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[140] heel was upon our beloved land. We were deprived of all civil and political rights. We had neither law nor order; there was no protection of life, liberty or property. As a conquered province we were held in durance vile. With military dictators in authority at every city, town and village, the ‘Bureau’ for ‘the wards of the nation,’ and that valiant cohort of carpet-baggers fraternizing with the ‘brother in black,’ a scene of degradation followed that presented so appalling a picture no pen can portray. With such rulers over our State, corruption, fraud and profligacy held high carnival. From every wronged heart the cry arose, ‘How long, oh Lord, how long, wilt thou delay thy vengeance.’ After a weary decade of bitter humiliation, our noble leaders made a bold charge as grand as that of the famous Light Brigade, and completely routed their political opponents. The great seal of State once more passed into their hands, and from that time to the present hour sacredly have they guarded it.

It was not easy to discharge the duties of citizenship in the States which had formed the Southern Confederacy during the years immediately succeeding the war. The plan of reconstruction inaugurated by the executive in 1865 was accepted by the people; they returned to their usual vocations, and peace and order were gradually restored; but before the new State governments were fully organized the plans of the executive were overthrown by the Congressional scheme, and the newly enfranchised freedman became a potent political factor under the second reconstruction. Years of strife, confusion, corruption and misgovernment necessarily followed., They were hard years for the inhabitants of the States who had been identified with the Southern cause. No other teacher than experience can enable one to form a correct idea of the trials and difficulties and perplexities of those days. In sections of country where the white people were in the minority—a very large minority in

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1865 AD (1)
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