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[402] of April 18, 1868. Several other letters to General Grant, near the same time, explained the situation in detail.

As was to be expected, and in spite of any influence which the military commander could properly exert, that proposed Constitution, like those framed in the other States, perpetuated the worst features of the acts of Congress. It disqualified all the respectable whites from any active part in the government, leaving the negroes and ‘carpet-baggers’ full sway. So sweeping was this disqualification that in many parts of the State not a native Virginian, white or black, could be found who could read or write, and who would be eligible for election or appointment to any office. In my great anxiety to save the State from so great an evil, I went to the hall of the Convention and explained the impossibility of organizing a government under such a Constitution, and besought the Convention to strike out the disqualifying clause. I was listened to with cold respect, my advice was disregarded, and promptly after my departure the Constitution was finally adopted, and the Convention adjourned sine die.

But the State was, nevertheless, saved from the impending disaster. The act of Congress required that the Constitution be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection; but Congress had failed to appropriate money to pay the expenses of an election. If an election was to be held, the money must be taken from the treasury of the State, by the order of the district commander, or else Congress must make a special appropriation for that purpose. I declined to sanction the use of the people's money for any such purpose, refused to order an election for ratification or rejection of the obnoxious Constitution, and referred the matter to Congress, with a recommendation that the people be authorized to vote separately on the disqualifying clause—a privilege which the Convention had denied.

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U. S. Grant (1)
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April 18th, 1868 AD (1)
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