The Test Oath

February 1, 1868

Summary

Deep opposition to the Test Oath is present. Meanwhile Hunnicutt plans to instill a Test Oath for office-holders. The Test Oath is useless and does not secure safety for any blacks. In reality the Test Oath would do exactly the opposite of what it is intended and keep all honorable and righteous men out of office while letting unethical men in who are so willing to accept the wretched state of their nation.

Transcription

The Test Oath. The Convention now sitting in the venerable capitol of Virginia, we suspect, is inclined to imitate in part some of the excesses of the Alabama Convention. They could hardly commit a greater blunder than to incorporate a test oath in the Constitution of Virginia. Hunnicutt's report on suffrage prescribes one for office-holders. It requires the elected officer to swear as usual on going into office, and besides, to solemnly pledge himself as accepting the equality between black and white before the law. What is the use of exacting such a declaration from any man? It adds not a jot to negro safety. It imposes an oath which the better class of men would be loth to take, because it is unprecedented, if nothing else. When a man swears to support the Constitution and laws, the oath includes the recognition and respect of all rights under them; and what more do men want? The oath would only keep the more honorable and trustworthy men out, while the unscrupulous will be ever ready to "accept the situation." If the advocates of this oath hope to keep the offices to themselves they will find out their mistake. There are a plenty of indifferently capable persons who will, take it without a wry face. A test oath is a firebrand, it is the apple of discord in a community, and there will be no rest from the agitation of its repeal until it is repealed. The negroes will be safer without such protection as that. It will only provoke hostility towards them.
About this article

Contributed By

Mallory Haskins

Identifier

HaskinsMallory-18680201-TheTestOath.pdf

Citation

“The Test Oath,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 17, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/814.