General Schofield's Construction of the Disqualifying Clause of the Reconstruction Bill.
April 15, 1867
General Schofield is fighting for more rights for previous rebels by trying to allow rebels who were forced to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy voting rights.
General Schofield has informed a member of the Virginia House of Delegates that the disqualification to vote or hold office does not apply, under the reconstruction bill, to persons who were forced into the rebel service by conscription, notwithstanding that they had taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and served in any of the capacities enumerated in the prescribed form of oath. This will reduce the number of persons disqualified to vote or hold office to a very small margin. The disqualification will be confined altogether to those who volun. teered in the early part of the war, few of whom are now living. The survivors are principally of the conscript class, save perhaps a few officers who held rank from the beginning, and obtained their commissions by appointment. The advantages thus secured will be more than counterbalanced by the active efforts of the Radicals to secure the negro vote, and the utter indifference so far manifested by the Conservatives with regard to it. It is conceded, now by men who have a good opportunity of forming an estimate that Petersburg will go for the Radicals by a majority of 600, and Richmond bv a majority of 1,500. These results must, of course, be attributable to the supineness of the Conservatives, for otherwise they could not occur, in view of the large preponderance of white voters in both cities. The task of addressing the negroes is regarded bv prominent men as exceedingly odious and unenviable, and they find it difficult to bring themselves to it, even in view of the great stake involved, and the important considerations which enjoin activity in this new sphere. I can illustrate this by a remark made by Governor Wise on the 3d instant, when urged to go on the platform and reply to Hunnicutt. The Governor was encountered by some respectable gentlemen just as he was passing the Capitol Square, where the negroes were assembled to hear Hunnicutt. They urged him to go in and address them. "Why," said the Governor, "I could not go among such a crowd. I don't think it is my place to engage in a controversy with such a person as Hunnicutt." "But, Governor, you might go in and skin the fellow--just flay him alive." "Gentlemen," said the Governor in response, "surely you would not have me go in and skin a skunk." The reply excited much laughter, and he was urged no further. If the avowals of some of the leading Whigs are worth anything, there is reason to believe that a large contingent of them will vote the Radical ticket. It is not because of any peculiar love for the Radicals. They hate them no less, but the Democats more. I heard a distinguished judge of this State say today that a prominent Whig remarked to him a few days ago that he hated the Democracy so intensely he would vote for any party in opposition to them: that he would vote for the d--l himself sooner than sustain them. This old party spirit, as I mentioned in a former letter, is much more pervading in Virginia than can now be supposed, and it will depend upon future developments whether the Whigs will not form a permanent coalition with the Radicals with a view to the defeat of the Democracy. It is not improbable that they look to a future modification of the Radical platform to a standard of conservatism somewhat conformable to southern ideas and southern interests: and in this state of affairs coalition would he stripped of its odium and made consistent with honor and self-respect, so far they might he identified with the question of party affiliations. However old party feelings may operate in determining result of the coming elections, serious apprehensions are beginning to be felt for the success of the Conservative ticket.
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“General Schofield's Construction of the Disqualifying Clause of the Reconstruction Bill.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 19, 2017, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/574.