Work To Be Done

February 29, 1868


White Virginians no longer want to do nothing and cannot stand idly by watching these major political events pass anymore. White citizens devise schemes to ensure a white Virginian wins the Governor's office.


Work to be Done. The law just passed by Congress, and which we published yesterday, authorizing the State Conventions to provide for the election of members of Congress and of all State officers at the time the vote is taken upon the question of ratifying the Constitution, was no doubt drawn up at the instigation of the Radicals of the southern States. They hope to enlist in favor of ratification all the Candidates whose prospects for election are good, and whose ambition induces them to desire seats in the House of Representatives, or the Virginia Legislature, or whose love of ease makes them anxious to fill offices of emolument. The scheme is cunningly devised, but will fail of its purpose if the white men of the State are made of the right material. Nevertheless, it will not do not to run candidates. We shall, by nominating men for very-place to be filled, secure a falter vote, and thus have a better prospect of defeating ratification, "We must," says for Petersburg Index, "speedily nominate candidates for all State offices." This seems to us to be the wisest course. We protested last summer against the proposition that the voters of Virginia should absent themselves from the polls, and we protest now against anything which looks like the do-nothing policy. We must act upon the offensive. We shall gain strength by contesting every inch of ground. There may not be a great probability that the Constitution will be ratified; yet there is a possibility of such a result, and that possibility affords an overpowering argument in favor of placing in the field popular candidates for every position of honor or profit. It will not do to assume that we can certainly vote down the Constitution, as bright as seems the prospect that we shall be able to do so. If we were to be mistaken in this matter, and there were none but negro candidates in the field, the whole State would pass at once into the hands of the negro party. We should have Radical legislators, Radical congressmen, a Radical Governor, a Radical Lieutenant-Governor, Radical justices, and Radical officials of every de- gree. We cannot too. carefully guard our State against so deplorable a condition of things. Whatever can be done must be done to prevent this disgrace to Virginia and the mortification which would result to all her true sons. "One of the most distinguished citizens of Eastern Virginia" writes to the Index as follows: "When the Constitution now in process of construction shall be presented to the people for ratification, there will, in all probability, be an election held for State officers and members of Congress. Should Congress then pronounce the Constitution adopted our entire State government will be in the bands of the Radicals, unless we use some effort to prevent it. We could, in all probability, elect a Governor and a majority of congressmen. It is not only vitally important we have a native-born Virginian white man for Governor, but it is absolutely necessary to our existence that we prevent the office falling into the hands of any traitor to the white race. There are, I trust, some honorable white men in Virginia who can take the test oath of Congress; and it would be better to have ignorant men, though they should not be able to read or write, to sit in Congress to keep Radicals out; and there are plenty of old, ignorant white men in every congressional district (if we should be unable to find reliable men of intelligence) who can take the test oath. I am for voting whenever we have a chance, and running candidates for every office. This will keep us organized, and give us strength which we can attain in no other way. If we contest every inch of ground I shall be hopeful-otherwise, I shall be hopeless. "Suppose we vote down a Constitution with universal negro suffrage in it, as we surely ought to strive every way to do, and the Radicals should have elected a Legislature, Governor, and congressmen, and Congress should therefore declare Virginia in the Union. What would be our condition? On the other hand, should we have carried our State ticket, and have elected four or five members of Congress, our position would comparatively be a happy one, for we should then have Congress on both horns of the dilemma. There is no telling what Congress will or will not do. My opinion is, if the Radicals should demonstrate their ability to control a majority of the southern States, and thereby give strength to the Radical Congress, that body will forthwith pass an act declaring-all-the States in the Union. I think Virginia should stand prepared for such a contingency-which preparation would cost nothing, and might prove to be her very salvation."
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Mallory Haskins




“Work To Be Done,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed September 30, 2022,