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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: December 14, 1869

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Admission of Virginia--Action of the Committee
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Summary: Described the actions of the Reconstruction Committee and the speeches and messages made before it. Criticized B. F. Butler for his refusal to admit Virginia, even though she had done everything required for readmission. Also, a vigorous debate ensued in the legislature over whether to accept immediate readmission to the Union or to wait for better conditions.
Full Text of Article:

Though the President, in his Message delivered to Congress on the 6th, stated that Virginia had done "all that was required by the resolution of Congress," in reference to the election submitting the Constitution, "and by all the reconstruction acts of Congress, had abstained from all doubtful authority," and thereupon "recommended that her Senators and Representatives be promptly admitted to their seats and the State be fully restored to its place in the family States;" and though, at noon on the 8th, in response to the address of Mr. Turner, the Chairman of the Committee appointed by the Legislature, the President said that he "did not doubt the speedy admission of the State," yet this Committee on holding an informal conference with Gen. B. F. Butler at his residence on the same evening (the 8th), and learning that he -- Butler -- desired additional guarantees, promptly assented, and added the following to their address to Congress:

"And the undersigned pledge themselves and those whom they represent that the Constitution of Virginia, voted for by the people on the 6th day of July, 1869, shall be faithfully carried out in letter and in spirit."

We do not purpose now to comment upon the action of this committee, presenting Virginia as a supplicant at the feet of B. F. Butler, "whom it were base flattery to call a villian," whose malignity is gratified by the humiliations and abasement of the "mother of States and of Statesmen" thus effected through his instrumentality, but merely to protest that that committee is not, and could not be invested with authority to restrict the future action of Virginia. Though such action on the part of that committee is wholly unauthorized, yet it may become the "direful spring of woes unnumbered."

Congress may incorporate such pledges as the committee may make into the act admitting the State as the conditions of admission, and may, at any future time, claim that the conditions have been violated and that the act of admission has been thereby abrogated.

Unless Virginia be admitted upon perfect equality with the other States of the Union, she should spurn admission -- however desirable admission upon terms of equality may be. -- When admitted, she will have the right to change her organic law and her statute laws to suit herself, if by such changes she does not violate the Constitution of the United States, for that instrument affirms that, "the powers not delegated by the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively and to the people." She will not only have the right to change them, but it will be her duty to do so whenever she believes they can be improved thereby.

On the morning of the 9th, three committees from the State appeared before the Reconstruction Committee, representing respectively the Legislature, the seceding wing of the Radical Convention, and the non-seceding wing, having as their chairmen, respectively, Turner, Platt, and Porter.

The committee representing the Legislature, presented their views in writing, briefly reciting what had been done in the State toward carrying out the Reconstruction acts and asserting that what had been done by the people of Virginia was in good faith and that the constitution, as far as adopted, shall be carried out to the very letter and spirit of its intent and law. This was briefly advocated by Turner and Crenshaw, of the House of delegates, and by Hine. Platt, republican member of Congress elect from the Second district, advocated the unconditional admission of Virginia, without applying the test oath to members of the Legislature. He was followed by Porter, republican member elect from the Third district, who opposed the immediate admission of the State; but in order to facilitate reconstruction advised that the test oath be administerd to members of the Legislature, excluding members who could not take it, and supplying their places with those who could from the next highest on the election returns. He also suggested, as another plan of reconstruction, the submission of the constitution, with the test oath and disfranchising clauses included. These views were opposed on the ground that a new election would be rendered necessary, as the application of that oath would reduce the number of members to less than a quorum and also involve the re-election of United States Senators.-- Bland, a colored member of the Legislature, made a speech in favor of immediate admission without the test oath. He made an emphatic address, declaring that the State had done everything she could do consistent with her honor to testify to the national government her obedience to its authority, and to the laws of Congress. He, therefore, protested against administering the test oath to her Legislature, and contended that the State was loyal to the core and fully entitled to every privilege and right accorded to the other loyal States. -- Governor Walker, who was present by request, addressed the Reconstruction Committee, and strongly endorsed the declaration of the legislative committee that the terms of the Constitution would be strictly adhered to, and spoke of the loyalty of the people as deserving of a prompt recognition by the immediate admission of the State into the Union.

The committees were requested to reduce their views to writing and present their papers to the Reconstruction Committee at the meeting Saturday morning.

At 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, the Reconstruction Committee met. The different delegations from this State were present. Platt presented a long address setting forth his views in favor of the admission of the State, and Porter presented one against it. Our readers, who voted for Segar for Congressman at large will be surprised to learn that he presented an address to the Reconstruction Committee opposing the admission of Virginia as at present constituted, and that Ex- Gov. Wells is in favor of the immediate admission of the State without any further conditions, and favors the passage by Congress, of an act of amnesty placing all citizens on the same footing as to voting, holding office, serving on juries, &c.

Congressman Ward, of the committee, expresses the opinion that the committee will report for the admission of the State on Tuesday -- today.

Disabilities Removed
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Summary: The Senate removed the political disabilities of the following Augusta citizens: Dr. Francis T. Stribling, Joseph N. Ryan, William A. Burnett, R. D. Hill, B. F. Fifer, Robert G. Bickle, and David C. McGuffin.
(Names in announcement: Dr. Francis T. Stribling, Joseph N. Ryan, William A. Burnett, R. D. Hill, B. F. Fifer, Robert G. Bickle, David C. McGuffin)
Warrenton Index
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Summary: The Rev. William T. Richardson of Waynesboro accepted a call to serve as pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Warrenton.
(Names in announcement: William T. Richardson)
[No Title]
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Summary: Maj. John A. Harman turned down an appointment to serve on the Central Executive Committee of the Republican Party.
(Names in announcement: Maj. John A. Harman)

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Free Pews
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Summary: The Presbyterian Church of Staunton decided that their pews shall be provided free of charge.
[No Title]
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Summary: The first grand ball of the season will take place in Odd Fellow's Hall on December 29th.
[No Title]
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Summary: Maggie Mitchell left her child in the hay-loft of Edward Burke's stable in Staunton. She told her mother that the Gipsies had stolen the child. The baby was found half-frozen.
(Names in announcement: Maggie Mitchell, Edward Burke)
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Summary: John D. Arbuckle of West Virginia and Miss M. Lizzie Vanlear, daughter of the late Rev. John A. Vanlear, were married near Mt. Solon on December 8th by the Rev. John Pinkerton.
(Names in announcement: John D. Arbuckle, M. Lizzie Vanlear, Rev. John A. Vanlear, Rev. John Pinkerton)
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Summary: Capt. Lafayette D. Matheney and Miss Martha C. Dmasters, both of Augusta, were married at Wintergreen, near Sherando, on December 9th by the Rev. John N. Lockridge.
(Names in announcement: Capt. Lafayette D. Matheney, Martha C. Dmasters, Rev. John N. Lockridge)
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Summary: John Wiseman, formerly of Augusta County, died in West Virginia on November 24th. He was 84 years old.
(Names in announcement: John Wiseman)
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Summary: Robert Whitlock died at his residence in Stribling Springs on November 26th. He was 53 years old. "And we may add, for the benefit of all who knew the deceased, that many years of his life were carefully employed in serving the Lord--consequently his last moments were tranquil and happy."
(Names in announcement: Robert Whitlock)

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