concord in Lexington

On October 2, 1865 Robert E. Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia – and signed an amnesty oath pledging allegiance to the United States and all its laws, including those regarding the emancipation of slaves.

NY Times 10-17-1865

NY Times 10-17-1865

Lee's Amnesty Oath (

an example of submission to authority for his new students


Mr. Lee’s amnesty oath can be found at the National Archives: the National Archives discovered the amnesty oath in 1970; General Lee was restored to full (U.S.) citizenship in 1975.

Here’s some sound from the general, according to Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son wrote to his invalid wife on October 3, 1865:

The college opened yesterday, and a fine set of youths, about fifty, made their appearance in a body. It is supposed that many more will be coming during the month. The scarcity of money everywhere embarrasses all proceedings. … The ladies have furnished me a very nice room in the college for my office; new carpet from Baltimore, curtains, etc. They are always doing something kind. … The scenery is beautiful here, but I fear it will be locked up in winter by the time you come. Nothing could be more beautiful than the mountains now….

Most affectionately, R. E. Lee.

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Society, Southern Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

lest we ignore

In a September 1865 sermon advocating negro suffrage Henry Ward Beecher reportedly said that the North could take care of all the freed slaves in the South, “but the so doing would be a violation of the fundamental law of society, which says that every man must take care of himself.” Unfortunately, the Civil War created a class of men who were not able to take care of themselves, at least not immediately. 150 years ago this month a Soldiers Home in Philadelphia advertised an upcoming fair to raise funds for the home because the need to help disabled veterans was so great. “Can we, as Americans, forget the vast debt we owe to the brave spirits who periled life and limb, and have fought so bravely for our country, many of whom have lost health and limbs in the service, and are thereby prevented from earning for themselves an honest livelihood?”

philsoldiershomesep65 The lady managers of the Soldiers Home intend holding a fair for the benefit of the Institution, and appeal to their fellow citizens for aid ... Philadelphia, September 1865. (1865; LOC:

Philadelphia pauper prevention

At least there weren’t new battle casualties. The Philadelphia Citizens Volunteer Hospital closed on August 9, 1865:

phil volunteer hospital (Citizens Volunteer Hospital Association of Philadelphia Instituted September 5th 1862 / / from nature Jas. Queen. (c.1865; LOC:

temporary relief

Here’s a couple images related to the Citizens Volunteer Hospital:

Citizens Volunteer Hospital - corner of Broad St. and Washington Ave. / drawn & lith. by James Queen, Philada. (ca.1863; LOC:

donation to help the wounded

Citizens Volunteer Hospital Philadelphia / des. & lith. by J. Queen ; P.S. Duval & Son Lith. Philada. (ca.1862; LOC:

hospital scenes

In addition to military camps, hospitals figured prominently in the following Civil War map of Philadelphia:

Military map of Philadelphia 1861-1865 (c.1914; LOC:

Citizens Volunteer Hospital labeled “L” – “Military map of Philadelphia 1861-1865 ” (c.1914, Library of Congress)

From the Library of Congress: fair notice, hospital closed, receipt, hospital scenes, map
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“We must accept our own ideas”

No man is fit to be an American statesman who is afraid of American ideas. Liberty is the boon of every man, and it carries with it civil rights and citizenship….

We must accept our own ideas. I believe in liberty and universal citizenship, and would give it to all, were they ten millions in number. …

Henry Ward Beecher / from a photograph by Rockwood & Co. of New York. (c1871; LOC:

Preacher Beecher

From The New-York Times September 25, 1865:

THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT.; What are the Rights and Prospects of the Black Man. Henry Ward Beecher on Negro Suffrage. He Wants Them to Have It and Thinks They Will. Hot Shot from a Very Radical Battery. …

Rev. HENRY WARD BEECHER has renewed his regular ministrations at Plymouth Church, and yesterday availed himself, morning and evening, of the opportunity to instruct his people, and an immense audience of outsiders, in the way they should go, politically and morally, on the great questions of the day; assuming that, sooner or later, the entire people of this country will become participants in the discussion of negro suffrage. Mr. BEECHER, in the morning, preached a powerful sermon, drawn from the story of Christ washing his disciples’ feet, thereby inculcating the doctrine that the superior should, by virtue of his superiority, serve the inferior; that the Lord and Master should become the minister or servant, and that thenceforth the law of love, which insists upon the extension of aid and service from the strong to the weak, should be enforced. This example, set by the founder of the Christian religion, is before all his followers, and what was done by him has become the duty of every man.

Plymouth Church, Orange & Hicks Streets, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY (LOC:

“In the evening the house was packed at an early hour.”

In the evening the house was packed at an early hour. The aisles and several spaces near the pulpit were occupied, and it would have been difficult for Mr. WELD or any of his numerous assistants to find a seat for another listener. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. SCHUYLER COLFAX, sat in the pastor’s pew, and many white chokered gentlemen sat at the feet of the Brooklyn Gamaliel.

After the customary introductory services, Mr. BEECHER took his text from the 6th verse of the 11th chapter of Matthew, and proceeded substantially as follows:

He first analyzed the passage and considered the circumstances under which it was brought forth. In a running commentary of pith and suggestive application, he described the cheerful condition of individual bitterness and national hostility in which lived the Jews and the Samaritans, and showed the moral courage requisite for a man to dare to narrate in the City of Jerusalem a parable of which the central figure and hero was a poor, despised Samaritan.

Inquiring next what was meant by “preaching good tidings to the poor,” Mr. BEECHER argued that since the world began it had been the custom to be kind to the poor, to do good to people in distress, but it was regarded rather as a virtue in those who did so, and Christ came to teach a new and antagonistic doctrine. He preached a doctrine that regarded every member of the human race a child of God — the universal Father; he regarded them as members one of another, as of one family, as brothers and sisters. It taught that relative exaltations, real and fancied superiorities of one over another, so far from freeing us from obligations to the weak or giving us liberty to take advantage of their inferiority, was God’s solemn obligation to do more for them. Christ taught the Law of Power to be that the Superior was in the Divine Kingdom of Love, the natural helper, nurse and servant of the inferior. This of course has not been accepted by the world by whom whole races are overslaughed and whole people stamped to the earth by the haughty foot of power.

