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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: February 26, 1867

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Passage of the Bill for the Government of the Southern States
(Column 01)
Summary: An account of the negotiations between the Senate and the House on the Reconstruction bill, including a copy of the bill as finally passed.
Full Text of Article:

On Wednesday, the 13th inst., the military bill offered by Thad. Stevens, and which we published last week, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 109 to 55. In the Senate on Saturday, the 16th, Mr. Sherman offered a substitute for Stevens' military bill, which was adopted by a vote of 32 to 3-Messrs. Buckalew, Davis and Saulsbury voting in the negative. Mr. Doolittle moved an additional section that no sentence of death under this act shall be carried into execution without the approval of the President. Adopted-yeas 21, nays 16. The bill as thus amended, passed the Senate by a vote of 29 to 10.

On Monday, the 18th, the House refused to concur in the amendments of the Senate and asked a committee of conference. On Tuesday, the 19th, the Senate insisted on its amendments and refused to appoint a committee of conference. On the same day the House voted against agreeing to the amendments of the Senate by a vote of 98 nays to 73 yeas, and then the motion for a committee of conference was agreed to without a division. Messrs. Stevens, Shellabarger and Blaine being appointed the committee of conference on the part of the House.

On Wednesday, the 20th, Mr. Wilson moved to concur with the Senate Amendment with the addition of a proviso to fifth section. [See proviso at the end of fifth section of the bill as adopted.] Mr. Shellabarger moved an amendment to the amendment to come in as a new motion. [See section sixth of the bill as adopted.] Mr. Shellabarger's amendment was adopted by a vote of 98 to 70.

The question then recurred on agreeing to Mr. Wilson's motion-to concur with the Senate amendment, with the amendment offered by Mr. Wilson, as that was amended on the motion of Mr. Shellabarger.

The vote was taken by yeas and nays, and resulted-yeas 125, nays 46-a strict party vote. So the Senate amendment, as thus modified was agreed to, and the bill was (at quarter past one) sent back to the Senate.

The bill as thus amended was sent to the Senate, where, after some discussion and the defeat of several proposed amendments, it was adopted, as amended in the House, by the vote of 35 to 7.

The following is the bill as passed by both Houses of Congress: COPY OF THE BILL

WHEREAS, no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property now exist in the rebel States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Arkansas, and whereas, it is necessary that peace and good order should be enforced in said State until loyal and republican State governments can be legally established; therefore,

Be it enacted, &c, That said rebel States shall be divided into military districts and made subject to the military authority of the United States, as hereinafter prescribed; and for that purpose Virginia shall constitute the first district, North Carolina and South Carolina the second district, Georgia, Alabama and Florida the third district, Mississippi and Arkansas the fourth district, and Louisiana and Texas the fifth district.

SEC. 2. That it shall be the duty of the President to assign to the command of each of said districts an officer of the army not below the rank of brigadier general, and to detail a sufficient military force to enable such officer to perform his duties and enforce his authority within the district to which he is assigned.

SEC. 3. That it shall be the duty of each officer assigned as aforesaid to protect all persons in their rights of person and property to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence, and to punish or cause to be punished all disturbers of the public peace and criminals, and to this end he may allow local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of and try offenders, or, when in his judgment it may be necessary for the trial of offenders, he shall have power to organize military commissions or tribunals for that purpose; and all interference under color of State authority with the exercise of military authority under this act shall be null and void.

SEC. 4. That all persons put under military arrest by virtue of this act shall be tried without unnecessary delay, and no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted; and no sentence of any military commission or tribunal hereby authorized, affecting the life or liberty of any person, shall be executed until it is approved by the officer in command of the district; and the laws and regulations for the government of the army shall not be affected by this act, except in so far as they may conflict with its provisions: Provided , That no sentence of death under the provisions of this act shall be carried into effect without the approval of the President.

