A Retrospect

January 24, 1868


The Radicals have taken over so much of the government that the only power able to stop the Radical party and its enormous control are the people themselves.


A Retrospect. The whole history of Congress since the end of the war has been the history of an audacious revolution. Even the miserable excuse of party necessity has been wanting to those who have contrived and conducted it. The Republican party, by making itself national at the close of the war, and by pursuing a course of beneficence and conciliation towards the South, might have established its power and ascendancy on a foundation which could not for many years have been shaken. It was wholly unnecessary to resort to revolution as a means of perpetuating its rule; for no party ever in this country enjoyed a prestige more powerful. In fact, the revolutionary course which it has pursued has driven from it the support, and alienated from it the good will of all conservative classes in the Union who still hold virtue, integrity, and honesty in esteem, and consider the public good as of superior importance to party success. Indeed, it is difficult to divine what motive can have prompted this party in the strange career which it has pursued, unless it was the same that actuated the herd of swine which, on becoming possessed of a set of devils, ran violently down a steep hill and perished in the sea. That the Republican party are at this time running violently down a steep descent to perdition is very apparent, and the best indication of these frightful times is that their course is so headlong and precipitate as to leave no further doubt of the destination that will soon be reached. The Republican party has, in fact, ceased to be anything else than an organization devoted to the uses of the violent spirits which it fosters in its bosom. How this Radical faction has contrived to obtain complete authority in and to monopolize the entire control of the Republican organization is little known outside of the party councils, but the fact admits of no question whatever. Probably the progress of its influence in the body of the party has been as gradual as have been its assaults upon the Constitution of the country. That vicious faction has not only subdued the Republican party to its will, but it has, through the party drill, acquired absolute control over Congress. In fact, it has degraded Congress into a mere Radical Presidential committee, having this important advantage: that it can give the sanction and authority of law to all measures which may be deemed for the advantage of the party. The success of the Radical faction has certainly been remarkable. Their first and most important achievement was in obtaining control of the Republican organization and filling Congress with their own creatures. Having accomplished this much, they embarked boldly on that revolutionary career which has for two years marked the history of that body. Their first encounter was with the President; and in this quarrel they have enacted those laws for subverting the constitutional independence of the Executive that have filled the country with so much surprise and indignation. Their next attentions were addressed to the southern people. Under the pretence of establishing in these States, governments "republican in form," they have abolished those governments that were devised and instituted by the framers of the Federal Constitution and placed the whole South under a military dictatorship. Mr. Francis P. Blair, the elder, has, in a recent letter, pointed out the design of this military surveillance to be to insure to the negro population control of the governments which are about to be substituted for the old. Under the impression that the negroes will be more docile to their will, and convenient tools for their purposes, the Radical faction have resolved upon the brutal expedient of crushing the spirits of the brave white people of the South under the rude and revolting domination of halfsavage negroes. It is not pretended that these measures are in accordance with the spirit and in pursuance of the terms of the Constitution; It is claimed that the South, being conquered territory, is to be governed According to the law of nations, and, until admitted into the Union, is outside of the purview and operation of the Constitution. Having thus effectually crushed the power of the white race in the South, the Radical faction holding control in Congress then turned its regards to the Supreme Court. This body presented a feeble barrier in its way. It was only necessary to say boo! to render it, in its modern composition, as humble and innocent of all offence as could be desired. Thus, with the Republican party converted into a willing instrument of its purposes; with the Supreme Court awed into silence; with the Executive disarmed and bound hand and foot; and with the South crushed, there remains but one formidable power in the way of this Radical faction that has usurped all the powers of government. That power is the people; and It is for the subversion of that power that this same faction is taxing all its ingenuity, and employing all its address and audacity. If an election of the next President by the people can be defeated, then the duty of choosing this officer will devolve by law upon the present House of Representatives. The defeat of a popular election is therefore of vital importance to the faction; and it is essential to this defeat that the faction should not seem to desire or to contrive it. But of the success of their dangerous and diabolical scheme there is now but little prospect. The faction have so outraged all sense of propriety, and so alarmed the conservative patriotism of the country, that the probability now is that they will be unable to carry a large enough vote in the electoral college to render an election by the people at all doubtful. By the very steps which they have taken to ensure success, they have committed suicide.
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Mallory Haskins




“A Retrospect,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/798.