The good samaritan (c1880; LOC:


The most offensive part of Christ’s life, said Mr. BEECHER, and that which procured his crucifixion, was the potential teaching of these Christian democratic ideas. We know how the Jews hated and despised the Samaritans, and how, in turn, the Samaritans hated and despised the Jews. It was not left for the Christians of our date to initiate a system of hatred — it was fully as effective then as now. The Jews hated Christ because of his ministration to the poor — not that they would object to helping the poor, but they objected to his way, to the mode by which he taught a philosophy which would overturn hierarchies and compel them to most unwelcome duties. The Jews did not like the idea of everybody else sharing with them the good. They could not bear that the Gentiles should follow Him, and soon their most demoniac element was stirred up, which so worked and fumed until the day of His death. They could not bear to hear preached the doctrine that taught of a common origin and a common destiny, of brotherhood, of duties between classes and peoples, and they hated Him who troubled them.

The history of the nations before the time of Christ finds its parallel in the history of nations since.

Then, to be a stranger was to be a criminal, and a shipwrecked man upon a foreign shore was killed, if not eaten, as a matter of course. Each nation thinks itself by some reason superior to all others. The English despise the French, and the French disdain the English; the Germans think that wisdom will die with them, and in despising the rest of mankind, are met by a reciprocal feeling throughout the world; the British look down upon us Americans, end we rather don’t regard the British with a marked degree of affection. This hatred exists, and men cherish it with jealous and cruel vigilance. Christianity and culture have modified its manifestations somewhat, but the spirit is there yet, and there never was a time when this Christian doctrine of the moral obligation of power was more needed than the present. This conviction of superiority is the source of hatred, contempt, and neglect, or culpable and negligent indifference on the part of the strong and great. The history of nations, and their present attitude, prove this. There are cases of parental love, and of friendship too, where the true doctrine prevails; indeed, the nursery is the exception to the rule, but where else does the law of love prevail, to any great degree?

Particularly is this doctrine needed now, because the whole world is thrown open and brought into contiguity. Great Britain is as near to us to-day as Boston was in the time of the Revolution. We need all men, and they need us. We need the isles of the sea, the Chinese and the Indian, and when our intercourse with them takes effect, this law of love, this doctrine of moral obligation comes into play, and we who neglect or disobey it, do so in the very face of the Almighty himself. We, like all nations, are disposed to do right with our equals; and this again evinces the meanness of men when in power. Had China and Mexico been strong and vigorous nations, would Great Britain have warred about her opium, or we for the sake of Texas?

In our own land and time, facts and questions are pressed upon us that demand Christian settlement — settlement on this ground and doctrine. We cannot escape the responsibility. Being strong and powerful, we must nurse, and help, and educate, and foster those who are weak, and poor and ignorant. For my own part, I cannot see how we shall escape the most


by and by, unless we are educated into this doctrine of duty on the part of the superior to the inferior. We are told by zealous and fanatical individuals that all men are equal. We know better. They are not equal. A common brotherhood teaches no such absurdity. A theory of universal physical likeness is no more absurd than this. Now, as in all time, the strong go to the top, the weak to the bottom; its natural and right, and can’t be helped. All branches are not at the top of the tree, but the top does not despise the lower, nor do they all despise the limb or parent trunk, and so in the body politic there must be classes. Some will be at the top and some at the bottom. It is difficult to foresee and estimate the development and POWER of classes in America. They are simply inevitable; they are here now and with be more. If they are friendly, living at peace, loving and respecting and helping one another, all will be well, but if they are selfish, unchristian, if the old Heathen feeling is to reign, each extracting all he can from his neighbor and caring nothing for him, society will be lined by classes as by seams, like batteries, each firing broadside after broadside, the one upon the other. If, on the other hand, the law of love prevails, there will be no ill-will, no envy, no disturbance. Does a child hate his father because he is chief — because he is strong and wise? On the contrary, he grows by his father’s growth, and strengthens with his strength, and if in society there should be fifty grades or classes all helping each other, there would be no trouble, but perfect satisfaction and content.

This Christian doctrine carried into practice will easily settle the most troublesome of our home questions, the


For a hundred years millions of men have suffered every injury that can be inflicted on man, on the ground of their inferiority, as if men’s rights were grounded on power. They have not been permitted their manhood, nor their civil rights, nor could they hold property, nor enjoy the privileges of a citizen, on the ground of their inferiority. Their social relations and family ti[e]s were abolished, their God-inspired feelings crushed, the portal of knowledge sealed on the ground of their infirmity. Nothing else. And on this doctrine, laid down by Christ for apostles and disciples, aye, for himself even, we as a nation have stood ordaining cruelty by law. American slavery is the most accursed of all. It was a most infamous crime. It was taught, not that the superior must help the inferior, but that the inferior must serve the superior. It was taught in the pulpit and administered like doses of ip ecac in the newspapers. It excited no surprise. You rather liked it. You were the stranger, and you persecuted them, and there w[???] [were?] not wanting sober Doctors of Divinity, who, putting on spectacles made by the Divine, diligently searched the Scriptures to see if the New Testament had anything to say against slavery. Of course, they found nothing, and because it was ascertained that Father Abraham, who bought his wife and sold his children, kept a few slaves, it was considered all right for Americans to do the same thing.

Since the emancipation of these poor people, the question of


comes up for settlement, and it must be settled on right grounds, on Christian grounds, or it wont stay settled. They encounter of course prejudice and distrust on the part of their late masters, but how is it with people outside of the circle of their former owners? Some of you say “God in his wisdom has made it my duty to care for these people, but if in his wisdom he could only put ’em away somewhere, anywhere, only take ’em away, what a relief it would be.” Quite likely; but he won’t take them away, and they are not going away. They are here, and something must be done with them. These grumblers forget that Christ came upon earth to suffer and toil and be humiliated for them; they see no duty in this opportunity; they find nothing but task and toil and trouble.

Having, however, for public good, emancipated four millions of slaves, we cannot let them alone, unless, first we build around them the laws and civil rights. The power that has severed the former relations must provide others. Who will take care of them? The


The people have effectually settled that proposition, and have determined that the masters shall not longer have anything to do with them. I hold that the North can take care of them, but the so doing would be a violation of the fundamental law of society, which says that every man must take care of himself. Take an army of one million men, to feed and care for them is a work of the greatest magnitude, and yet we have a nation of thirty millions of people, each of whom, takes care of himself very easily. The


Unidentified young African American soldier in Union uniform ([between 1863 and 1865); LOC:

“Every man who is under the law has a right to assist in framing it”

them long. How can they care for themselves without place or position? Admit that they are men. Now they are not known in law, in courts or civil duties. Enfranchise them, and give them the responsibilities of citizens. I set no premium on a black face, but I would give him just what we give to the meanest and poorest white man. I say, enfranchise the negro, not because it’s politic, nor on the ground of safety, but first because it’s his right as a man. Every man who is under the law has a right to assist in framing it, every man under a magistrate has a right to a voice in his election. This right goes with all faces and belongs to all men, and on this ground I advocate the black man’s


Grant that he is not prepared for it. When will he be? How will he become so? Let him try it, as a boy tries his skates; he may tumble once or twice. What if he does, he will learn by the effort. I would give the privilege to everybody, to the Irishman, and to all foreigners who come here to live; although I believe that in a majority of cases the negro would vote more intelligently and conscientiously than they. Its safe to give the privilege to everybody, and then to teach them.

