superiority in numbers over the negroes—advantages which some of the other Southern States did not enjoy; that if the Virginia legislature would ratify the pending amendment, Congress could not refuse to recognize the existing State government and make it permanent; and that Virginia
would thus be restored at once to her full privileges as a State in the Union
I visited Washington
, and obtained from leading Republicans in Congress the assurance, so far as it was in their power to give it, that such would be the result.
On my return to Richmond
, it at first seemed that the amendment would be speedily ratified.
But other influences, understood to come from some source in Washington
(probably President Johnson
), finally prevailed; the amendment was rejected; and Virginia
was thus doomed to undergo ‘congressional reconstruction’ in company with her sister States.
The ‘policy’ of President Johnson
having resulted in an ‘irrepressible conflict’ between him and Congress, finally culminating in his impeachment, the reconstruction of the States lately in insurrection was undertaken by Congress.
First an act dated March 2, 1867, was passed for the military government of the ‘rebel States,’ and then another act, dated March 23, 1867, prescribing the conditions of organization of State governments preparatory to restoration to the Union
; the last-named act was supplemented by the act dated July 19, 1867.
All of these acts were passed over the President
They provided for the assignment of military commanders in the several districts, with nearly absolute powers to govern those States and direct the steps in the process of reconstruction.
It fell to my lot to command the First Military District, into which Virginia
was converted by the act of Congress.
The terrible oppression of the Southern
people embodied in those acts of Congress has hardly been appreciated