Staunton Spectator: February 2, 1869Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
Speech of Colonel Baldwin Before the Reconstruction Committee
(Column 06)Summary: An extract from the Dispatch, remarking on the comments of Mr. Baldwin before the Reconstruction Committee. Mr. Baldwin spoke on the desire of the people of Virginia to rejoin the Union on peaceful and conciliatory terms.
Full Text of Article:
[Extract from the Editorial Correspondence of the Dispatch.]
After giving Colonel Baldwin's explanation (made at the request of the Committee) touching the church property question, the writer reports his remarks in reply to Wells:
This argument was about as clear, frank and forcible as any I have ever heard. It was uttered in a manner that carried conviction of its sincerity and truth. Generally he asseverated the earnestness of the people of Virginia in their desire for restoration and peace. They were tired and sick of strife, and the delay in the restoration of order and harmony was disastrous to their interests and those of the nation. He pronounced a eulogy upon the fairness and justice of the courts of Virginia and the purity of her judiciary, and declared that nowhere on earth was justice administered with more impartiality and integrity. Contending that this was a sufficient guarantee of the fair and just disposition of the public mind, he declared his solemn conviction that there was no disposition in Virginia to harm or injure any one through denial of justice under the law, and he believed that if Virginia were restored according to the plan of the committee no mortal being would suffer from such a thing as partiality and malice in the administration of law.
Virginia had (immediately after the war) through her Legislature accommodated herself to the new order of things produced by the war, and had voluntarily accorded to the negro his rights as they were accorded by the State Constitution of Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and other Northern States; and if there had ever been an attempt to impair the rights of the negro he had never heard of it. -- He begged that if anybody thought differently with regard to what he had stated they would say so. He felt that what he said could not be contradicted, and would not.
Virginia having had no voice in national affairs, was not divided by national parties. True, her people had had their opinions, and had sympathized with those who had offered them the most liberal terms of readmission into the Union. Therefore they had desired the success of the Democrats in the recent election; but when that party was defeated they considered the question settled, and now were anxious for restoration, submitting to the national judgment, which they could not evade. True, they had opposed negro suffrage -- a thing not considered probable at the expiration of the war in any quarter -- and they even now stated frankly that they did not consider the negro qualified for voting, ignorant and just out of slavery, as he was. To the people of the North, where the negro stood as one in twenty thousand, negro suffrage was a matter of no consequence, but in Virginia we had 400,000 negroes. To admit so many uneducated whites suddenly into the constituent body might justly be considered perilous to the State. The experiment would not give rise to less apprehension because it was made with blacks.
But notwithstanding all this, they were unwilling to continue a contest on a settled question, and regarding it so, were anxious to return to the Union and to see and end of strife and bitterness. They were earnest, and would act in entire frankness and good faith.
Mr. Baldwin, in much that he had to say which was in direct opposition to what Governor Wells said yesterday, alluded to the statements of that gentleman in very plain terms. -- He showed them to be not only unjust, but at variance with the wishes and sentiments of some of the more reliable and influential of his own party. Alluding to Governor Wells accusations touching the disposition of the people towards Northern men, Mr. Baldwin stated that there were two kinds of immigrants into Virginia -- the immigrant proper and the "carpet-bagger," whose motives and conduct had affixed that name to him everywhere. The former the people respected; the latter they execrated. There was, just after the war, a large number of deserters from the Confederate army, and degraded men, who came forth from their hiding places, and a large number of camp followers and others, the debris of the Federal army, who were thrown in the convulsion upon the South; and no country was cursed with so ravenous and unscrupulous a set of men. These had rapaciously seized upon the offices of the South, brutally driving out gray-haired and dependent occupants. These persons were regarded with detestation. But the sincere and honest immigrant was held in respect and confidence. -- All who thus came to live with us and cast their lot with ours were heartily welcomed. They would be ever received with open arms, and would always be respected and valued as useful members of society. The carpet-baggers could never be regarded except with contempt in Virginia. Hurt him we would not, in his person or in his rights. He could be safer in these nowhere else. But we claimed the right which belonged to the meanest creature on earth -- to withhold from him our respect.