(Mr. BEECHER then entered upon a long and slightly conversational explanation of his views upon the woman question, giving at length and with some humor his opinion as to the right of the fair sex at the ballot-box. It had no connection with the subject under discussion, and our unlimited space precludes its reproduction here.)

No man is fit to be an American statesman who is afraid of American ideas. Liberty is the boon of every man, and it carries with it civil rights and citizenship. In the older countries this idea progresses rapidly. In England the revolution is at hand; in France but one head is between it and reformation, not revolution — the sceptre is no longer the gilded stick in the hand of the monarch, but the little white ballot in the hand of the voter.

We must accept our own ideas. I believe in liberty and universal citizenship, and would give it to all, were they ten millions in number. I protest that this great question must not be kept for settlement, nor left in the hands of parties to be bargained and scrambled over in the race for power, nor to the selfish spirit of commerce, nor to the convenience of those who owned the slaves, nor to the necessary prejudice and the turbulent hatred of the ignorant among us who are blind to the fact that the whole question of their own right and elevation stands on the same ground.

Pioneers of freedom (1866; LOC:

“disturbers of the community and Radicals”(1866, Library of Congress)

No question is settled until it is settled right. We are called disturbers of the community and Radicals. So is the sap in trees; so is spring which heralds the glorious summer. It has pleased God to give us victory on the field of battle. Our late foes are again commingling pleasantly with us, and their leaders, seeing the folly of their course ask pardon and advise a return to peaceful avocations — what more could we ask? Presenting to the world this grand spectacle of might in war, of fraternity in peace, having no turbulent desires for military despotism brooding in the breasts of the thirteen hundred thousand soldiers who but a few weeks since bore our arms, what more fit, what more glorious crown can be given to the column, than the leading up to the status of citizenship the four millions emancipated black men, whose superiors we are, and whose servants in love, in Christ’s example, we should be?

Go then down among the poor and lost, seek them, find them, clothe them with all elements of citizienship, show them the light which you carry, establish and ordain them in liberty, and God shall give you a blessing that neither your children, nor your children’s children shall outlive to the remotest generation.

At the conclusion of the sermon, of which the foregoing is the briefest skeleton, the c[o]ngregation sang a hymn, and were dismissed, with the pastoral benediction.

You can read a racially-motivated opposition to the ideas of Henry Ward Beecher at the Library of Congress. The Black Republican and Office-Holders Journal, apparently published in New York in September 1865, featured “Loyal Nominations” on its front page – “For Mare of New York: Fred Duglas. For Sheriff: Henry Ward Beecher.”

NY Times 9-25-1865

NY Times 9-25-1865

This article did sort of remind me of the pope’s current visit to the USA. The all-caps subtitles didn’t show up in the NY Times’ online archives; I got them from the front page (the above clipping is an example). Images from the Library of Congress: Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Church, Good Samaritan, black soldier, abolitionists
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Northern Society, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Is this Democratic?”

150 years ago today Daniel Sickles wrote a letter to Hugh Judson Kilpatrick criticizing the New Jersey Democrat 1865 platform (see last section of the linked post). Moreover, New Jersey Democrats were even lagging behind South Carolina:

The party in power in New Jersey might learn a good deal from South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama. In these States, when Slavery was found dead, it was decently buried by the voluntary decrees of the people, pronounced by the Conventions now in session. New Jersey refuses her consent to an amendment of the Federal Constitution abolishing Slavery. Is this Democratic?

Here’s the whole letter (from the Library of Congress):

Democrats, will you read this? General Sickles on the New Jersey democrats ... [1865]. (LOC:

“Democrats, will you read this? General Sickles on the New Jersey democrats … [1865]. ” (Library of Congress)

Gen. Judson Kilpatrick  (LOC:

“Gen. Judson Kilpatrick” (Library of Congress)

Gen. Daniel E. Sickles  between 1855 and 1865;(LOC: between 1855 and 1865)

“Gen. Daniel E. Sickles ” (Library of Congress)

Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Postbellum Politics, Postbellum Society, Reconstruction | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“their sudden emancipation”

at Fort Blakely - "Probably the last charge of this war, it was as gallant as any on record." (Harper's Weekly 5-27-1865

at Fort Blakely – “Probably the last charge of this war, it was as gallant as any on record.” (Harper’s Weekly 5-27-1865

It’s going on six months since federal troops won the Battle of Fort Blakely on April 9, 1865 and a few days later occupied Mobile, Alabama. It is written that “The siege and capture of Fort Blakely was basically the last combined-force battle of the war.” Alabama was also the first home of the Confederate capital. 150 years ago this week delegates to a state convention passed an ordinance outlawing slavery in the state.

NY Times 9-24-1865

New York Times 9-24-1865

In Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama (1905; well-referenced) Walter L. Fleming discussed the convention and recapped the debate regarding the abolition of slavery:

In the debate in regard to the abolition of slavery, Mr. Coleman of Choctaw desired to know by what authority the people of Alabama had been deprived of their constitutional right to property in slaves. He urged the convention not to pass an ordinance to abolish slavery, but to leave the President’s proclamations and the acts of Congress to be tested by the Supreme Court; that there was no such thing as secession; a state could not be guilty of treason, and Alabama had committed no crime; individuals had done so; others were loyal and were entitled to their rights. Not only those who had always been loyal but also those who had taken the amnesty oath were entitled to their property; those pardoned by the President were entitled to the same rights, and Congress had no authority to seize property except during the lifetime of the criminal. The Federal government had no right to nullify the Constitution. The abolition of slavery should be accepted as an act of war, not as the free and voluntary act of the people of Alabama which latter course would prevent the “loyalists” of Alabama, from receiving compensation for slaves. He denied that slavery was non-existent; Lincoln’s proclamation did not destroy slavery; it was a question for the Supreme Court to decide, and to admit that Lincoln’s proclamation destroyed slavery was to admit the power of the President and Congress to nullify every law of the state. For all these reasons it was inexpedient for the convention to declare the abolition of slavery.

