William M. (William Morris) Stewart.

Restoration resolutions introduced by Hon. W. M. Stewart, of Nevada online

. (page 1 of 1)
Online LibraryWilliam M. (William Morris) StewartRestoration resolutions introduced by Hon. W. M. Stewart, of Nevada → online text (page 1 of 1)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook













Mr. STEWART. I ask leave to introduce
a joint resolution. I should like to have the
whole of it read, ana I ask the privilege of
explaining it after it is read.

The Secretary read it, as follows :

A joint resolution (S. R. No. 48) setting forth certain
conditions upon which the States, the people of
which have been lately in rebellion against the
United States, shall berostoredto their representa-
tion in Congress.

Whereas in the present distracted condition of the
country it is eminently proper and necessary that all
just and constitutional meansshould be employed for
the quieting of popular excitement, the removal of
unreasonable prejudices, and the obliteration of all
hostile feeling growing out of the late unhappy civil
war; and whereas one of the most prolific sources of
unfriendly sentiment is the conflict of opinion exist-
ing on the subject of negro suffrage; and whereas it
is now most evident that there is no probability what-
ever that Senators and Representatives in Congress
from the States whose people were lately in insurrec-
tion will be allowed to occupy the seats to which they
have been elected until said States shall have com-
plied with certain fundamental conditions, a portion
of which are hereinafter recited; and whereas it is
unreasonable to expect the reestablishuient of har-
mony and good feeling so long as the eleven southern
States whose people were recently in insurrection are
prevented from resuming their ancient relations to
this Government: Therefore,

Be it revolved by the Senate and llouse of Represent-
atives of the United States in Congress assembled, 1.
That each of said States, whoso people were lately
in insurrection, as aforesaid, shall be recognized as
having fully and validly resumed itsformer relations
with this Government, and its chosen representatives
shall bo admitted into thetwo Houses of the national
Legislature whenever said State shallhaveso amend-
ed its constitution as, first, to do away all existing
distinctions as to civil rights and disabilities among

the various classes of its population by reason either
of race or color, or previous condition of servitude ;
6econd, to repudiate allpecuniary indebtedness which
said State may have heretofore contracted, incurred,
or assumed in connection with the late unnatural
and treasonable war; third, to yield all claim to
compensation on account of the liberation of its
slaves; and fourth, to provide for the extension of
the elective franchise to all persons upon the same
terms and conditions,- making no discrimination on
account of race, color, or previous condition of servi-
tude : Provided, That those who were qualified to
vote in the year 18C0 by the laws of their respective
States shall not be disfranchised by reason of any
new tests or conditions which have been or may be
prescribed since that year.

2. Resolved, That after the aforesaid conditions shall
have been complied with and thesame shall have been
ratified by a majority of the present voting popula-
tion of the State, including all those qualified to vote
under the laws thereof as they J existed in 1S60, a gen-
eral amnesty shall be proclaimed in regard to all per-
sons in such State who were in any way connected
with armed opposition to the Government of the Uni-
ted States, wholly exonerating them from all pains,
penalties, or disabilities to which they may have be-
come liable by reason of their connection with the

3. Resolved, That in view of the importance of the
thorough assimilation of the basis of suffrage in the
various States of the Union, all other States not above
specified be respectfully requested to incorporate an
amendment in their State constitutions respectively,
corresponding with the one above described.

4. Resolved, That in the adoption of the aforesaid
resolutions it is not intended to assert a coercive power
on the part of Congress in regard to the regulation of
the right of suffrage in the different States of the
Union, but only to make a respectful and earnest ap-
peal to theirown good sense and love of country, with
a view to the prevention of serious evils now threat-
ened, and to the peaceful perpetuation of the repose,

the happiness, and true glory of the whole American

The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Does the
Senator from Nevada ask for the present con-
sideration of the resolution ?

Mr. STEWART. I ask leave to say a few
words in explanation. I want the joint reso-
lution printed and referred to the committee
on reconstruction, but before that question is
put I ask unanimous consent to say a few words
in explanation. I have been a careful obser-
ver of the current of events since Congress
assembled, and I have come to the conclusion
that a proposition of this kind corresponds
with the prevailing sentiment in Congress and
also in the country as indicated by the public
press. I do jiot mean to express any opinion
as to the propriety or impropriety of negro
suffrage, which I have studiously avoided doing
on all occasions during this session.

