The New Reconstruction Bill
January 27, 1868
White Southerners hope to ensure votes for General Grant. It is essential that Grant wins the election as he would be able to undo and halt the terrible actions taken by the Radicals. *Note: The first paragraph of this article is excluded due to the illegible nature of the paper.
There is no real statesmanship in the Republican party. Its leaders are all miserable quacks. The best of them are men of contracted views, who are governed more by passion than reason, and have either never read much of the world's history or have profited little by their reading. Mr. Bingham, the patron of the new reconstruction bill in the House, could urge no stronger reason in its favor than that the country couldn't live on constitutional provisions, just as the highwayman excuses his violations of law upon the plea that self-preservation is the first law of nature. Indeed, any one who will take the trouble to read Mr. Bingham's speech will find that it is utterly destitute of argument of the kind which was employed in Congress when there were statesmen in that body, and that it consists only of such appeals to the baser feelings of the human heart as we may suppose the speaker is in the habit of making to the simpletons to whom he owes his seat. From a Congress that can be influenced by such harangues the people of the South cannot expect to receive justice. Whatever Radicalism demands to be done, that will such a body do. And as Radicalism demands the passage of the new reconstruction bill, it is safe to conclude that it will soon become the law of the land. How will the new law (as it may, by courtesy, be called) affect the southern people? That depends upon General Grant. Its object is to secure to him the electoral votes of all the southern States. Congress says to him, "You are our candidate for President. Your election depends upon the votes of the southern "States. We appoint you dictator over "them. If you do not secure their votes, "and thus insure your election, it will be "your own fault." We may then assume that the intention is to count the electoral votes of all the southern States for Grant. The Bureau will of course have to attend to that little matter for the General, it being utterly impossible that he should attend to it in person. Keeping in mind what the object of the bill is, and that General Grant himself is appointed to see that these States are made to cast their electoral votes for him, we will state the provisions of the bill, and then the reader can judge for himself how it will affect us. The first section outlaws all the seceded States. The second section authorizes General Grant to remove any district commander who is opposed to his election, and substitute a new man, even if, in order to find a Radical, he shall have to come down to the rank of Colonel. It also requires General Grant to enjoin upon his new appointees the strict performance of all acts necessary to the accomplishment of the grand end in view. The third section authorizes General Grant to remove all of the State officers and appoint in their stead men who will use their official influence in favor of his election. It also provides that the President shall not remove from office in the said States any person whatsoever (that is, any Grant man); which prohibition is repeated in the fourth and fifth sections, and menacing penalties denounced against him should he do so. The sixth section merely repeals all acts or parts of acts inconsistent with the foregoing programme for the election of a President by General Grant. Such is the new reconstruction bill, according to Mr. Bingham. He avowedly supports it on the very grounds which we have stated-that is, as a means of perpetuating the ascendancy of the Radical party. "We have merely translated his language into a sort of practical English.
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“The New Reconstruction Bill,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/801.