The Political History of Virginia during the Reconstruction/5

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CHAPTER V.


THE STATE CAMPAIGN OF 1867.

The Freedmen's Bureau had prepared the freedmen for independent political action, when, in March, 1867, the acts of Congress conferred upon them the privilege of suffrage. Even before the bureau had well advanced in its activities, the negroes of the northern counties, excited by contact with Republican settlers, organized the first political movement of their race in Virginia. A convention assembled at Alexandria on August 2, 1865, with fifty delegates present from various counties, and adopted resolutions appealing for the extension of suffrage to the colored race.1 This movement, however, proved abortive. But it was significant of the growing radical spirit. The Republicans of Virginia had come, as we have seen, to favor negro suffrage by the summer of 1865. After the Philadelphia radical convention of 1866, they abandoned all idea of restricting the franchise by property or educational qualifications or military service; and unitedly advocated "manhood suffrage" for the colored race. Congress, by the reconstruction acts of March, 1867, granted the blacks the privilege of voting for members of the constitutional convention of the Southern States.

Immediately, migrating politicians from the North and the Virginia Republicans began to organize the negroes by means of the secret society known as the Union League. The Freedmen's Bureau had made the colored race independent of the whites; the Union League now thoroughly drilled it in practical politics and so prepared for a Republican victory at the polls. The firm establishment of negro suffrage


[1] Alexandria Gazette, August 3, 1865, and Fredericksburg New Era, August 18, 1865.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.65

in Virginia was the leading feature of the radical policy. Other benefits for the freedmen were also desired. Some extremists advocated confiscation of Confederate property in favor of the negroes. The majority of Republicans, indeed, did not favor such a severe measure, but the blacks, ignorant and naturally desirous of bettering their condition, seized upon the idea with great avidity. It soon became the dream of the freedmen to own their farms instead of working for wages. They believed that the Federal government intended to divide lands among them, to give each head of a family "forty acres and a mule."2The freedmen were partly justified in this hope by the attitude of the extreme radical wing of the Republican party under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, and by the consequent talk of the soldiers, bureau agents and others.3 The rumor of an intended distribution of land by governmental agency had grown widespread and produced further disturbances in the labor system, for the negroes in many cases refused to sign contracts, hoping to possess lands which they might work themselves. 4 But it became evident in 1867 that Congress would not follow Stevens in his prescriptive policy, and the Republican leaders in Virginia discouraged the hopes of the blacks as to confiscation. Yet the latter did not abandon them for a considerable length of time. The radical policy comprehended a constitutional assurance of colored suffrage, the opening of public offices to negroes, and, in general, the gain of political and civil equality for the freedmen. So eager were the blacks to vote that three days after the passage of the reconstruction act of March 2 they attempted to participate in a municipal election at Alexandria.5 For the first time, negro suffrage became an


[2] This familiar phrase probably originated in a speech of Thaddeus Stevens delivered at Lancaster in September, 1865. Lalor's Cyclopaedia of Political Science, etc., Ill, 544.

[3] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1865, p. 375.
[4] Alexandria Gazette, October 4, 1865.
[5] Richmond Enquirer, March 8, 1867, and Alexandria Gazette, March 6, 1867.

p.66 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

immediate and practical question. Governor Pierpont asserted that the colored men were undoubtedly entitled to vote under the terms of the reconstruction act. Mayor Latham and Judge Moore consulted President Johnson and the United States Attorney-General upon the right of freedmen to participate in the election, but received no definite answer.6In this uncertain state of affairs the commissioners of elections decided to refuse negro voters. When the polls were opened the blacks came forward to present their votes, which were declined by the commissioners but recorded by a committee appointed for that purpose in the radical interest. About 1,400 votes were cast by the negroes; more than 1,000 by the conservatives, and only 72 by the white radicals.7This election occasioned considerable hostile comment in the North. Senator Wilson proposed in Congress that it should be annulled, because the votes of the negroes had been refused. The occurrence of similar incidents was prevented by an order from General Schofield, prohibiting all local elections while registration was in progress.8

Immediately after the publication of the act of March 23, 1867, arrangements were made for registration under that law, and a board was appointed by General Schofield to select suitable persons as officers of registration.9In making these selections preference was given to officers of the army and of the Freedmen's Bureau; secondly, soldiers honorably discharged were chosen, and lastly, Union citizens. On April 2, 1867, an order was issued by Schofield suspending all elections under the provisional government until the registration should be completed. Vacancies which might occur were to be filled by temporary appointments of the commanding general.10


[6 ] Richmond Enquirer, March 8, 1867.
[7 ] New York Tribune, March 8, 1867.
[8] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 758. Order of April 2, 1867. Ex. Docs., 2nd session, 40th Congress, No. 342.
[9] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 758.
[10] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 758, and Ex. Docs., 2nd session, 4Oth Congress, No. 342.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.67

The summer of 1867 was a very busy one in Virginia politics. The organization of the radical party went stead- ily on throughout the State. No better method than the Union League could have been chosen for uniting the negro race with the Republican party, for through the secret so- ciety the radical propaganda might be carried on, largely without fear of interruption on the part of the native whites. In these clubs the raw masses of freedmen were politically instructed and transformed into a powerful ma- chine; few of them were able to withstand the pressure brought to bear and remain without the fold.11Naturally the Union Leagues,12as they were called,13soon became a subject of bitter and repeated attacks from the conservative press.

