Registering and Voting
May 1, 1867
The Dispatch calls Virginians and Richmonders to register to vote as soon as possible regardless of race.It is everyone's duty to vote, and since it is necessary to rejoin the Union, Virginians must register so a government and constitution for Virginia can be created with the most qualified people governing.
Registering and Voting. The unanimous opinion now is that our people should all register their names who can, and participate in the work of reconstruction to the full extent allowed by the law. Mr. Baldwin, Speaker of the House of Delegates, in his valedictory address on Monday, gave this good advice. He urged all who were entitled to register to do so, and to advise all others to follow their example, so that they might be prepared at the proper time to participate in the manner that circumstances might suggest. This is very well, and no man we have heard of stops short of this. But we would go farther; and we regard it the duty of all to go farther. Voters should not only register, but they should vote for men who will go to the constitutional convention pledged to frame a constitution precisely in conformity with the reconstruction acts of Congress. To all who will, properly consider the circumstances in which we are placed, there is no prospect whatever of avoiding this mode of restoring the State to the Union. If we may suppose it possible that Virginia can, with all the lights before her, refuse to so conform, why, who does not know that Congress which will keep a vigilant watch upon the South-will immediately authorize the "loyalists" to reconstruct the State and take her into the Union with the great body of the whites disfranchised? So that by this course, so far from avoiding the congressional plan, that would only be delayed, to be brought back upon us with increased severity and hardship. So that it is the duty of us all to move straight on in the line of reconstruction marked out for us. Lot all remember that in the Union we must stay-that the United States is our country-and that the more united, the more equal the States, the more harmony and security there is the better for us all. Therefore every man should give all the influence he has, and all of his own exertion, to the work of reconstruction upon the terms tendered, or rather exacted, in the speediest and most complete manner, whatever the sacrifice we have to make. After that, why the way is clear. Place the State in the Union upon terms of equality with the northern States, and there is the end of the revolution and the beginning of resto-ration-the restoration of prosperity, of productive labor in all its forms, of enterprise, of trade, and the successful pursuit of all the vocations of men. The land will soon smile with peace and plenty. With a duty so plain, under an irresistible authority, the performance of which is to produce such results, we cannot see how any man can hesitate to discharge it promptly and earnestly.
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“Registering and Voting,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 12, 2018, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/586.