Union Republican Convention

August 1, 1867


The Dispatch references Hunnicutt's influence on Reconstruction in Richmond.Recently, the Republican party has formed in Richmond and adopted many resolutions, including equality, free public education, and a just tax system.


UNION REPUBLICAN CONVENTION. ITS ANTECEDENTS AND PROSPECTS. Arrival of Delegates. CAUCUS LAST NIGHT. Meeting To-day. Previous to the passage by Congress of the military reconstruction bill, in March last, there was no organization in Virginia which could presume to call itself the Republican party of the State. In Alexandria, in Norfolk, and in Richmond, were a few men who avowed themselves supporters of Radical doctrines, and here and there throughout the State were ex-Federal officers and a few Union men of long standing who hesitated not to avow their approval of the aims of the Republican party. A few assembled in Alexandria in May, 1866, appointed a State Central Committee, composed of representatives of that city, Norfolk, and Richmond; but still no permanent party organization was attempted. The enfranchisement of the blacks was the commencement of a new era in Virginia politics, and the Radical leaders immediately began their efforts to secure them as members of their party. To this end, before the month of March had passed, a call was made public, signed by the State Central Committee, appointed at Alexandria, urging the "loyal people of the State, without distinction of color, to assemble en masse in the African church, at Richmond, on the 17th of April, 1867." This, "in view of the passage of the military reconstruction bill, and subsequently of the supplementary bill, by the Congress of the United States." The mass convention duly assembled, and its session was not marked by perfect unanimity. The moving spirit was James W. Hunnicutt, although much of his work was accomplished behind the scenes; and the colored people, for the first time assembled in a political meeting as prospective voters, ruled with defiant speeches their white brethren, who seemed tamely to yield the mastery. The platform adopted was that recommended by the Committee on Resolutions. The first resolution returned hearty thanks to the Thirty-ninth Congress for their legislation resulting in the passage of the Sherman-Shellabarger bill and its supplement, certified with gratitude that the beneficial effects of the said legislation were already visible, and pledged the Republicans of Virginia to earnest and persistent efforts to carry out its provisions without evasion and with honesty of purpose. The second resolution mentioned with high approval the principles of the National Republican party of the United States, adopting them as the platform of the "Union men of Virginia," and invited the cooperation of all classes of our fellow citizens, without distinction of color. "Without regard to former political opinions, or action induced by such convictions, we invite them to join us, and pledge them a warm welcome to our ranks and a full and free participation in all the advantages of our organization; and firmly believing that in the present condition of public affairs the Republican party offers the most available means, through its organization, for the speedy attainment of permanent reconstruction, we do hereby adopt its principles and platform as the basis and platform of the Union Republican party of Virginia." The following were adopted as cardinal points in the policy: "1st. Equal protection to all men before the courts, and equal political rights in all respects, including the right to hold office. "2d. A system of common school education which shall give to all classes free schools, and a free and equal participation in all its benefits. ''3d. A more just and equitable system taxation, which shall apportion taxes to property, and require all to pay in proportion to their ability. "4th. A modification of the usury laws sufficient to induce foreign capital to seek investment in the State. "5th. Encouragement to internal improvements, and every possible inducement to immigration." A fifth resolution pledged the members of the Convention to support for an elective office no man who failed to join in the ratification of the platform. The sixth contained a eulogy upon the laboring classes, and expressed a desire to elevate them to their proper position. An address marked by considerable partisan violence was adopted, and published to the citizens of Virginia; after which the convention adjourned sine die.
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“Union Republican Convention,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/678.