Parties in 1865 Convention (Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama page 359)

divided Alabama

Judge Foster of Calhoun answered that the war had settled the question of slavery and secession; that the question of slavery was beyond the power of the courts to decide, and, besides, a decision of the Supreme Court would not be respected. The question had to be decided by war, and having been so decided, there was no appeal from the decision. The institution of slavery had been destroyed by secession. The question was not open for discussion. Slavery, he said, does not exist, is utterly and forever destroyed,—by whom, when, where, is no matter. The power of arms is greater than all courts. Citizens should begin to make contracts with their former slaves. Should the Supreme Court declare the proclamations of the Presidents and the acts of Congress unconstitutional, slavery would not be restored. Whether destroyed legally or illegally, it was destroyed, and the people had better accept the situation and restore Federal relations.

Mr. White of Talladega proposed to abide by the proclamations of the President and the acts of Congress until the Supreme Court should decide the question of slavery. White said that he had opposed secession as long as he could; that the states were not out of the Union, but had all their rights as formerly. Mr. Lane of Butler wanted an ordinance to the effect that since the institution of slavery had been destroyed in the state of Alabama by act of the Federal government, therefore slavery no longer exists. This was lost by a vote of 66 to 17. On September 22, 1865, an ordinance was adopted by a vote of 89 to 3 which declared that the institution of slavery having been destroyed, neither slavery nor involuntary servitude should thereafter exist in the state, except as a punishment for crime. All provisions in the constitution regarding slavery were struck out, and it was made the duty of the next legislature to pass laws to protect the freedmen in the full employment of all their rights of person and property and to guard them and the state against any evils that might arise from their sudden emancipation. Mr. Taliafero Towles of Chambers, a “loyalist,” proposed an ordinance to make all “free negroes” who were not inhabitants of the state before 1861 leave the state. Mr. Langdon of Mobile regretted this proposition, and thought it would do harm. Mr. Towles explained that he lived near the Georgia line and that he was much annoyed by the negroes who came into Alabama from Georgia. Mr. Patton of Lauderdale opposed such a policy. It was unwise, he said; let people go where they pleased; he would invite people from all parts of the Union to Alabama. Mr. Mudd of Jefferson thought that such a measure would be extremely unwise. Mr. Hunter of Dallas said that it was very unwise, that it would do no good, and at such a time would be harmful. Passions must be allayed. Towles withdrew the resolution.

Fort Blakely 1865 (LOC:

“the war had settled the question of slavery and secession”

Historic Blakeley State Park, scene of the last major battle of the Civil War, Spanish Fort, Alabama (LOC:

“Historic Blakeley State Park, scene of the last major battle of the Civil War, Spanish Fort, Alabama ” (Library of Congress)

Yeah, life has been kind of dull since the war ended, so I was glad to be able to show a battle scene and a battle map. The battle image seems to be a colorized version of a drawing published in the May 27, 1865 issue of Harper’s Weekly (at Son of the South), where it was noted that it cost the Union 2000 in dead and wounded to clear the way to Mobile in early April 1865. (And where you can also see an early net-work). Go to the Library of Congress to find the battle map and Carol M. Highsmith’s recent photo at Spanish Fort (captured by the Union on April 8, 1865). You can also go to the Library and check out a Robert Knox Sneden map of the Mobile campaign with Spanish Fort and Blakely.
Posted in 150 Years Ago This Week, Aftermath, Confederate States of America, Military Matters, Postbellum Politics, Reconstruction, Southern Society | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


The state of South Carolina. At a convention an ordinance to dissolve the Union. (1865; LOC:

1860 ordinance – nullified in 1865

150 years ago today the South Carolina state constitutional convention repealed the December 20, 1860 Ordinance of Secession.

From The New-York Times September 19, 1865:

THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONVENTION.; Repeal of the Ordinance of Secession.

BOSTON, Monday, Sept. 18.

The Advertiser has the following special:

COLUMBIA, S.C., Friday, Sept. 15.

The State Convention has passed an ordinance repealing the ordinance of secession, without debate. There was no applause. Three delegates voted nay.


From The New-York Times September 28, 1865:

SOUTH CAROLINA.; Meeting of the Constitutional Convention The Governor’s Message Resolutions in Favor of Jeff. Davis Contested Seats Beginning the Work of Reconstruction. THIRD DAY FRIDAY, SEPT. 15. FOURTH DAY SATURDAY, SEPT. 16. BILL OF RIGHTS. THE DEBATE ON THE PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY.


[from Our Own Correspondent.]

COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 13, 1865.

In obedience to the Proclamation of Provisional Governor PERRY, the delegates of the people of South Carolina assembled at noon to-day in State Convention for the purpose of repealing the Ordinance of Secession and remodeling the State Constitution. The convention assembled in the Baptist Church, in which the Secession Convention of 1860 originally assembled, though that, after two sessions, adjourned to Charleston where the Ordinance of Secession was passed. That convention numbered 168 members. This has but 124 — that is, the proclamation gives that as the number. In point of fact, however, the number present will not probably exceed 115, for it is known that three parishes held no elections, while Bishop LYNCH is in Europe, and WADE HAMPTON is not expected here. There were present to-day 101 delegates, all the State except six parishes being represented. Nine or ten of the delegates were also delegates in the Secession Convention. …


Columbia_sc_ruins (South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol)

“South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol” (National Archives)

It seems that the fire-eaters are not yet all dead, for as soon as a committee had been appointed to wait on the Governor and tell him the convention was ready for business, Mr. ALDRICH, a delegate from the Barnwell district, offered the following resolution, which he asked might be printed, and made the special order for to-morrow:

Resolved, That under the present extraordinary circumstances it is both wise and politic to accept the condition in which we are placed; to endure patiently the evils which we cannot avert or correct; and to await calmly the time and opportunity to affect our deliverance from unconstitutional rule.

This produced an explosion at once. Mr. DUDLEY protested briefly against the passage or printing of any such resolution, and moved that it be laid on the table. Mr. ALDRICH briefly responded that he did not ask debate now, but would be prepared to defend the resolution to-morrow. Mr. FROST, of Charleston, also expressed the idea that the resolution was very objectionable. Mr. ALDRICH responded that no one would deny that the people of this State are living under a military despotism, repugnant alike to the people and the spirit of the Federal Constitution; and for his part, he hoped for the speedy overthrow of the party now in power in the North. Mr. MCGOWAN, of the Abbeville District, who was a General in the Confederate service, and bears the marks of several wounds, denounced the resolution in a brief speech of thrilling eloquence, which brought applause from the delegates and the galleries. Mr. ALDRICH again responded that he meant just what the resolution says — to be quiet till we were strong enough, through the aid of the Democratic Party of the North, to get a constitutional government. Ex-Gov. PICKENS said it did not become the people of South Carolina to bluster now, and he seconded the motion to lay the resolution on the table, which prevailed very decisively, with only four or five dissenting votes. This was the feature of the day’s work. …



THURSDAY, Sept. 14.

