The Southern State Convention Etc.
March 11, 1867
The Southern States are hoping to bypass the Radical's opinion of Congress and get their message recognized. They hope to have Sherman's original bill reconsidered, to be officially recognized, and let the South be true to its people.
The Hunnicutts and others of that party who are legislating in the South may not hope to accomplish their purposes. They will find that there is power enough in Congress notwithstanding the violence of certain Radical members to carry out the recent reconstruction law according to the original propositions of Senator Sherman. A packed negro convention in Virginia, or in any other State south of the Potomac, cannot frame measures for the degradation of these States, in accordance with the views of adventurers who have temporarily squatted among a people whom they aim to destroy, and have their plans adopted in preference to those of the citizens of the State. Let Virginia go ahead in the good work of organizing under the provisions of the Sherman bill--which is mild in comparison with what would be offered should she reject that. Her sons and daughters are too high advanced in the scale of devotion to her honor and welfare ever to be accused of listening to terms of degradation. The only hope of the South now is in an early representation, and when they have complied with the statute now presented, they must have it. Prominent senators and representatives in Congress assert this, contrary to the evil designs of Sumner, Chandler, and others. Those who would reject a constitution adopted by a convention called by the present Legislature are few in number. It cannot be claimed that that is the creation of President Johnson ; and its action must be recognized. There is certainly light beyond the present gloom. The end of persecution is nigh at hand ; and only let the South be true to her people and to herself, as she ever has been, and there need be no fear about daybreak. The General-in-Chief and the President of the United States will soon have, upon consultation, completed the list of the officers who are to hold command in the military districts, and both of these will act well towards the South in the execution of a law which it is beyond their control to prevent. There will be no applicants for political favor in the North among the list. It is evident that there is not so fierce a disposition now manifested in favor of impeaching the President as there has been. The very intemperate speech of Representative Ashley, and the sensible position of Messrs. Bingham and Spalding, his colleagues in the House, together with the certain fact that several other members are inclined not to allow themselves to be made tools of in opposition to their better judgment, is working a reversion on the side of the President. For all that, however, the impeachment men are working energetically to accomplish their schemes. In the Senate the subject is not broached. It may be on account of the constitutional provision that the President would have to be tried before that body should the House present an indictment against him ; but it does not appear that the majority of the senators are disposed to endorse all that Mr. Ashley or Butler may say against the Chief Magistrate. Some of the members of both Houses among the dominant party propose to wait and see the result of their legislation towards reconstructing the southern States and the part the President takes in the execution of the law before proceeding to extremities ; and altogether there are many indications that impeachment is not held so favorably as it has been. Prominent Radicals, high in position, assert that that is the main principle which now holds the party in its strength, and that no matter how the question may be disposed of, its finality will be the means of weakening their party to a very great extent. The President is now nominating several very prominent local Radicals for official positions, and its effect tends to lessen much of the antagonism expressed towards him.
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“The Southern State Convention Etc.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 2, 2021, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/541.