SEC. 5. That when the people of any one of the said rebel States shall have formed a constitution of government in conformity with the Constitution of the United States in all respects framed by a convention of delegates elected by the male citizens of said State twenty-one years old and upward, of whatever race, color, or previous condition, who have been resident in said State for on year previous to the day of such election, except such as may be disfranchised for participation in the rebellion, or for felony at common law; and when such constitution shall provide that the elective franchise shall be enjoyed by all such persons as have the qualifications herein stated for election of delegates; and when such constitution shall be ratified by a majority of the persons voting on the question of ratification who are qualified as electors for delegates, and when such constitution shall have been submitted to Congress for examination and approval, and Congress shall have approved the same; and when said State, by a vote of its Legislature, elected under said Constitution, and when said constitution, shall have adopted the amendment to the Constitution of the United States proposed by the Thirty-ninth Congress, and known as article fourteenth, and when said article shall have become a part of the Constitution of the United States, said State shall be declared entitled to representation in Congress, and Senators and Representatives shall be admitted therefrom on their taking the oath prescribed by law, and ten and thereafter the preceding sections of this bill shall be inoperative in said State: Provided , that no person excluded from the privilege of holding office by said proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States shall be eligible to election as a member of the convention to frame a constitution for any of said rebel States; nor shall any such person vote for members of said convention.

SEC. 6. And be it further executed, That until the people of the said rebel States shall be by law, admitted to representation in Congress of the United States, any civil governments that may exist therein shall be deemed provisional only, and, in all respects, subject to the paramount authority of the United States at any time, to abolish, modify, control or supersede the same; and, in all elections to any office under such provisional governments, all persons shall be entitled to vote, and none others, who are entitled to vote under the provisions of the fifth section of this act; and no person shall be eligible to any office, under such provisional governments, who would be disqualified from holding office under the provisions of the third article of said constitutional amendment.

The following is the third article of the constitutional amendment to which reference is made in the last clause of the bill:

SEC 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in congress, or elector of President or Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any States, who, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as member of any State Legislature, or as an Executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid and comfort to the enemies thereof; but Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

"Southern Loyalists"
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Summary: Excoriates Southerners who call themselves loyalists and warns that "negroes, if invested with the right of suffrage . . . would inevitably prefer a man of their own color" to a white Radical.
Origin of Article: Lynchburg News
Full Text of Article:

The "Southern Loyalists," as they inappropriately call themselves, are actuated, not by a spirit of patriotism and love of constitutional liberty, but by an inordinate greed for the spoils of office and the exercise of power. To accomplish their ends, they misrepresent the feelings and conduct of the Southern people, and favor the enfranchisement of the negroes and the disfranchisement of nineteen-twentieths of the Southern whites. The Lynchburg News very properly says, that "the anxiety to secure political power and place lies at the bottom of all the mendacious complaints, and fictitious persecutions of which the "loyal" citizens of the South have so loudly complained, but the difficulty of securing the object of their earnest aspirations seems almost insurmountable. The truth is, that they are in so contemptible a minority that it is difficult to frame any measure, which permits white men to vote at all, which will not insure the defeat of these very patriotic gentlemen. The only chance for their promotion seems to lie in the enactment of some such bill as that of Elliott's, conferring suffrage on the negroes and disfranchising the whites. But even this scheme is by no means certain to result in their advancement, for the effect of such a law would be the selection of negroes to fill the various offices. The Radicals who suppose that the negroes, if invested with the right of suffrage, would vote for them, reckon without their host. They would inevitably prefer a man of their own color, and the disfranchised whites, who would really control nine-tenths of the negro vote, would have no hesitation in using their influence in favor of some respectable and honest negro, rather than for one of those suffering martyrs who have such a yearning desire to monopolize all the offices of the State.