But protest and abuse were quite fruitless, and the radical agitators penetrated to every county of the State, addressing the freedmen and inspiring them with alluring hopes." The most prominent politician of this time was James W. Hunnicutt. He was a clergyman, a native of South Carolina, but had lived for many years in Fredericksburg, where he published a religious newspaper. Hunnicutt had been a slave-holder and voted for the ordinance of secession, although by his own statement, unwillingly. Later he became a Union man and in the beginning of the reconstruction went actively into politics as an advanced radical. His utterances were sometimes violent and even dangerous. Both as a speaker and as editor of the leading Republican journal in Virginia, the Richmond New Nation, he exerted a very great influence over the freedmen. In the Philadelphia convention Hunnicutt had withstood the more conservative views of John Minor Botts upon negro suffrage. He now became the chief leader in the radical ranks.15


[11] Enquirer, September 5, 1867.
[12] Enquirer, September 6, 1867.
[13] They were known as "Loyal Legions" and by several other names, but "Union League" was the one most used.
[14] Enquirer, June 13, 1867, and September 6, 1867. Fredericksburg News, September 18, 1867.
[15] New York Tribune, April 12, 1867, and Enquirer, April 20, 1867.

p.68 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

The Republican State Central Committee, composed of Lysander Hall, John Hawxhurst, Burnham Wardwell, W. R. Smith, James H. Clements and Lewis McKenzie, issued, on March 20, 1867, an invitation for a State convention. This convention assembled at Richmond on April 17, 1867.16Two hundred and ten delegates were present, of whom 160 were negroes. Forty-nine counties were represented. The convention was entirely under the influence of Hunnicutt and his supporters and was accordingly radical. The freedmen took a very prominent part in the proceedings and made many of the speeches, which were sometimes inflammatory. Confiscation was demanded by the negroes, almost to a man;17they went much farther than their white leaders in urging and approving this measure. The committee on resolutions provided the following series : First, Congress was thanked for the reconstruction act, the beneficial effects of which were felt in the increased security of "loyal" men. Secondly, the principles of the Republican party were adopted as a platform, and the cooperation of all the classes, without distinction of race or color, was invited. The third resolution proclaimed equal protection to all men before the courts and equal political rights, including the right to hold office; free schools for all classes, and a free and equal participation therein; a more equitable system of taxation, which should be apportioned on property only; and a modification of the usury laws, to induce capital to flow into the State. The fourth resolution declared that all men are free, equal, etc., and pledged the party to a strict adherence to these sentiments. Fifth, the party was bound to support no man for office who did not openly identify himself with it and support its principles. The sixth resolution recognized the interests of all the laboring classes of the State as identical, and denied the wish to deprive any white laborer of his privileges.18


[16] Enquirer and Whig, April 18, 1867.
[17] New York Tribune, May 17, 1867.
[18] Richmond Enquirer, April 19, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.69

Hunnicutt's first attempt at party direction had proven a success. He controlled the workings of the April convention. The greater part of the negroes were completely under his influence. But there remained a considerable element of opposition within the Republican ranks, composed of men of less extreme views and led by John Minor Botts. He had been beaten by Hunnicutt in the contest for leadership, but he still hoped to be able to found a party that might obtain the support of both white and black, a party that would secure the rights of colored men, but which would not be dominated by the political and social ideals of radicalism. Unquestionably such a party would have been acceptable to many intelligent people in the North, who viewed with disfavor the clamors of turbulent negro factions under the control of agitators.19Some of the leading Northern newspapers commented severely upon the extravagance of the radical propaganda in Virginia. The New York Tribune advised the negroes to follow Botts rather than Hunnicutt. But the former had lost his prestige for the moment and Hunnicutt held the reins of power.

At this time there were two efforts made to form the Republican party in Virginia upon different lines from those advocated by Hunnicutt.20One of these movements was within the State; the other originated in Washington. It was clearly seen in the capital that the extreme measures of the Hunnicutt faction would necessarily tend to drive the white people into an antagonistic party to the lasting disadvantage of Republicanism. Accordingly an attempt was made to supersede Hunnicutt as a leader and to build up a party of more moderate views, of white as well as of

[19] New York Tribune, April 12, 1867 : "To organize a campaign on the Hunnicutt plan is to abandon any hope of a permanent Union party in the South. We cannot afford to array the white against the black or the black against the white."

New York Times : " He (Hunnicutt) and such as he are unceasing in their endeavors to organize the blacks as a party that shall hereafter control Southern affairs and with this view they teach the superiority of the negroes as a race over the white."

