enthusiasts from carrying out any scheme which will gratify their evil passions. So that, as we look at it, and as the southern people generally regard it if we are not mistaken, the third section is that feature of the constitutional amendment which will insure its rejection by the Legislature of every southern State. There is not, we suppose, a southern State Legislature the majority of whose members are not excluded from office by this very section. While such Is the case, it is idle for the North to expect that the amendment can be ratified; and while such is the case, It will also be idle to expect the southern voters to elect to their Legislatures none but men who are not affected by this section. We should not like to be the man to go before the people and ask Lee's, or Longstreet's or Johnston's, or Hood's old soldiers to vote to disqualify their old commanders, or to ask the civilians to vote to disqualify our old judges and justices.
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Nat Berry




“The Amendment,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 28, 2022,