The Railroad Lands

February 7, 1868


In an attempt to punish white Southern rebels, an act passed by the House of Representatives allows Congress to reclaim southern land that is currently used for railroads.


The Railroad Lands. The act just passed by the House of Representatives of Congress taking away from southern railroads the public lands given to them before the war is in accordance with the general Radical system of "punishing rebels"?-viz., to take away their property. Every step to "make rebellion odious" is designed to enure to the advantage of the northern people, either in increasing and prolonging the Radical rule, or in transferring money from the South and placing it in northern pockets and treasuries. The greed and acquisitiveness which are at the bottom of this system are such monsters, and their cravings so insatiable, that all that can be taken from the South to punish it is not sufficient. So voracious are those monsters, indeed, that men who cater for them, as unscrupulous as they are, find it difficult at all times to do what is required of them. So on this question of withdrawing the donations to southern railroads-so insignificant when compared to the millions of acres that have been corruptly given to northern corporations-all of the soldiers of the monsters did not appear on their side. There were some deserters, the vote standing 86 to 73! There is some shame yet left. It is a feature of the proceedings to "make rebellion odious," that springing from selfishness, greed, and ambition, they must naturally and philosophically be maintained by passion and violence. Beasts of prey are always enraged when about to seize their victims, even when of the most innocent and helpless kind. Hence the tirades of the advocates of the system of punishment of the South, inspired by the meanest of passions, are always vindictive, vituperative, and mendacious. Trumped-up accusations to justify inhuman measures-wholesale slanders invented by paid labellers-are trumpeted Forth with unblushing effrontery and hypocritical indignation. Fitting defences to execrable deeds!
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Contributed By

Mallory Haskins




“The Railroad Lands,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023,