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Local News
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Summary: At the request of many citizens, the concert at the Presbyterian Church was repeated last Thursday. Once again, inclement weather decreased the attendance.
Local News--"Philomathesian"
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Summary: The Philomathesian debating society addressed the question "Is dueling ever justifiable?" last Saturday night. The final vote was 21 to 6 in the affirmative.
(Names in announcement: A. Moore, C. W. Turner, Geo. Harrison, Ker, O'Ferrall, Hanger, Harrison, Effinger, Chewning, A. G. Points)
Full Text of Article:

The question, "Is dueling ever justifiable," was luminously and voluminously debated before the Philomathesian Society last Saturday night. Mr. A. Moor in the affirmative and appointed to open the discussion, being unwell, was not present, so that Mr. C. W. Turner, in the negative entertained and edified the Society with a very able and eloquent address. The following gentlemen also participated in the debate in such a manner as reflected great credit upon their ability as debaters: Messrs. Harrison, Ker, O'Ferrall and Hanger in the affirmative, and Messrs. Harrison, Effinger and Chewning in the negative.-The question being submitted to the Society it was decided in the affirmative by a vote of 21 to 6.

The question for next Saturday night, "Should capital punishment be abolished," will be opened by Messrs. Geo. Harrison and A. G. Points.-From the known eloquence and established merits of these two gentlemen as debaters, a very interesting time is expected.

The Philomathesians are now about forty (40) strong; they are getting along finely, and have a splendid time generally, this we are glad to know, and happy to witness their rapid growth.

"Long may they wave."

Negro Suffrage Inevitable if Sherman's Bill Becomes a Law
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Summary: Argues that the "ingenious malignancy" of the Reconstruction bill will ensure that whatever course the South takes there will be "no refuge from negro suffrage" and encourages the ablest lawyers in the General Assembly to challenge the bill before the Supreme Court, "where it will be thoroughly demolished."
Origin of Article: Richmond Times
Full Text of Article:

The "Reconstruction bill" is framed with such ingenious malignancy, that whether we adopt the constitutional amendment or prefer to continue in our present unrepresented condition, we cannot avoid negro suffrage. * * * * * * *

If this bill becomes a law, at the Virginia elections, in May next, for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and members of the General Assembly, every male negro in Virginia above the age of twenty-one will be entitled to vote. Nor are we permitted to allow this election to go by default, for the Alexandria Constitution provides that these elections shall take place in May next. We are denied the privilege of seeking refuge in a purely military despotism by the abolition of this provisional government, for it rests with the Federal Government, and not with ourselves, to determine whether this State government shall be continued or abolished.

Whether, therefore, we adopt the "constitutional amendment," with negro suffrage, and Congressional representation "annexed." or prefer to continue as we are, we cannot, if SHERMAN'S bill becomes a law, avoid almost immediate negro equality at the ballot box.

The Alexandria Constitution says we shall have certain elections in the spring, and the SHERMAN'S bill says that at those elections, all male negroes twenty-one years of age shall be allowed to vote.

We lose no time in pointing out to our readers the horns of the dilemma upon which this bill impales us. It allows no refuge from negro suffrage, and there is no escape except through the agency of the Supreme Court.

The monstrous features of this bill should at once receive the attention of the ablest lawyers of the General Assembly, and steps should be taken to have it brought under the fire of the Supreme Court, where it will be thoroughly demolished.

(Column 05)
Summary: Ephraim Kerr died of pneumonia on February 9. He was 56 years old.
(Names in announcement: Ephraim Kerr)
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Summary: Jane Kerr died of dropsy on February 10. She was 66 years old.
(Names in announcement: Jane Kerr)
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Summary: James Alexander Kerr, son of Ephraim Kerr, died of pneumonia on February 11. He was four months old.
(Names in announcement: James Alexander Kerr, Ephraim Kerr)
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Summary: Elizabeth Plecker died at the residence of her son near Centreville, D. A. Plecker, on January 20. She was 76 years old.
(Names in announcement: D. A. Plecker, Elizabeth Plecker)
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Summary: George T. Jenkins died at the residence of Judge H. W. Sheffey on February 15. He was 26 years old.
(Names in announcement: Judge H. W. Sheffey, Geo. T. Jenkins)
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Summary: Lizzie Foster, the eldest daughter of William and Mary Foster, died on February 8 after an illness of four weeks.
(Names in announcement: Lizzie Foster, Wm. R. Foster, Mary C. Foster)

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