The Work of Reconstruction
April 30, 1867
Overall, Southerners are starting to adapt and alter their lives with the introduction of new laws and acts, even if this means making peace with African Americans. Blacks need Whites, and Whites need Blacks, and they have both come to this realization.
The process of the inevitable reconstruction under the acts of Congress is quietly going on, in a preparatory way, through the indisputable and steady authority of the Military Government. In this State that government is as unostentatious and as considerate and kind as ever military rule was known to be. It could not be more so. We have but one thing to fear, and that is the bad effect of the agitation, with the view of controlling the colored votes, gotten up by a few ultra and unprincipled white men who are essaying to prejudice the minds of the negroes against the white people, or "rebels," as they are called. The colored people are warned not to side with them in any event. If these counselprevail, infinite harm must follow in the disturbance of the social order and the industry of the South. Will they prevail? We think not. The southern white people are everywhere showing their ready acquiescence in the new order of things which makes the colored people their equals before the law. This must take away all ground for clamor and complaint; and those who would mislead the colored people must be driven to gather their arguments from the past, rather a dangerous resort, since the record of the South on the matter of slavery and the black man compares well with that of the North. But all rights being accorded by the law, and concurred in by the white people in all their relations to the blacks, the warfare that is waged on the past must break down. The interests of both races will demand that it cease, and compel it to be discontinued. The blacks are here, and here to stay; and they are too practical and too sensible to be willing to make their homes miserable and their prospects discouraging by separating themselves from their friends and neighbors, and becoming enemies to their interests. The larger towns may have in some excess the element of discord, but it will not prevail in the purer, quieter, and healthier atmosphere of the rural districts. We say the colored voters are not going to divide off from the whites. Their interests, motives, and feelings, will be too sympathetic and reciprocal for that. Still, the colored vote is a bait for partisans, who will move heaven and earth to control it. Let it be the policy of the great body of the people to devote their influence to the great business of reconstruction, to endeavor to harmonize the community by discouraging agitation and division, to avoid denunciation of anybody, and to receive the cooperation of all, and to cooperate with any who are for the steady and earnest prosecution of the work of reconstruction fully under the acts of Congress. It is no time for disputation, no time for wrangling. It is the time to restore the State to order and pave the way for the restoration of its prosperity. The prostration and poverty that surround us forbid wrangling, while they afford the most powerful inducement to better our condition by tho early reconstruction of Virginia into a State.
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“The Work of Reconstruction,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 5, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/585.