The convention is laying out a great deal of business for itself, and gentlemen who proposed doing all the work in a week at most, are disconsolate. …


NYT 9-28-1865

New York Times – September 28, 1865

[THIRD DAY – FRIDAY, SEPT. 15.] [see front page clipping]

The event of the day has been the passage of an ordinance repealing the ordinance of secession. It was introduced on Wednesday by Ex-Gov. PICKENS, referred on yesterday to a special committee of three, of which he was chairman, and he reported it back this morning, and asked its immediate passage. Two brief speeches were made yesterday on the question of reference, but there was no talking to-day. On a call of the roll, the vote stood 105 yeas and 3 nays, the nays being the three delegates from the Barnwell district — Messrs. ALDRICH, BRABHAM and WHETSTONE. Mr. ALDRICH explained that the dominant party of the North had proclaimed for four years that the States were not out of the Union, and he couldn’t see any sense, therefore, in passing such an ordinance. The passage was received in silence — strikingly suggestive when one remembered with what dramatic applause the ordinance of secession was proclaimed passed.

Immediately after the passage of this ordinance, there came to light the following very remarkable resolutions, which were introduced by Mr. WM. WALLACE, one of the delegates from this city:

Whereas, By the fortunes of war, our former noble and beloved Chief Magistrate, JEFFERSON DAVIS, is now languishing in prison, awaiting his trial for treason; and

Whereas, The fanatics of the North, not satisfied with the wide-spread ruin and desolation which they have caused, are shrieking for his blood;

Resolved, That it is the paramount duty of South Carolina, who led the way in our late struggle for independence, and for which struggle he is now suffering, to use every lawful means in her power to avert the doom which threatens him.

Resolved, That to this end, a deputation of members of this body be sent to the City of Washington, in behalf of the people of South Carolina, to ask of His Excellency, the President of the United States, to extend to the Hon. JEFFERSON DAVIS that clemency which he has shown to us, who are equally the sharers of his guilt, if guilt there be, and which is accomplishing so much toward restoring the peace and harmony of the Union.

The fluttering began before the reading of these resolutions was finished, and several members were on their feet at once. Mr. DUDLEY got the floor and quietly suggested that this was scarcely appropriate language for a body which had just returned the State to the Union, and was relying on the generosity of the North for full admission again into the sisterhood of States. Two or three other delegates made remarks to the same effect, and Mr. WALLACE then accepted as a substitute, a simple resolution, appointing a committee to memoralize the President in favor of the pardon of DAVIS, STEPHENS, MAGRATH and TRENHOLM. …



The Palmetto State song (1861; LOC:

what were we thinking …

During the day an immense number of resolutions were presented and referred to the appropriate committees. They touch almost every conceivable question of State policy, but are merely representative of individual views, and need not, therefore, be given in this record. They are indicative, however, of a disposition to make some sweeping and radical changes in the constitution.



The various committees are at work in good earnest, and already begin to make their reports. The report on the slavery question was made this morning. It declares that whereas slavery has been destroyed by the military force of the United States, therefore be it ordained that henceforth slavery shall not exist in this State, but that all persons heretofore held as slaves are, and they and their descendants forever shall be, free; provided, however, that the General Assembly may ordain involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime whereof any party is duly convicted. This ordinance is made the order for Monday next, and will probably pass without much debate, except as to the phraseology. …


[A few days later the convention debated whether slavery should be prohibited in the new state constitution. Read all about it at the Times link]


COLUMBIA. Tuesday, Sept. 19, 1865.

The convention to-day were employed chiefly in discussing the question of the prohibition of slavery in this State. As this is the subject on which we are all most deeply interested, I shall, at the risk of taking up more of your space than your Columbia correspondent is fully entitled to, give you in this letter a copy of my notes of the debate. …


On a call of the yeas and nays, the clause was adopted, and at the time that your correspondent writes negro slavery has ceased forever to be an organic law of the State of South Carolina.

The attendance on the sessions of the convention is not large, but increasing daily. Possibly one hundred persons were present to-day in the galleries of the church. No ladies were present on the first day; on the second day there were four, evidently of the middling class of society; yesterday the number from that class was increased; and to-day there were about a score present of those who evidently class themselves among the elite of the city. DOVER.

Speaking of South Carolina The American Civil War has posted about an 1849 written debate between native son John C. Calhoun and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Flags at Fort Sumter in South Carolina (LOC:

“Flags at Fort Sumter in South Carolina” (Library of Congress)

The images found at the Library of Congress: secession ordinance (a copy found by Union troops in March 1865); state song; Carol M. Highsmith’s photo of Fort Sumter since 1980. The view of Columbia apparently after it was torched in February 1865 by General Sherman’s troops comes from the National Archives
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Whose Maryland?

Maryland, my Maryland!  (LOC:

famous tune unionized

150 years ago this week Gotham’s Times thought it was pretty funny that a presumed states-rights Democrat would appeal to the federal Constitution to negate Maryland’s election law.

From The New-York Times September 8, 1865:

The Democracy and State Rights.

We are among those who believe that the general government has no constitutional right to prescribe the qualifications of voters in the several States, and on that ground have sustained without hesitation the course of President JOHNSON in leaving the question of negro suffrage to the absolute discretion of each State. The Democrats readily enough accept this principle, so far as it bears upon the black man; but down in Maryland, at least, they take it in a very different spirit when it applies to the white. The new constitution of Maryland prescribes a stringent oath of loyalty to be taken by every voter, and also authorizes the Legislature to provide for the disfranchisement of all disloyal persons. This exercise of the sovereign power of the State over the electoral qualifications, has given the Copperheads of the State intense dissatisfaction. They asseverate that it is not only intrinsically despotic, but that it is a violation of that clause of the Constitution of the United States, which insures to each State a republican form of government. At length Mr. THOMAS ANDERSON, one of the disfranchised, has resolved to seek his remedy. He first makes a formal demand that his name shall be registered as a legal and qualified voter, without taking the oath required by law. His language is:

States rights song. (LOC:States rights song. )

“shoot both ways” in Maryland

“In making this demand, I pronounce so much of the new constitution, and the act of the Legislature, as confer upon you these despotic powers over the dearest rights of your fellow-citizens, to be null and void; as glaring usurpations of power, unwarranted by the fundamental principles of free government, and directly in conflict with the letter and spirit of several clauses of the Federal Constitution, which I regard as the paramount law of the land. In the event of your declining, at once, to register my name as a legal voter, I protest against your usurpation of power, and shall claim the protection of our National Constitution by all lawful means at my command.”