Mr. Baldwin called the attention of the committee to the patent triple-acting, self-feeding machinery explained yesterday by Governor Wells. It consisted of a committee to three in each county. (Mr. Baldwin wondered that it was not four, as there were four principal offices in each county.) This committee was to receive the application of every man in the county who wanted to have his disabilities removed, and pass upon it; but no man holding an office could have his application considered. He must disgorge -- resign; that was a sine qua non. The office was wanted. Now, after receiving and passing upon an application, it was sent to the Central Committee, and if it was fortunate enough to get through there, it had finally to receive the endorsement of General Wells himself before it was forwarded, duly recommended to Congress; and that body had been informed that it would be highly imprudent for it to relieve any one from disabilities who had not run the gauntlet of these committees and obtained the final approval of Governor Wells. He would make no comment on such extraordinary machinery as this. He left it to the judgment of the committee.
Mr. Baldwin was interrogated briefly only by Mr. Boutwell, who stated that the Government felt obliged to Union men in the South, and would not be willing to place them in a position of danger. They must be protected. He saw the difficult of exacting any guarantee of the people of Virginia with this view, or rather, he saw the difficulty of giving guarantee; but he desired Mr. Baldwin to state what he could say on the point.
Mr. B. replied in substance, with an earnestness and fervor that must have impressed even Mr. Boutwell, that he believed the people of Virginia were incapable of partiality or cruelty in the administration of justice, and that those called "loyal" or Union men would be safe in Virginia as they could be anywhere on earth. He believed that a large majority of the people of Virginia sustained the movement attempted to be carried out by this committee, and speaking upon his honor as a Virginian, and a gentleman, he believed they were acting in good faith, without qualification or reservations and would carry out the laws in all fairness and quality to all men and classes. Their past conduct, their patience, and respect for law that had maintained the most perfect order in the recent period of agitation and irritation were, he thought, the evidence that they were to be fully trusted.
The Underwood Constitution and the Test Oath
(Column 01)Summary: Based on the account in the Journal of the Convention, the Conservatives voted unanimously to defeat the provision on the Test Oath, and were unable to reject or modify it. This contradicts a report of the Richmond State Journal, which claimed the Conservatives had every opportunity to defeat the Test Oath provision.
Full Text of Article:
The Washington correspondent of the Richmond State Journal (Radical) states that the Conservative members of the Convention which framed the Underwood Constitution, had it in their power to defeat the test oath so much objected to, but would not do it because, by retaining it, the Constitution would be made so odious as to make its rejection by the people certain. "This statement," he says, "was made before the Reconstruction Committee by Governor Wells, and evidently made a deep impression. And the impression will not soon wear off."
The Journal of the Convention tells a very different tale. When the section of the Constitution requiring all office-holders to take the test oath was adopted, every Conservative member of the Convention voted against it, and it was carried, against their votes and earnest wishes, by the Radical majority. And there was no time, then nor afterwards, that they "had it in their power to defeat the test oath." Towards the close of the session it was rumored that Mr. Thomas, of Henry county, a leading Radical, intended to propose some modification of the oath. As we happen to know, the matter was a subject of frequent conversation amongst the Conservative members. They unanimously and anxiously desired to have the test oath stricken out of the Constitution, but it was understood that Mr. Thomas did not propose to do that, but only to modify it in some way not now recollected. A few of the Conservatives took the ground that, while they would gladly vote to strike out the oath, they would not vote for a modification of the section merely exempting the inferior and less important office-holders from the necessity of taking the oath, but still requiring it of Governor, Judges, members of the Legislature & c. They argued that such a proposition was insulting to the great body of our people, and was only intended as a bribe to the multitude of aspirants to petty offices to vote for the Constitution. -- Most of the Conservatives, however, determined to vote for whatever amelioration should be proposed.
