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Chapter XXI

  • Reconstruction in Virginia
  • -- the State legislature advised to adopt the Fourteenth Amendment -- congressional reconstruction as a result of the refusal -- the manner in which the acts of Congress were executed -- no resort to trial by military commission -- the obnoxious Constitution framed by the State Convention -- how its worst feature was nullified -- appointed Secretary of War.


in August, 1866, after my return from Europe, I was assigned to command the Department of the Potomac, which included the State of Virginia, then governed in part by the Freedmen's Bureau and in part by the provisional government which had been organized at Alexandria while the war was still in progress. The State had yet to obtain from Congress a recognition of its government, which recognition was understood to depend upon the ratification by the State legislature of the then pending Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This subject was very fully discussed between me and the leading members of the legislature. I advised them to accept the proposed amendment as the only means of saving the State from the more ‘radical’ reconstruction under act of Congress, which was then threatened. It was urged that Virginia would not suffer much from the operation of the Fourteenth Amendment, because of the general intelligence of her white population and their

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