He has already applied to a State court for the issue of a mandamus that his name shall be registered; and, in case it is refused, will, as he declares, appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. If he gets his case there, it will be a rare spectacle: a sympathizer with a rebellion, made in the name of State rights, calling upon the National Government to annul the exercise of what his own party declares to be the most indisputable of all those rights — the exclusive regulation of domestic suffrage. But for all that, his party in Maryland, with characteristic consistency, makes common cause with him.

O, lovely Dixie's land. Baltimore, April, 1861 (LOC (

“O touch not Dixie’s land
Ye Yankees full of art”

In the first few pages (7-10) of The Maryland Constitution of 1864 (1901) William Starr Myers recapped what it was like to be the Border State Maryland from 1860. The seed of slavery vs. freedom contention was planted in the U.S. Constitution as ratified in 1788. The doctrine of State’s Rights veiled this contention, but the Civil War was finally fought to settle the question. Maryland “united within her borders” both the slave system in the south and “practically free labor” in the north. Baltimore was a “seething cauldron of divided political sentiment.” Maryland reflected the “bitter strife” in the nation at large. The federal government often interfered in Maryland affairs because Washington could not become totally surrounded by rebel states. This federal intervention became even more urgent because a majority of Marylanders “were strongly opposed to coercing the South.” In 1860 there were “83,942 free negroes and 87,189 slaves.” By early 1862 “the institution of slavery in Maryland became utterly demoralized. The master lost all control over his slave.” “Although useless for all practical purposes, [slavery] was by no means dead politically.”


Crowd at the Baltimore depot before the funeral arrived (4-21-1865; LOC:

“Crowd at the Baltimore depot before the funeral arrived” (President Lincoln’s funeral, April 21, 1865 (Library of Congress)

Confederate Monument, Baltimore, Md. (between 1900 and 1906; LOC:

“Confederate Monument, Baltimore, Md.” (c.1900, Library of Congress)

The Library of Congress provides the images of My Maryland, States rights song, Dixie’s Land, , funeral crowd, and Confederate monument

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free to “help yourselves”

And to help your helpers

Freedman's Aid 9-1-1865 New England Freedman's aid society to the colored people of the South. Letter from Gov. Andrew, of Massachusetts. Fellow-Citizens ... Boston, Mass. Sept. 1, 1865. (LOC:

(Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division)

Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew served as president of the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society from its founding in 1862.

Two African American boys, full-length portrait, facing front] / J. R. Shockley, photographer, West Side of Main St., Hannibal, Mo. (between 1860 and 1865; LOC:

“free to receive help in becoming intelligent citizens”

John A. Andrew statue, State House, Boston, Mass. (between 1900 and 1906; LOC:

“Liberty means a fair chance … and the opportunity to be and become all that our own faculties and our own good purposes may command.”

Unidentified African American boy standing in front of painted backdrop showing American flag and tents ; campaign button with portraits of Lincoln on one side and Johnson on the opposite side are attached to inside cover of case (between 1861 and 1865; LOC:

emancipation from slavery and from ignorance

Check out the Library of Congress for information about the letter, the statue, two boys, and emancipation
I found Governor Andrew’s letter a bit of a wake-up call for me to be a better steward in this Land of Liberty.
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President Lee

Gen. Robert E. Lee, C.S.A. (between 1860 and 1870; LOC:

“set an example of submission to authority”

From The New-York Times September 7, 1865:

Gen. Lee Accepts the Presidency of Washington College.

From the Lexington Gazette Extra.

The gratifying duty of announcing to the country the acceptance by Gen. ROBERT E. LEE of the Presidency of Washington College has been devolved upon the undersigned by the Board of Trustees of that institution. The accession of this distinguished gentleman to the faculty of this venerable college, and as its honored chief, is destined, we trust, to mark the commencement of a new era in its history, and most cordially do we congratulate its numerous friends on this most auspicious event. The high, noble and patriotic motives which impelled our beloved chief, in accepting the honorable, but comparatively humble, position tendered to him by the authorities of the college, must win for him a new title to the admiration and love of his countrymen. The college, under the administration and supervision of Gen. LEE, will resume its exercises on the 14th inst.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the college, convened at Lexington, on Thursday, the 31st ult., the following resolution was unanimously passed, the publication of which is demanded as an act of justice alike to Gen. LEE and themselves:

Resolved, That the board heartily concurs in, and fully indorses, the sentiments so well expressed by Gen. LEE in his letter of acceptance of the Presidency of Washington College, that “it is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony, and in no way to oppose the policy of the State or General Government directed to that object;” and that “it is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the young to set an example of submission to authority;” sentiments that cannot fail to commend themselves to the approval of the President of the United States, and to the unqualified assent of all sensible and virtuous citizens.

In dedicating his future life to the holy work of educating the youth of his country, Gen. LEE presents a new and interesting phase of his grand and heroic character — a character than which no more perfect model exists among living men. “‘Tis a solid fabric, and will well support the laurels that adorn it.” Let the young men of the country, North as well as South, be wise, and profit not less by his precepts than by his great example.


Rector of Washington College.

LEXINGTON, Va., Sept. 1, 1865.

According to Gene Smith[1]:

At first glance the job seemed ridiculous. If Lee wanted to assume the tasks of an educator, his friends and family said, he could certainly find himself a post with some great university. But little Washington College in Lexington, forty students? Lee did not see it that way. The work lent its own dignity, he said. If the college wanted him, he would go. This was the job that Providence had made available to him. On September 18, a lone horseman four days on the road in an old Confederate uniform with buttons and insignia removed, rode into the main street of the mountain town and dismounted in front of the Central Hotel.

The Wikipedia link above outlines Robert E. Lee’s achievements at the college.

"grand and heroic character"

“grand and heroic character”

You could say that General Lee always set an example of submission to authority; Virginia’s authority could no longer be paramount.
The Library of Congress provides the formal portrait and the tobacco package label
  1. [1] Smith, Eugene O. Lee and Grant, A Dual Biography. New York: Promontory Press, 1984. Print. page 298.
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It’s up to Uncle Sam


justice and prudence

For, disguise it as we may, the United States government really holds and exercises the power which gives vitality to the preliminaries of reconstruction, and it is therefore responsible for all evils in the future which shall spring from its neglect or injustice in the present.

