Our Congressional Friends

January 7, 1867


Politicians arguing over the division of voting privileges to be amended in the future to the Constitution. Some even believe in whites being disenfranchised in the south (rebellion) states.


By reference to the telegraphic news it will be seen that our affectionate friends in Congress are still devoting themselves without mitigation to our present and future situation. The difficulty now seems to be as to how we are most to be benefitted. Mr. Spalding is satisfied that the constitutional amendment is the best and most reasonably thing in the world for us; that it will afford us the supremest felicity to dishonor ourselves and our posterity; and that the moment we do this we are more than ever entitled to their affectionate regard and to representation in that Heaven on earth, the Federal Congress. Thad. Stevens and his followers, on the other hand, are not at all disposed to crown our earthly felicity by this expedient. They are determined that we shall go through the devious path of territorial reconstruction. Stevens continues to deny that the adoption of the amendment would be the final act. He considers that it would "leave the country open to an influx of reconstructed rebels." "To ask rebels to vote on the amendment," said he, "is to stultify ourselves." He declared that the United States Government "held the South as conquered States," and in tended" to regulate them by law." His law is all for the blacks. He proposes to disfranchise the whites and enfranchise the blacks, who, under his bill will become the voters and law makers for the South. For territorial representatives none are under it to vote who cannot swear that after Lincoln's amnesty proclamation in 1864, they ardently desired the restoration of the Union, and to submit to the authority of the Federal Government. This would exclude whites generally leaving in the hands of negroes and a few whites, who, with rare exceptions, are entirely untrustworthy and degraded, the entire matter of the regulation of public affairs. Nevertheless, all hope is not gone by a great deal. Malice and brutality in Congress may And their course obstructed by a sufficient number of persons having some latent feeling of humanity--some respect for their own race--to stand up against the extravagant measures they propose, and, with the President's veto, to defeat them. And, besides, we have the Supreme Court, with the Executive, both now comparatively conservative and the former apparently determined to respect the Constitution and to approve no law in contravention of it. Ultra Radicalism has a great deal of difficulty in its way, and we much to hope for.
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Walker Black




“Our Congressional Friends,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/484.