Wendell Phillips - Confiscation - Reconstruction

July 8, 1867


Wendell Phillips is the force behind the Radical movements advancements. He calls for confiscation of the land belonging to ex-Confederates. The Dispatch disagrees with this as they say it will not promote growth and the rebuilding of the South. Phillips still pushes for control of the South and military forces in southern states.


Wendell Phillips - Confiscation - Reconstruction. The driver of the Radical coach is Wendell Phillips. When he cracks his whip the leaders of the "advanced movements" understand that they are to take another step forward. The more conservative members of that party always refuse to start at the first crack of his whip, but they have never yet failed to yield to the persuasive influences of the lash within a short time after so refusing. Looking upon him, then, as an exponent of Radical doctrines now, and of what Radical practices soon will be, we attach a good deal of importance to his utterances. The 4th of July of course afforded him an opportunity for indulging in one of his characteristic effusions. He says: "But this fourth day of July will be renowned above its fellows. To-day assembles the Great Council of the Nation in extra session to see 'that the Republic receives no harm.' Let us hope they will inaugurate such a policy as will reassure all men. Break up the landed aristocracy of rebeldom, and create millions of small holdings - the only sufficient basis of the ballot-box. Timid men fear this will exasperate the rebels. They hate us as bitterly as they can already. They hate us as bitterly as they can already. Nothing we do can increase this hate. The mothers are reaching their children to hate us. Nothing we can do will give this hate longer life than such teachings insure. Confiscation does not increase, such hate. Confiscation only disarms it. If you cannot convert your enemy. it is wise to take away his arms. This confiscation does." Confiscation, then, is one of the planks of Phillips's platform. We have not seriously feared such a measure. It is so strongly condemned by the voice of all Christendom outside of the northern States, so diabolical and cruel, and likely to prove so unprofitable to our masters, that we have not attached much importance to Thad. Stevens's threats. Phillips, however, evidently regards the measure with favor; and as he is generally the first man to give utterance to what a majority of the northern people feel, then is at Ieast a possibility that the civilization of the nineteenth century is to be disgraced by either an agrarian or a confiscation law. The difficulties do not appal Mr. Phillips's stout heart. He sat at home in safety during the late desolating war; and so, brave man that he is, he proposes to continue there while he sends down an increased number of soldiers to enforce his terrible decree. He says: "Sweep out of the way, by express declaration and enactment, all these shuns and speeches of pretended State governments. Increase, if necessary, the military force at the South. Let no village, however distant; no man, however obscure, be able to escape its all-present control. Propose such amendments to the Federal Constitution as shall render needless this vigilant supervision of, and vexations interference with, State laws relating to the negro race. By appropriate clauses cut down State sovereignty to such small dimensions as shall leave no ground for race-hatred and class legislation to stand upon." What a graphic picture of a free country does Mr. Phillips draw. The reader's mind involuntarily reverts to the the heroic measures adopted by Oliver Cromwell for the better government of Ireland. "Let no man, however obscure,'' escape the all-present control of this model of free government. In other words, and to repeat a remark which there has been too much occasion to use heretofore, he would reduce the superior race to the worst state of slavery, in order that the inferior one may rule. Was there ever before in the history of the world a country, or a people, in which or by whom such a proposition would not have been seouted, and its author driven from the society of his fellow-men?
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“Wendell Phillips - Confiscation - Reconstruction,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 20, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/654.