January 2, 1867
Citizens expressing opinions on being readmitted to the Union and if rights will be equally distributed to returning states.
Mr. Joseph Segar has an opinion: and the opinion of Mr. Joseph Segar is--"that the legislature [of Virginia] would, "in certain contingencies adopt the constitutional amendment as the only remaining means of avoiding a worse alter- " native." From what he personally learned in certain interviews with" many members " of our Legislature, Mr. Segar has arrived at the opinion that the said Legislature is likely, here in our own State capitol, to break down with its own hand the last remnant of the Constitution whose principles Virginia endured a long war expressly to maintain, is likely to give up to a Congress at Washington the "power to enforce by appropriate legislation" the pretension of that Congress to dictate to us who shall, or shall not, be citizens of the State--and is likely to brand the stamp of a felonious crime upon all the best and truest men in the community, without exception. This is what Mr. Joseph Segar is led to believe our elected legislators would do " to avoid worse." It is an " individual opinion" he has formed, and whatever may be the grounds and reasons of it, he repeats emphatically--and this is the main point--that "it is his opinion." And if Mr. Segar has opinion, we find that a Mr. McCaleb Wiley, of Alabama, has a conviction. This latter gentleman "has just returned from Washington" too--a city in which men are not likely to adopt convictions lightly. And Mr. Wiley's "conviction" is, "that Alabama and other " unrepresented States would be restored " to the Union on the adoption of the constitutional amendment, and that a liberal "policy would be pursued in reference to " those of our people who labor under political disabilities." Which means that our considerable population of perjured traitors would be liberally dealt with. Such is the conviction of Mr. Wiley, of Alabama. We also have an opinion and a conviction--first, that the Legislature of Virginia will not, "in certain contingencies," do the filthy action above described, notwithstanding the deliberate judgment of Mr. Segar; and next, that if it should so prostitute its functions, and shame and betray its constituents, Virginia would not (with all respect to the convictions of Mr. Wiley) be admitted to representation in Congress, but would still be left out, with her felony stamped uselessly upon her brow with her own right hand. And further, it is our opinion that if Virginia were indeed to do this deed of shame, she would stand alone in her infamy. All the intelligence we receive from the other States of the late Confederacy is to the effect that the more this precious "amendment" is studied--the better its purposes are understood--the more underhand negotiations and hole-and-corner "conferences" are held in Washington by oflicious persons to form opinions and convictions about it, just the more rooted becomes the abhorrence of the southern people at this foul attempt to degrade them. They say let it come, that "worse" with which we are continually theatened, and yet worse and worse--no-thing can be so bad as pleading guilty to a felony first, and then committing a real felony afterwards. Of the various opinions and convictions above expressed, Mr. Segar's, Mr. Wiley's, and our own, the reader will adopt such as he likes best.
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“Opinions Section,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 19, 2017, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/477.