[20] Enquirer, May I and May 7, 1867. Whig, May I, 1867.


p.70 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

black supporters. Senator Wilson of Massachusetts came to Virginia, to lend his influence to the furthering of this plan. He made speeches in a number of towns, appealing to the blacks and also seeking to gain the adherence of white votes.21

Senator Wilson's mission, although it failed to draw the freedmen from their radical leaders, had an effect upon the political situation.22It somewhat strengthened a second effort to form a Republican party which was already under consideration among a part of the Virginia people opposed to Hunnicutt. They thought that Virginia could never regain her rights of Statehood unless under the Republican party, and that the best way of attaining the desired consummation lay through the frank acceptance of negro suffrage and the other demands of the North. Consequently a party should be organized for the purpose of conciliating the Congressional majority and thereby winning restoration. The Richmond Whig became the leading organ of the new movement, partly perhaps from its traditional hostility to the Democratic party. The key-note of the Whig's advocacy was the uselessness of resistance, the necessity of submission.23The Whig advised the Virginians to unite in


[21]New York Tribune, April 25, 1867. Enquirer, April 23, 1867.

In Richmond he said that " He wanted the colored men who had been elevated from chattelhood to manhood. . . . He wanted the men who had been reluctantly dragged into the rebellion, who were impoverished by it, but who had no sympathy with it and the men who were deluded into secession but who had abandoned, amid the fire, blood, and desolation of war, that wicked heresy and who honestly complied with the demands of the country he wanted all these classes to unitedly stand together on the national platform of the Union Republican party. ... He appealed to the old Whigs of Virginia ... to seize the occasion, unite their fortunes with the Union Republican party of the country and put down the secessionists."

[22] The Enquirer, April 20, 1867.

[23] Whig, April 5, 1867. " It is known," it said, " that the respectable Union men are bitterly opposed to Hunnicuttism in all its phases, and will not cooperate with the faction that is swayed by it. ... What we all have to do is to save Virginia her character and her fortunes. Unless we do so she will fall a prey to creatures more foul than the obscene birds of mythology. There are three classes that must unite to do so. ... These three classes we have already in-


The State Campaign of 1867. p.71

such a party and not to attempt any alliance with the Democratic party of the North, which, it declared, was utterly unable to benefit the South.24An especial appeal was made to the old-time Whigs, to assist in this effort for the restoration of the State.

A meeting in the interest of the new movement was held in Petersburg at the last of April. The Republican party, as it then existed in the State, had no share in the conference. An organization was not attempted, but a platform was adopted which was intended to be conciliatory to the North.25

The Petersburg platform, however, was the expression of only a few and attracted few supporters. It was too radical for the majority of the Virginia people and was condemned by the press.26The Whig still continued to urge the necessity of holding public meetings all over the State for the purpose of ratifying the following resolutions : " (1) We yield an unreserved submission to the requirements of dicated the better class of Union men like Governor Pierpont, Mr. Stearns . . . those who upheld the Southern cause, and the better class of colored population."



[24] Whig, April 22, 1867: "This party (Republican) can, for it has the power, give us self-government and admit us into the Union, and as we have said, it is under a pledge to do so. ... The Democratic party would, we believe, do the same, if it had the power, but it has not. As our object is restoration, we propose to pursue that policy which will most effectually accomplish it, without regard to party antecedents or political creeds. We shall feel in doing this that we are best serving Virginia."

[25] Richmond Whig, May I, 1867. It resolved " (1) That we agree to accept and perform in good faith the terms and conditions prescribed by the Congress of the United States as the terms and conditons upon which Congress has agreed to restore Virginia to her place in the Union. (2) That we recognize and accept as an essential part of said terms and conditions the proposition that the political power of the State, which has heretofore been wielded by white men alone, shall henceforth be possessed and exercised by white and black alike. (3) That we will therefore insist that a new constitution shall be framed for Virginia which shall provide that all men, white or black, without reference to previous condition of servitude, shall be perfectly equal before the laws, both in respect to political privileges and power and of civil rights; and that all laws creating distinctions or differences of any sort between persons of different races shall be unconstitutional, null and void."

[26] New York Tribune, May 17, 1867.

p.72 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

Congress. (2) We adopt the assurance and pledges of the Petersburg platform. (3) We will support Unionists for office like Governor Pierpont and Mr. Stearns." But the pleading of the Whig was without effect and the attempt to form a white conservative Republican party failed entirely. For a moment the movement seemed to die out; evidently without the cooperation of the other Republican elements in the State, it would be fruitless.

