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[403]

The radicals in Congress were so glad, apparently, of this mode of escape from a result so obnoxious to the better sense of the Union people at that time, that not a voice was raised in favor of the ‘carpet-bag’ Constitution or in disapprobation of my action in regard to it. The instrument was permitted to rest quietly in the pigeonhole of the district commander's desk until the next year. Then an act was passed providing for submitting that Constitution to the people of Virginia, with the privilege of voting separately on the disfranchising clause, which clause they, of course, rejected. Thus Virginia was saved from the vile government and spoliation which cursed the other Southern States, and which the same radical Congress and its successors sustained until the decent public sentiment of the North would endure them no longer.

It is, perhaps, not too much to say that if the other district commanders had in like manner refused to make themselves parties to the spoliation of the people placed under their charge, Congress would have shrunk from the direct act of imposing upon them such obnoxious governments, and the country might have been saved the disgrace of the eight years of carpet-bag rule in the South. At least it is certain that a large proportion of the more moderate among the Republican majority in Congress at that time indulged the hope that respectable governments might be organized under the acts of Congress. But they made this difficult, if not impossible, when they gave their assent to the amendment of those acts, prepared by the extremist radicals, depriving the Southern whites of any active part in the organization of their governments. Impartial justice, as expressed in ‘impartial suffrage,’ might have led to tolerable results even in those States where the blacks were in the majority. But under a law which gave universal suffrage to the blacks and disfranchised the influential

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