The New Reconstruction Bill-Minority Report
January 16, 1868
There is heavy opposition to the disintegration of the governments in the ten states of the former Confederacy in the New Reconstruction Bill. Congress has too much power compared to other branches of the government, a fact that can only weaken the country even further.
The New Reconstruction Bill-Minority Report. The following is the minority report upon the reconstruction bill pending in Congress: The undersigned, a minority of the Committee of Reconstruction, so called, submit, among others, the following as some of their reasons in opposition to the bill: 1st. That a Congress exparte is asked (first section) to abrogate and destroy all civil and State governments in ten States, four of them--as follows: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia--being of the original thirteen that started the Government and created the Constitution, while four others of that thirteen (making eight in all) have, past, been demonstrating through their popular elections that they recognize these civil State governments, and guarantee, as far as the popular voice, their preservation as legal State governments. Self-government and representation are cardinal principles of a republic, and ordained in our Federal Constitution, but the section ignores both, and robs ten States of this Union and twelve millions of inhabitants of all protection from the Judiciary or Executive branches of the Government, while dooming them to a military despotism. 2d. That a Congress thus representing but a part of the people, and that part now in a minority, even if a full Congress, in a parliamentary sense of that word, would be but one of the three great branches of this Government, with no right and no power to invalidate or to deny the recognition of the Executive or Judicial power, as assented in the bill. The Executive or Judiciary has as much right to proclaim or predicate that Congress shall not be recognized as Congress has to enact for the the Executive and the Judiciary ; both are as much the Government and the creation of the Constitution as the House or Senate; and the Executive, elected by the whole people, better represents the principles of popular government than a Senate-a mere arbiter-the creation of the States. 3. That the invalidation or malification of the Executive and Judicial power in ten States is not only an abolition of the Federal Constitution, but in direct conflict with the great military acts of 1792 and 1795, and of March 3, 1807, putting the army and navy and militia of the United States in certain cases at the disposal of the President; also in conflict with the fundamental judiciary act of 1789,and also in conflict with act 4, section 5, of the Constitution, which, while guaranteeing to every State a republican form of government, also guarantees, on application of the civil authorities of the States, protection against domestic violence, such as contemplated in this bill. 4. That the second and third sections are in utter violation of the Constitution, article 2, section 2, which declares the President to be Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United States, inasmuch is the General of the army is authorized to be commander-in-chief, and to remove by his orders alone any or all officers of the army of the United States, independent of the Constitution and people's elected commander-in-chief, and thus investing a General of the army with this supreme dictatorship, is as if in solemn mockery set forth to recognize civil governments in form. 5. That the whole act is revolutionary and incendiary in arraying Congress, but one branch of the Government, against the coordinate branches, in all respects the constitutional equals of Congress, and in some respects the constitutional superiors of Congress, and thereby calculated, if not intended, to involve the whole country in commotion and civil strife; the end of which no human eye can foresee. [Signed] James Brooks, of New York. James B. Beck, of Kentucky.
About this article
“The New Reconstruction Bill-Minority Report,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 4, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/781.