Meanwhile the radical propaganda was being actively carried on and the temper of the freedmen had grown more aggressive. In the latter part of April there were disturbances occasioned by the attempts of the negroes to ride in street cars with the whites. In the end they gained the right. On May 11, Zedekiah Hayward, an agitator, was arrested, charged with inciting the negroes "to acts of violence, insurrection and war."27 He had urged the blacks to assert their right to ride in street cars, to sit in churches and theaters, to attend any schools and to enjoy any rights which the white people of Massachusetts possessed. Riots broke out in Richmond, on May 11-12, 1867, in which the freedmen seem to have been the aggressors; it was necessary to employ troops to restore order.28

Opposition still existed in the Republican party to the extreme views of James Hunnicutt and his followers. Botts had been disconcerted by his success in drawing the negroes over to the extreme radical position, but he had never abandoned the hope of building up a party under his own control. The supporters of the Petersburg platform accepted his leadership, as it was evident that they could form no organization of their own, and once more gave him a following. Botts had never considered the work of the April convention to be legitimate. He and his followers, among whom were Governor Pierpont and L. H. Chandler, objected to the authority by which it had been called. They complained that it represented comparatively few counties


[27] New York Tribune, May 20, 1867. Richmond Enquirer, April 27, 1867, and May 13, 1867.
[28] Enquirer, May 13, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.73

and was composed largely of negroes, " and they declared that the Union citizens of Virginia would not come into a party imperfectly organized and exclusively led." !

Accordingly a call was issued for a new convention, to be held at Charlottesville on July 4, for the purpose of organizing the Republican party in the State.30It was signed by more than 300 men, some of whom were Virginians of property and rank, mostly former Whigs. That branch of the party led by Hunnicutt and the platform of the April convention were completely ignored.

The situation threatened a break in the Republican ranks into conservative and radical factions. The reconstruction committee now interfered to preserve peace. It gave over to the Union League Clubs of New York, Philadelphia and Boston the task of composing a quarrel " that threatened to disturb the harmony and unity of the party, not only in Virginia but throughout the South." The differing State leaders and the Northern mediators came together in Richmond, at the governor's house, on June 16, 1867. Some fifty men were present, among them Governor Pierpont, Judge Underwood, Senator Wilson, John Jay of New York, General Strong, John M. Botts, J. W. Hunnicutt, John Hawxhurst, L. H. Chandler and other prominent politicians.31Speeches were made by the leaders on both sides. Hunnicutt and the other radicals defended the validity of the April convention and refused to take any part in the proposed Charlottesville conference.32It was finally decided to abandon the Charlottesville meeting, and to hold another State convention at Richmond on August 1, for the purpose of drawing up a party platform. Botts was forced to accept the compromise. The result of the meeting was decidedly in Hunnicutt's favor.33It appeared evident from the action of their leaders that the mass of freedmen still remained under his influence; and while the question


[29] New York Tribune, June 15, 1867.
[30] Enquirer, May 21, 1867.
[31] New York Tribune, June 15, 1867.
[32] Enquirer, June 19, 1867.
[33] New York Herald, June 17, 1867.

p.74 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

of party organization remained open, the new convention was to be held in Richmond, the center of radical influence.34

But Mr. Botts still had hopes of winning the Republican leadership and of bringing the black men to a more moderate position, which would enable the native whites to join with them in a party.35Indeed, the political advent of the negro was too recent for his ideas to have become crystalized, and the antagonism of the races had not reached its later pitch of hatred. Therefore the advocates of conservative Republicanism made considerable progress through the months of June and July, 1867. Many men were anxious to end the reconstruction and felt that it was useless to oppose negro suffrage. They were so desirous of a speedy reconciliation that they were willing to make compromises to gain that end. The hopeless struggle against fate had better be abandoned. "What is the Republican party?" asked the Richmond Whig. "It represents and wields the whole power of the government. It is to all intents and purposes the government. To oppose it is to oppose the government."36

The movement for coalition between the native white people and the blacks suddenly came into prominence in July. It was chiefly the result of the efforts of the Rich- mond Whig and was noteworthy for the men who sup- ported it; they were former Confederates and many of them exerted a local influence.37 A large number of the citizens of Albemarle county met at Charlottesville on July 1st, to consider the question of "cooperation." Thomas Wood was elected chairman and Captain John L. Cockran, secretary. The committee on resolutions consisted of Colonel John J. Bocock, Wm. T. Early, William Brand, W. F. Gordon, R. G. Crank, W. H. Southall, John Wood, Jr., W. E. Garth, G. B. Brown, J. W. Mason, J. R. Barksdale, John H. Bibb, Colonel R. T. W. Duke, Dr. J. R. Baylor, J. S.


[34] Enquirer, June 19, 1867. [35] New York Herald. [36] Whig, June 6, 1867, again June 25, 1867, and June 24. [37] Whig, June 2, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.75

Coles, A. J. Farish, Edmond Coles, Dr. A. G. Dulaney, B. R. Eddins, J. H. Simms, Colonel R. W. Wyatt, Dr. J. W. Michie, J. W. Chewning, Dr. W. C. N. Randolph.38

The chairman explained that it was the object of the meeting to determine the wisest course to take to secure the speedy reconstruction of the State upon the best possible terms. The resolutions declared "That having consented in good faith to the reconstruction of the Southern States under the Sherman-Shellabarger bill, we consider ourselves as bound in honor to the unconditional maintenance of the Union of these States, and that we regard the welfare of Virginia and of the other Southern States as requiring that our people should cooperate with the party that will give us protection for life and property, and believing that the Republican party of the United States alone has the power to give us protection, we desire to cooperate with them.39 Forty-six delegates, most of whom were the aforementioned members of the committee on resolutions, were appointed to represent the "cooperators " in the August convention of the Republican party.

