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[621]
I do solemnly swear that I have never borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have never sought or accepted, nor attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatever, under any authority, or pretended authority, in hostility to the United States; that I have not yielded a voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, power, or Constitution within the United States, hostile or inimical thereto; and I do further swear that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.

Major General Schofield, in an address to the convention in opposition to these stringent provisions, said:

You can not find in some of the counties a sufficient number of men who are capable of filling the offices, and who can take the oath you have prescribed here, I have no hesitation in saying that I believe it impossible to inaugurate a government upon that basis.

Meantime the so-called constitution was adopted by the convention, and June 2d fixed for the popular vote upon it. But no appropriation was made for the expense of the election, and it was not held. Major General Stoneman now succeeded Major General Schofield.

The utter subjugation of the sovereign people of Virginia was now manifest. Not a public act of the least importance could they do without the consent of the military chief who ruled over them, and who was a stranger in their state. Finding the provisions of this constitution were so restrictive as to exclude from the elective franchise nearly all of the most intelligent and best-educated citizens, on account of their participation in the late war, a movement was commenced for a modification of these clauses or their entire omission. The sovereignty of the people was extinct, so no relief could be secured except through the action of the sovereign sitting in Washington. Congress, therefore, passed an act authorizing the President (Grant), at such time as he might deem best, to submit the constitution to the registered voters of Virginia, and also submit to a separate vote such provisions of the constitution as he thought proper. The act also required the legislature that should be elected to ratify the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as a condition precedent ‘to the readmission of the State into the Union.’

The fifteenth article of amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress in February, 1869, and submitted to the legislatures of the states. It was as follows:

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