Earlier this month Seven Score and Ten published a letter written by Mississippi politician Henry S. Foote that advocated black suffrage as a necessary policy for the South to be reunited to the North:

We must, in order to assure our own return to liberty and happiness, not only recognize the colored denizens of the South as now free, but we must allow them the same means of preserving their freedom that we ourselves desire to possess. They must be freedmen in fact as well as in name. We must consent to their being invested with the elective franchise; and this must be done, too, no matter what cherished notions we may entertain in regard to the mental inferiority of those whom some of us have heretofore regarded as the doomed posterity of Ham.

150 years ago a Northern publication made a similar case. I didn’t read all 6200 words (without pictures!), but here are a few excerpts from The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVI.—AUGUST, 1865.—NO. XCIV.:


The submission of the Rebel armies and the occupation of the Rebel territory by the forces of the United States are successes which have been purchased at the cost of the lives of half a million of loyal men and a debt of nearly three thousand millions of dollars; but, according to theories of State Rights now springing anew to life, victory has smitten us with impotence. The war, it seems, was waged for the purpose of forcing the sword out of the Rebel’s hands, and forcing into them the ballot. At an enormous waste of treasure and blood, we have acquired the territory for which we fought; and lo! it is not ours, but belongs to the people we have been engaged in fighting, in virtue of the constitution we have been fighting for. The Federal government is now, it appears, what Wigfall elegantly styled it four years ago,—nothing but “the one-horse concern at Washington”: the real power is in the States it has subdued. We are therefore expected to act like the savage, who, after thrashing his Fetich for disappointing his prayers, falls down again and worships it. Our Fetich is State Rights, as perversely misunderstood. The Rebellion would have been soon put down, had it been merely an insurrectionary outbreak of masses of people without any political organization. Its tremendous force came from its being a revolt of States, with the capacity to employ those powers of taxation and conscription which place the persons and property of all residing in political communities at the service of their governments. And now that characteristic which gave strength to the Rebel communities in war is invoked to shield them from Federal regulation in defeat. We are required to substitute technicalities for facts; to consider the Rebellion—what it notoriously was not—a mere revolt of loose aggregations of men owing allegiance to the United States; and to hold the States, which endowed them with such a perfect organization and poisonous vitality, as innocent of the crime. The verbal dilemma in which this reasoning places us is this: that the Rebel States could not do what they did, and therefore we cannot do what we must. Among other things which it is said we cannot do, the prescribing of the qualifications of voters in the States occupies the most important place; and it is necessary to inquire whether the Rebel communities now held by our military power are States, in the sense that word bears in the Federal Constitution. If they are, we have not only no right to say that negroes shall enjoy in them the privilege of voting, but no right to prescribe any qualifications for white voters. …

[Several arguments that the rebel states are currently not Constitutional states and that the federal government has the right and power to decide who has the right to vote in the rebel territories]

It is often said, that, although the Federal government may have the right and power to decide who shall be considered “the people” of the Rebel States, in so important a matter as the conversion of them into States of the Federal Union, it is still politic and just to make the qualifications of voters as nearly as possible what they were before the Rebellion. Conceding this, we still have to face the fact, that a large body of men, held before the war as slaves, have been emancipated, and added to the body of the people. They are now as free as the white men. The old constitutions of the Slave States could have no application to the new condition of affairs. The change in the circumstances, by which four years have done the ordinary work of a century, demands a corresponding change in the application of old rules, even admitting that we should take them as a guide. Having converted the loyal blacks from slaves into the condition of citizens of the United States, there can be no reason or justice or policy in allowing them to be made, in localities recently Rebel, the subjects of whites who have but just purged themselves from the guilt of treason.

The question of negro suffrage being thus reduced to a question of expediency, to be decided on its own merits, the first argument brought against it is based on the proposition, that it is inexpedient to give the privilege of voting to the ignorant and unintelligent. This sounds well; but a moment’s reflection shows us that the objection is directed simply against deficiencies of education and intelligence which happen to be accompanied with a black skin. Three fifths or three fourths of the poor whites of the South cannot read or write; and they are cruelly belied, if they do not add to their ignorance that more important disqualification for good citizenship,—indisposition or incapacity for work. In general, the American system proceeds on the idea that the best way of qualifying men to vote is voting, as the best way of teaching boys to swim is to let them go into the water. “Our national experience,” says Chief-Justice Chase, in a letter to the New Orleans freedmen, “has demonstrated that public order reposes most securely on the broad base of Universal Suffrage. It has proved, also, that universal suffrage is the surest guaranty and most powerful stimulus of individual, social, and political progress.” But even if we take the ground, that education and suffrage, though not actually, should properly be, identical, the argument would not apply to the case of the freedmen. What we need primarily at the South is loyal citizens of the United States, and treason there is in inverse proportion to ignorance. If, in reconstructing the Rebel communities, we make suffrage depend on education, we inevitably put the local governments into the hands of a small minority of prominent Confederates whom we have recently defeated; of men physically subdued, but morally rebellious; of men who have used their education simply to destroy the prosperity created by the industry of the ignorant and enslaved, and who, however skilful they may be as “architects of ruin,” have shown no capacity for the nobler art which repairs and rebuilds. If, on the other hand, we make suffrage depend on color, we disfranchise the only portion of the population on whose allegiance we can thoroughly rely, and give the States over to white ignorance and idleness led by white intrigue and disloyalty. We are placed by events in that strange condition in which the safety of that “republican form of government” we desire to insure the Southern States has more safeguards in the instincts of the ignorant than in the intelligence of the educated. The right of the freedmen, not merely to the common privileges of citizens, but to own themselves, depends on the connection of the States in which they live with the United States being preserved. They must know that Secession and State Independence mean their reënslavement. Saulsbury of Delaware, and Willey of West Virginia, declared in the Senate, in 1862, that the Rebel States, when they came back into the Union, would have the legal power to reënslave any blacks whom the National government might emancipate; and it is only the plighted faith of the United States to the freedmen, which such a proceeding would violate, which can prevent the crime from being perpetrated. It is as citizens of the United States, and not as inhabitants of North Carolina or Mississippi, that their freedom is secure. Their instincts, their interests, and their position will thus be their teachers in the duties of citizenship. They are as sure to vote in accordance with the most advanced ideas of the time as most of the embittered aristocracy are to vote for the most retrograde. They will, though at first ignorant, necessarily be in political sympathy with the most educated voters of New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts; if they were as low in the scale of being as their bitterest revilers assert, they would still be forced by their instincts into intuitions of their interests; and their interests are identical with those of civilization and progress. We suppose that those who think them most degraded would be willing to concede to them the possession of a little selfish cunning; and a little selfish cunning is enough to bring them into harmony with the purposes, if not the spirit, of the largest-minded philanthropy and statesmanship of the North.