This was the fairest offer that party had ever received in Virginia. For these men exerted a social influence which had been hitherto lacking in it. The movement threatened a breach in the unity of the white race. The "cooperation " convention at Charlottesville was followed by others in Louisa,40Charlotte,41Amelia, Pittsylvania,42Smythe, Halifax, 43 Buckingham,44Rappahannock, Prince Edward and perhaps in other counties. In Charlotte, W. T. Scott, Dr. P. H. Flourney, William Cardwell, J. N. Edmunds, Dr. J. D. Spraggins, Colonel H. A. Carrington, Glasgow McGraw, Silas Mack, W. H. Smith, J. H. Holmes, Miller Davenport and Edward Nelson were elected as delegates; in Halifax, Hon. T. S. Flournoy, T. S. Green, J. B. Stovall,


[38] Whig, July 3, 1867.
[39] Enquirer, July 2; Whig, July 2.
[40] Whig, July 9, 1867.
[41] Whig, July 23, 1867.
[42] Whig, July 25, 1867.
[43] Whig, August 1, 1867.
[44] Enquirer, July 6, 1867.

p.76 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

M. P. Ensey, M. L. Booth, A. L. Meeks, together with several negroes.

By the end of July the cooperation movement had grown into considerable prominence. It was upheld by moderate men, who were prepared to abandon the Confederate tradition for the sake of Virginia's interests. The "cooperators" accepted negro suffrage because it was a fact. They wished to draw the freedmen to their support45 and to lead them in a party, which should advocate in a general and conservative way the measures of reconstruction. Naturally the leaders would have been white men. The negroes were not offered confiscation, social equality, high office and other inducements. Their place, most likely, in such a party would have been a lowly one and their direct power small. But, on the other hand, their right to vote would have probably been established.

But the negroes were in no mood to play a subordinate part. The age was full of dream's; they were beginning to believe that boundless opportunities of advancement opened before them; and men who held the present hope of race equality would not rest satisfied with the advantages already gained. One of the most prominent negro politicians, Lewis Lindsay, in a characteristic and bitter speech at Charlottesville on July 2, announced the desires of the black men. He demanded a fair division of all offices. He claimed the right to social equality, and stated that the negroes intended to elect the governor, the members of Congress and a portion of the legislature. Wherever twelve men were appointed for any purpose, six of them must be black.46

Not only was the cooperation movement too conservative for the negroes; it could not have been otherwise than fatal to the influence of Hunnicutt and his fellow radicals. For their power lay in the impossible hopes with which they inspired the freedmen; no place would be open for them in a


[45] Whig, July 5, 1867.
[46 Charlottesville Chronicle, July 2, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.77

party led by moderate men of conservative aims. Consequently radicals, white and black, did not favor cooperation.47With Hunnicutt in this position, it was likely that the coming convention would be a final trial of strength between him and Botts for the control of the colored race; and the event would probably have a decisive effect upon party positions in the State.

On July 31, the day preceding the meeting of the Republican convention, Botts held a caucus of the conservative members, submitting a platform for their approval. It declared that secession was treason and that treason was crime, advocated free speech without license, and the payment of the public debt, except the Confederate. It also called for the enfranchisement of all concerned in the Confederacy but the leaders. The latter should be punished.48

The convention met at Richmond on August 1, 1867. The freedmen were alive with eagerness. They assembled at the African church, where the convention was to sit, as early as seven o'clock in the morning, and when the doors were opened at eleven, poured in and took complete possession. Two thousand negroes were left outside the church, together with Mr. Botts and the "cooperator " delegates, who had come to take part in the proceedings. No attempt was made by the radical leaders to reduce the mob to order. Many of the country negro delegates were also excluded. It was proposed to hold a meeting in the Capitol Square and the crowd outside went off there. Mr. Hunnicutt addressed the "mass convention" within the church, which consisted entirely of negroes except the fifty white delegates to the April convention. He said that all that was necessary for the present convention to do was to endorse the April platform. If any man did not feel disposed to vote for that declaration, he might go home and take care of his family. Those who supported the April platform should do the work of the August convention.49


[47] New Nation, July 4, 1867 quoted by the Enquirer of July 6, 1867.
[48] Fredericksburg News. August 2, 1867.
[49] Enquirer, August 2, 1867.

p.78 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

Meanwhile the crowd, which had been unable to gain admission to the church, assembled in the Capitol Square. John Hawxhurst was elected chairman. "Amid much confusion, the white cooperators, who had been excluded from the African church and kept out in the blazing sun while the darkies were inside, were again pressed to the outskirts of the meeting like the white fringe on the edge of a black blanket."50A proposition to invite Botts to speak was solidly voted down, and the platform of the April convention adopted.

