Destruction and Reconstruction
January 22, 1867
The North and South are finally starting to agree on topics, seeing that most northern and southern states have ratified the incoming Amendment. They are starting to appreciate each other despite further efforts from the North to disenfranchise the South.
Our northern brethren are proceeding with wonderful unanimity-even Democrats, in many cases, voting with the majority- to ratify the "constitutional amendment"; that to, to frame new State Constitutions for theae southern States, and to pronounce all our best and worthiest citizens perjured traitors. Sixteen or seventeen States have ratified, and the proceeding was usually accompanied with great bursts of glorification over the unexampled benignity and generosity of the northern people in proposing to us such a simple formula. Our northern brethren admire themselves very much in every point of view; but If they have a strong point, (though they say it, who shouldn't?) it is generosity, forbearance, and nobility of disposition. We are often assured now that history makes no mention, since the earliest ages, of any " conquering nation " which imposed such mild terms on the vanquished. They might have slain, banished, or hanged us all for treason-others would have done it in such a case-and, behold! they only require us to overturn our own State Constitutions, and then to come into court and plead guilty to a felony. Whether the Radicals are now going to rely upon carrying out this constitutional amendment by the votes of the " represented States," and then forcing it upon the South by military power, or whether they will rather concentrate their strength upon Stevens's " enabling act," which is to disable southern men from voting upon their own concerns in their own States, we cannot yet predict. But as the Supreme Court stands right in the way of both of these projects, it seems probable that they will endeavor in the first place to get rid of the Executive and Judiciary by carrying through impeachment of the one and consequent reorganization or suspension of the other. Thus impeachment stock is rising again. In the mean time, to prepare, no doubt, for any necessity that may arise, Mr. Stevens has added to his "enabling act" a clause providing for the suspension of habeas corpus all over the South, and governing those districts under martial law until after they shall have been admitted to representation upon the new basis. It seems somewhat strange to propose the enactment of martial law for a country so profoundly tranquil as the South is now; but it is quite in keeping with the Radical theory that we are now at war. On the other hand may be observed a proposal which has just been brought into the State Senate of Kentucky providing for the raising of ten regiments of infantry " to resist "all aggressions and maintain the princi"ple of State rights"-said troops to be subject to the call and order of the President. On the whole, it must be now evident to the Radical leaders that although their voyage on the troubled sea of revolution has been so far prosperous, there are breakers ahead. The President and Supreme Court of the United States cannot just be dismissed like a country postmaster.
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“Destruction and Reconstruction,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 24, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/501.