It is claimed, we know, by some of the hardiest dealers in assertion, that the freedmen will vote as their former masters shall direct; but as this argument is generally put forward by those whose sympathies are with the former masters rather than with the emancipated bondmen, one finds it difficult to understand why they should object to a policy which will increase the power of those whom they wish to be dominant. …

We think, then, it may be taken for granted, that, while ignorant, the freedmen will vote right by the force of their instincts, and that the education they require will be the result of their possessing the political power to demand it. Free schools are not the creations of private benevolence, but of public taxation; it is useless to expect a system of universal education in a community which does not rest on universal suffrage; and the children of the poor freeman are educated at the public expense, not so much by the pleading of the children’s needs as by the power of the father’s ballot. To take the ground, that the “superior” race will educate the “inferior” race it has but just held in bondage, that it will humanely set to work to prepare and qualify the “niggers” to be voters, only escapes from being considered the artifice of the knave by charitably referring it to the credulity of the simpleton. We do not send, as Mr. Sumner has happily said, “the child to be nursed by the wolf”; and he might have added, that the only precedent for such a proceeding, the case of Romulus and Remus, has lost all the little force it may once have had by the criticism of Niebuhr.

If the negroes do not get the power of political self-protection in the conventions of the people which are now to be called, it is not reasonable to expect they will ever get it by the consent of the whites. … For, disguise it as we may, the United States government really holds and exercises the power which gives vitality to the preliminaries of reconstruction, and it is therefore responsible for all evils in the future which shall spring from its neglect or injustice in the present.

Civil War contraband (between 1862 and 1865; LOC:

five-fifths a citizen now (Library of Congress)

The addition, too, of four millions of persons to the people of the South, without any corresponding addition of voters, will increase the political power of the ruling whites to an alarming extent, while it will remove all checks on its mischievous exercise. The constitution declares that “representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included in this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.” The unanswerable argument presented at the time against the clause relating to the slaves did not prevent its adoption. “If,” it was said, “the negroes are property, why is other property not represented? if men, why three fifths?” Still the South has always enjoyed the double privilege of treating the negro as an article of merchandise and of using three fifths of him as political capital. He has thus added to the power by which he was enslaved, and has been represented in Congress by persons who regarded him either as a beast or as “a descendant of Ham.” In 1860, when the ratio of representation was about one hundred and twenty-seven thousand, the South had, by the three-fifths rule, the right to eighteen more representatives in Congress, and eighteen more electoral votes, than it would have had, if only free persons had been counted. The emancipation of the slaves will give it twelve more; for the blacks will now no longer be constitutional fractions, but constitutional units. The three-fifths arrangement was a monstrous anomaly; but the five-fifths will be worse, if negro suffrage be denied. Four millions of free people will, by the mere fact of being inhabitants of Southern territory, confer a political power equal to thirty members of Congress, and yet have no voice in their election. It has been computed by the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, in a paper on the subject, published in the New York “Tribune,” that in some States, where the blacks and whites are about equal in number, and where two thirds of the whites shall “qualify” as voters, this new condition of things will give the Southern white voter, in a Presidential or Congressional election, three times as much political influence as a Northern voter. …

But this great power, wielded by a population imperfectly qualified to vote, in the name of a population which do not vote at all,—a power equivalent to thirty members of Congress and thirty electoral votes,—will be directed as much against Northern interests as against negro interests. …

One result of Southern predominance everybody can appreciate. The national debt is so interwoven with every form of the business and industry of the loyal States that its repudiation would be the most appalling of evils. A tax to pay it at once would not produce half the financial derangement and moral disorder which repudiation would cause; for repudiation, as Mirabeau well observed, is nothing but taxation in its most cruel, unequal, iniquitous, and calamitous form. But what reason have we to think that a reconstructed South, dominant in the Federal government, would regard the debt with feelings similar to ours? The negroes would associate it with their freedom, of which it was the price; their late masters would view it as the symbol of their humiliation, which it was incurred to effect. …

From every point of view, then, in which we can survey the subject, negro suffrage is, unless we are destitute of the commonest practical reason, the logical sequence of negro emancipation. It is not more necessary for the protection of the freedmen than for the safety and honor of the nation. Our interests are inextricably bound up with their rights. The highest requirements of abstract justice coincide with the lowest requirements of political prudence. And the largest justice to the loyal blacks is the real condition of the widest clemency to the Rebel whites. If the Southern communities are to be reorganized into Federal States, it is of the first importance that they should be States whose power rests on the proscription or degradation of no class of their population. It would be a great evil, if they were absolutely governed by a faction, even if that faction were a minority of the “loyal” people, whose loyalty consisted in merely taking an oath which the most unscrupulous would be the readiest to take, because the readiest to break. We are bound either to give them a republican form of government, or to hold them in the grasp of the military power of the nation; and we cannot safely give them anything which approaches a republican form of government, unless we allow the great mass of the free people the right to vote. And least of all should we think of proscribing that particular class of the free people who most thoroughly represent in their localities the interests of the United States, and whose ballots would at once do the work and save the expense of an army of occupation.


NJ Platforms 1865 (The two platforms. Look on this picture. Union platform, adopted at Trenton, July 20, 1865. And then on this! Democratic platform, adopted at Trenton, August 30, 1865. Jersey City. From the Times" Printing House, 43 Montgomery Street [1865].; LOC:

platforms for New Jersey state elections in the fall of 1865

This image of the side-by-side New Jersey state platforms from 150 years ago this month have a couple planks about slavery and voting rights. The Republicans didn’t specifically mention black suffrage; the Democrats were opposed. You can find it at the Library of Congress

The Republicans: “pledge the unanimous support of the Union men of New Jersey to the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and we feel deeply humiliated by the position of our State as the only free State which has refused to ratify that amendment; [even many rebels acknowledge the necessity of freeing the slaves, but New Jersey Democrats] still strives against the spirit of the age, the conscience of the people and the irresistible tendencies of freedom, by thwarting a policy plainly essential to the future security and welfare of the nation.” The next Republican plank puts new emphasis on the words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” and governments were set up to secure the principles of the Declaration.

The Democrats resolved “that we are most emphatically opposed to negro suffrage, and entirely agree with President Johnson, that the people of each State have the right to control that subject as they deem best.”

The picture of the ballot box comes from wpclipart
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