The next day the convention met with reduced members. A colored delegate, Dr. Bayne, moved for an immediate adjournment, although Hunnicutt was in favor of a longer session. He wished the convention, he said, "to wind up like a Georgia camp-meeting--with a general jollification." He then defined his position. He favored the disfranchisement of all rebels; they should be excluded from suffrage until they were willing to work in any gear that might be put upon them. Notwithstanding Hunnicutt's proposal, the negroes voted for an immediate adjournment.51In this and in all other radical conventions throughout the reconstruction, it was very difficult to keep the blacks in order; at times they could not be controlled even by their most popular leaders.

This convention marks an era in the development of politics in the State of Virginia. The negroes finally decided against all conservative control and willfully rebuffed the Virginians who wished to act with them. It was unfortunate, but natural for them in their ignorance, that they should accept the alluring promises of the agitators rather than the smaller assurances of the "cooperators." So they cast in their lot with the radicals in the hope of gaining equality. The cooperation movement came to an abrupt end. The cooperators were disgusted with the


[50] Fredericksburg News, August 2, 1867.
[51] Richmond Enquirer, August 3, 1867, and Dispatch of the same date.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.79

insulting treatment they had received52and the greater part of them returned to the conservative ranks. A few joined the Republican party, radical as its policy had become; among these was Judge Alexander Rives of Albemarle county. John Minor Botts also accepted the radical position and adhered to it through the short remainder of his political career.53

The tumultuous and confused August convention gave the conservative press a fair opportunity for renewed assaults upon the radicals and the negroes.54The conduct of the latter had been narrowly watched. They had ill acquitted themselves in their new dignity;55and the criticism was bitter.56 But whatever effect it had upon the white people, the convention greatly increased the independence of the freedmen. Some of the Union Leagues even refused to admit whites as members.57 In some places armed negro organizations were formed, 58to the fear of the people, and exaggeration increased the fear. Talk and expectation ran high.59The campaign was very vigorously conducted by the radical party and its orators succeeded in rousing the negroes so thoroughly that almost their entire strength was


[52] Enquirer, August 29, 1867.
[53] Enquirer, February 28, 1868.

[54] Enquirer, August 3, 1867: "The disgusting and loathsome exhibition of the past week demonstrates to the plainest intellect that the fate of Hayti awaits Virginia if, through apathy and indifference, the Caucasian majority in this State permit the African minority to obtain the control of the government. Completely demoralized and corrupted by the infamous renegades who have affiliated with them, a large portion of the negroes are now inaccessible to reason. If there were not, fortunately, in Virginia a large majority of white men, to whose instincts of race and interests we may be permitted to look hopefully, our prospects would be no better than those of Hayti when French radicalism kindled in that unhappy land the fires of servile insurrection. . . . The recent hideous radical carnival in this city, like a fire-bell at midnight, should arouse every honest white man in Virginia to a sense of danger."

[55] Richmond Whig, August 3, 1867.
[56] Charlottesville Chronicle, August, 1867.
[57] Enquirer, September 6, 1867.

[58] Enquirer, November 13, 1867. Fredericksburg News, August 15, 1867. Ex. Docs., 2nd session, 39th Congress, No. 72. Order of May 14, 1867.

[59] Enquirer, October 31, 1867.

p.80 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

registered.60 On the other hand, the conservatives lacked enthusiasm and energy.61 The press, it is true, urged the people to register, but there was great apathy and the whites had no effective organization. The new party which was growing up under the name of Conservative was rather a general movement of opposition to radicalism than an organized party with definite aims.

Meanwhile registration was carried on throughout the State under the strict eye of military authority.62 Congressional acts excluded many Confederates from voting and practically all of them from office, for the " test-oath " was required of all office-holders. Indeed, in many parts of the State the order excluded from governmental positions all who were competent to fill them. General Schofield announced that he would fill the vacancies,63 and that disloyal officers would be removed and their places filled by appointment. Many men were thereupon dismissed, and the vacant positions were given to Unionists. An officer of General Schofield's staff was assigned to the judgeship of the Richmond hustings court.64 On account of the lack of available men, offices were often given to carpet-baggers, who were usually entirely unfitted for their duties.

The military authority exercised very wide and varying powers under the reconstruction acts. General Schofield announced by order of May 28, 1867, that for the purpose of giving protection in cases where the civil authorities might fail, military commissioners should be selected from the army and the Freedmen's Bureau. These commissionary


[60] Ex. Docs., 2nd session, 39th Congress, No. 72.
[61] . Ibid.

[62] By General Order No. 34, all persons who had held civil or military offices under the United States, and those who had held State, legislative, executive or judicial offices and had given aid to the Confederacy, were disfranchised. The act of Congress of July 9, 1867, named the "test-oath" as a qualification for office. This oath was the same as that required by the Federal government of its officers. It declared that the subscriber had not engaged in armed revolt against the United States.