In pursuance of his plan, Mr. Thomas, on the 16th of April, "moved that the rules be suspended, for the purpose of modifying the oath of office." (See Journal, p. 379)
The chair decided that it required a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules, and the Convention sustained the decision. This decision seems to have been perfectly correct, although most of the Conservatives voted against it. -- The question then recurred upon the motion made by Mr. Thomas, and it was rejected for the want of a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. Five Conservatives voted against the proposition, but if all of them had voted for it, there would still have been less than the two-thirds necessary to carry it.
Mr. Platt next moved that the rules be suspended "for the purpose of modifying the oath in regard to county offices." Eight Conservatives voted against this proposition, but if all had voted for it, it would still have failed.
On the same day Mr. Williams moved that the rules be suspended "for the purpose of offering a resolution to strike out the sixth section," which prescribes one of the oaths of office. The chair ruled the motion out of order, and was sustained by the majority; every Conservative voting for the proposition.
It thus appears that the Conservative members of the Convention unanimously opposed the test oath when it was inserted in the Constitution, that they unanimously voted to strike it out, and that if all of them had voted for it they could not have obtained even a modification of the oath.
(Column 01)Summary: Mayor N. K. Trout petitioned Congress for removal of his political disabilities.[No Title]
(Names in announcement: N. K. Trout)
(Column 01)Summary: Doctors J. Alex Waddell and A. M. Fauntleroy have formed a partnership to practice Medicine and Surgery.[No Title]
(Names in announcement: Dr. J. Alex Waddell, A. M. Fauntleroy)
(Column 01)Summary: The protracted meeting in the Rev. George B. Taylor's Baptist Church began on Sunday and has been continuing all week. The Rev. Cornelius Tyree has preached every day. Eight or ten penitents are participating.Musical
(Names in announcement: Rev. George B. Taylor, Rev. Cornelius Tyree)
(Column 01)Summary: The Staunton Musical Association will hold a soiree at Odd Fellow's Hall. There will be all manner of vocals as well as overtures, waltzes, quadrilles, mazurkas, and marches. Admission is 25 cents.Married
(Column 05)Summary: Capt. D. H. Spradlin of the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road and Miss Mollie E. Arginbright, daughter of Jacob Arginbright of Augusta, were married on January 19th at the residence of the bride's father by the Rev. J. H. Hott.Married
(Names in announcement: Capt. D. H. Spradlin, Mollie E. Arginbright, Jacob Arginbright, Rev. J. H. Hott)
(Column 05)Summary: H. H. George and Miss Nannie E. Alexander, daughter of James Alexander, editor of the Charlottesville Jeffersonian, were married in the Baptist Church of Charlottesville on January 26th.Married
(Names in announcement: H. H. George, Nannie E. Alexander, James Alexander)
(Column 05)Summary: John Moore Lambert and Miss Maggie A. Gardner, both of Augusta, were married near Mint Spring at the home of the bride's father on January 27th by the Rev. James Murray.Married
(Names in announcement: John Moore Lambert, Maggie A. Gardner, James Rev. Murray)
(Column 05)Summary: John H. Sheets and Miss Sarah E. Eustler, both of Augusta, were married on January 21st by the Rev. John L. Clarke.Deaths
(Names in announcement: John H. Sheets, Sarah E. Eustler, Rev. John L. Clarke)
(Column 05)Summary: Mrs. Mary Brooke Bowcock, wife of J. O. Bowcock of Albemarle, died at the residence of Col. James Cochran near Mint Spring on January 26th. She was 26 years old.Deaths
(Names in announcement: Mary Brooke Bowcock, J. O. Bowcock, Col. James Cochran)
(Column 05)Summary: Miss Kate Martin, a pupil at the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institution, and daughter of E. S. Martin of Lee County, died at the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institution on January 25th. She was 16 years old.
(Names in announcement: Kate Martin, E. S. Martin)