[63] Order of July 26, 1867.
[64] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 762. Enquirer, September 18, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.81

were given jurisdiction over sub-districts with military forces to sustain them, and were also placed in command of the police of cities and the power of counties for the purpose of suppressing insurrection and violence. For the protection of individuals commissioners were given the authority of county justices or police magistrates, with the direction to conform to the laws of Virginia as far as they did not conflict with those of the United States. Further, it was the duty of commissioners to report all cases and their decisions to headquarters. Trials by civil courts were preferred when justice would probably be done; otherwise the commissioners should intervene and conduct them."65 An order of September 21, 1867, authorized the sub-commissioners to exercise the jurisdiction given by the law to a judge of the State circuit court.66 Interference by the military authorities in matters of justice became fairly common, and decisions of the State courts were frequently annulled. There were some hundreds of cases of this sort. One such was that of C. C. Ball vs. Daniel Malone in Norfolk, in which the decision of the local court was set aside by an order of August 6, 1867.67

The campaign increased in warmth as the nominations for delegates to the convention were made. The negroes for the time gave themselves up to politics, for which they had already acquired an extreme liking. The difficulty of obtaining labor was consequently great in some sections, as the blacks lived in constant attendance upon political meetings. The freedmen showed a considerable aptitude for politics and demanded and received a share of the nominations. They gave an enthusiastic support to all the radical measures, especially confiscation.68

The campaign of 1867 came to a close in October. All


[65] Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1867, p. 759.
[66] Report of Secretary of War, 40th Congress, 2nd session, Vol. I, p. 240.
[67] The Special Order Book, Military Department No. I, at the State Library, Richmond.
[68] Enquirer, April 19, 1867; April 27 and May 13, 1867.

82 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia. [368

through the State candidates were nominated for the convention. About one-third of the radical nominees were negroes; this basis of representation seems to have been agreed upon, although sometimes the proportion of negro candidates was larger. At the meeting in Fredericksburg two whites and one negro were chosen. It was resolved "That our candidates must pledge themselves to sustain the principles of the Union Republican party, especially the equal political rights of all men in all respects; a system of common schools in which no distinctions shall be made on account of color and race, a general provision for the poor and a just and equitable system of taxation."69 This seems to have been a fairly representative platform.

In Richmond an effort was made by the more conservative Republicans to have a prominent and representative man nominated for that city.70 The names of Governor Pierpont and Franklin Stearns, an influential Republican, were proposed. The radical leaders, however, refused to consider the candidacy of more conservative men. The nominating convention was held on October 13, and there was a great gathering of negroes in the Capitol Square.71 The tobacco factories closed for the day, in order to give the workmen a chance to attend. The radicals were in complete control of the great assembly and directed its choice. Judge Underwood, J. W. Hunnicutt and James Morrissey, an Irishman, with two negroes, Lewis Lindsay and James Cox, were nominated.72 Morrissey was selected in place of Governor Pierpont or Franklin Stearns. The conservative Republicans, disappointed in the chosen candidates, considered the advisability of forming a separate ticket. Accordingly, they attempted to hold a meeting, but it was broken up by the mob of radical freedmen in hot


[69] Fredericksburg News, September, 1867.
[70] Ibid., October 17, 1867.

[71] "It was composed of men, women and children, and attended by the inevitable peddlers of cakes, lemonade, fried fish, stale ginger-bread and starch candy in large numbers."-- Fredericksburg News, October 17.

[72] Enquirer, October 15, 1867.

The State Campaign of 1867. p.83

anger at the dissenters.73 The plan was then abandoned, as it had become very evident that the moderate leaders could count on little support from the colored population.74

The State registration, when completed, showed a total of 225,933 voters, of whom 120,101 were white and 105,832 colored. The former were, therefore, considerably in the majority, but under the system of representation adopted they could hardly hope to elect a majority of the delegates.75 Many conservative papers accused the military authorities of gerrymandering the State in the radical interest, but there seems to have been little ground for this charge. For it is evident from the statistics that the vote was so distributed, that while there was a white majority and a majority of white counties, many more voters lived in the counties having black majorities than in the white. The negro population was far more concentrated, giving it a decided advantage.

The election was held on October 18-21, 1867. In Richmond the polls were kept open three days,76 and far into the night of the third, in order to give the negroes an opportunity to poll a full vote. There was disorder in some places, and troops dispersed a mob at Richmond.77 The


[73] Enquirer, October 15, 1867.

[74] The Richmond Whig abandoned the Republican party for the time being. On October 21, it said : "There are but two tickets before the people of Richmond--the run-mad radical and the conservative tickets. It is now too late for any other to be presented. Between these two the people of Richmond will have to make their choice."

[75] Report of Secretary of War, 40th Congress, 2nd session, Vol. 1, p. 294. The white majority was 14,269. The whites were more numerous in 52 counties and the blacks in 50. The aggregate number of voters, however, in the white districts was 90,555 to an aggregate of 125,895 in the black districts. Each delegate represented 2,061 constituents. According to the report of the military authorities, the aggregate representation would have given 44 delegates elected in white districts to 61 in black. The actual apportionment allowed 47 white districts and 58 negro. The report further stated that on the basis of representation in the State senate there would have been 42 delegates from 22 white districts, and 18 black districts would elect 58 delegates. Congressional representation would have given 34 white and 71 colored delegates.

[76] Enquirer, October 24, 1867.

[77] Ibid.


p.84 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

freedmen showed great enthusiasm; it is said that in Richmond county they began to come to the polls by midnight, and by nine or ten o'clock in the morning all had voted.78

The victory lay with the radical party. It elected 72 delegates, 25 of whom were negroes, to 33 conservatives. The whites cast 76,084 votes; the blacks 93,145. The apathy of the conservative people is evident in the fact that 44,000 registered white men failed to vote. The poll for the convention was 107,342; against it, 61,887; 14,835 whites voted for it and 638 blacks against.79 The last figure shows how united the negro race had become in the radical party. Fraud80and intimidation81were charged by the conservative press, especially in the election at Richmond. It is difficult to ascertain the truth. The newspapers also criticized Schofield for keeping the polls open in Richmond after the three appointed days had passed. He said, in reply, that he had done so on account of the crowd, which prevented some from voting. This excuse is not very plausible, perhaps, in view of the consideration that the election lasted three days, yet there seems small ground for charging the military with dishonest intention. The Richmond Whig even asserted that General Schofield desired the defeat of the Hunnicutt ticket in Richmond.82 But in any case the result was too decisive to have been brought about by manipulation.

Indeed, the conservatives were dismayed by the magnitude of their defeat. 83 The bitterness of the beaten party found vent in the discharge of negro employees for voting the radical ticket.84 On the other hand, the radical leaders became more violent in their expressions, possibly because of


[78] Fredericksburg News, November 7, 1867.
[79] Ex. Docs., 2nd session, 40th Congress, No. 342. Order of November 2, 1867.
[80] Enquirer, February 4, 1868.
[81] Enquirer, November 21, 1867.
[82] Fredericksburg News, November 4, 1867.
[83 ]Whig, October 25, 1867.

[84] Lynchburg Virginian, quoted by Fredericksburg News, November 7, 1867. Enquirer, December 16, 1867.


The State Campaign of 1867. p.85

their success. Finally Hunnicutt was arrested November 27, on a warrant issued by a Charles City justice, charging him with inciting the negroes of that county to insurrection and race war. The military authority intervened and ordered him to be released on bail.85

The result of the election had shown the conservatives the imperative need for a thorough party organization. Accordingly the executive committee of the conservative party of Richmond, including members of the old Whig and Democratic central executive committees, issued a call for a State convention to be held in Richmond on December 11, 1867. The press throughout the State, more hostile than ever to the radical party, gave hearty support.

About 800 delegates met in convention at Richmond on the eleventh of December. 85 Every part of Virginia was represented by prominent and influential men, among whom were John B. Baldwin, A. H. H. Stuart, J. R. Branch, R. M. T. Hunter, Thomas S. Bocock, John Letcher, T. H. Flournoy, Ex-Governor Kemper, James Barbour, Col. Randolph and others.

Alexander H. H. Stuart was elected president. He opened the discussions of the convention in a significant speech. "At the close of the war," he said, "we were assured that upon the repeal of the ordinance of secession, the repudiation of the Confederate debt and emancipation of the slaves, we would be restored to our rights in the Union; but instead of these promises being fulfilled, a policy has been inaugurated placing the Southern States under the control of our inferior race. We have met to appeal to the North not to permit the infliction of this disgrace upon us. Our rights may be wrested from us, but we will never submit to the rule of an alien and inferior race. We prefer the rule of the bayonet. . . . We desire further to perfect our organization so that all who desire that this shall continue to


[85] Richmond Enquirer, November 29, 1867.
[86] Enquirer and Whig, December 12, 1867.

p.86 The Political Reconstruction of Virginia.

be a white man's government may be able to act in concert and by one vigorous and united effort save ourselves from ruin and disgrace.87

Resolutions were adopted stating: (1) That slavery had been abolished and that it was not the purpose of the Virginia people to reduce the negroes again to that condition.(2) That Virginia should be restored to the Union. (3) That the people of Virginia were entitled to the rights provided by the Constitution of the United States. (4) That "to subject the white people of the State to the absolute supremacy, in their local government, in their representation in the senate and house of delegates, to the black race just emerged from personal servitude is abhorrent to the civilization of mankind." (5) The convention further declared that it disclaimed all hostility to the freedmen, but held that the white race should rule the State.

A complex system of party organization was adopted.88 First, there was to be a State committee of 35 members, nine of them residents of Richmond. The chief director was the chairman of the committee. Besides, there were eight associate directors and 24 consulting members from the eight Congressional districts. Voters should be organized in tens and fifties under the supervision of the superintendents of districts. R. T. Daniel, Marmaduke Johnson, H. K. Ellyson, M D. Coleman, Robert Ould, T. J. Evans, J. C. Shields, J. R. Fisher and J. R. Branch were appointed as members of the central committee. This system seems rather cumbrous and was not carried out in all its details, but the greatly increased strength of the conservative party in the next election was due, in part, to its better organization.


[87] Enquirer, December 12, 1867.
[88] Enquirer, December 13, 1867.