Mr. POMEROY. What about that « white
man's Government?"

Mr. STEWART. About the white man's
Government I said that the idea should not be
scoffed at ; that it was a prejudice in the coun-
try that no man had a right to disregard ; and
I still say so. But I was going on to explain
that having come to the conclusion that this
is the present attitude of Congress and of the
country, and not having heard from the south-
ern States upon the proposition, I think it but
fair and just that the best terms Congress is
willing to grant at this session should be sub-
mitted to the South for them to adopt volun-
tarily or to reject. This proposition avoids all
the odious provisions which were attached to
the other propositions that have been brought
forward, in my estimation which appeared like
coercion. It also avoids the long road of a
constitutional amendment which must be con-
tested upon northern battle-fields before the
South will have an opportunity to be heard
upon it.

This, or something of this character, is the
only proposition that can be heard in the South
upon which they can pass during this session
of Congress. I do not pretend to be wedded
to the particular provisions, but simply to the
general proposition. I want it to conform ex-
actly to the sentiment of Congress. I want the
South to have an opportunity to vote upon it

without embodying in it any of the provisions
which they regard as odious or coercive. After
the proposition has been discussed, if they re-
fuse to adopt it it will be time enough to. con-
sider other propositions; but until they do
refuse I think it is unjust to take from them
the right to decide for themselves. I will say
furthermore, in presenting this proposition,
that I find it to be in accord with the telegram
sent by the President of the United States to
Judge Sharkey, which I am authorized to say
Judge Sharkey informs me is genuine. It cor-
responds in spirit with that dispatch, and I have
no reason to believe, from what the President
of the United States has said heretofore, that
he at all objects to it. I beg leave to read the
dispatch referred to :

Executive Mansion,
Washington, D. C, August 15, 1865.
Governor William L. Sharkey, Jackson, Mississippi:
I am gratified to see that you have organized your
convention without difficulty. I hope that without
delay your convention will amend your State consti-
tution, abolishing slavery and denying to all future
Legislatures the powers to legislate that there is prop-
erty in man. Also, that they will adopt the amend-
nientto the Constitution of the United States abolish-
mgslavery. If you could extend the elective franchise
to all persons of color who can read the Constitution
of the United Statesin English and write theirnames,
and to all persons of color who own real estate val-
ued at not less than 8250, and pay taxes thereon, you
would completely disarm the adversary and set an
example the other States would follow. This you can
do with perfect safety, and you thus place the south-
ern States, in reference to free persons of color, upon
the same basis with the free States. I hope and trust
your convention will do this, and, as a consequence,
the radicals, who are wild upon negro franchise, will
be completely, foiled in their attempts to keep the
southern States from renewing their relations to the
Union by not accepting their Senators and Represent-


President United States.
I will state that this letter was not sent to the
convention for the reason that, as Judge Shar-
key understood, the convention had refused to
receive communications from him upon such
subjects, so that the question never was pre-
sented to the people of that State or any other
State. The President it appears did not feel
himself authorized to submit the question to
the people, or to demand it as a condition,
because it was not one of the issues made in
the war. He confined himself to those issues.

This was a question outside on which the peo-
ple of the South have had no chance of pass-
ing. The resolution, it will be perceived, in
terms proposes to confer equal suffrage upon
all persons ; that the same tests shall apply to
all persons with one exception ; that is, that
persons who were entitled to vote in 1860 under
the laws of their respective States shall not
under any circumstances be disfranchised. It
leaves the States at liberty to fix any educa-
tional or property test that they may desire as
regards other persons. That would apply to
the young white population under twenty-seven
years of age as well as the colored population.
Both would be placed precisely upon the same
footing as to educational tests. It would be
unfair now, I think, to impose an educational
test upon a man who had passed those years
at which persons can with facility learn to read
and write. This jfould place the young white
men of the country as far as tests are concerned
upon the same footing with the colored people
for all future time. If the States desire to es-
tablish an educational test, it would only apply
to young white men who are now under the
age of twenty-seven, an age at which people
can readily learn to read and write. A test of
that kind can be applied under this resolu-
tion, thus excluding that mass of ignorance
which all must confess would embarrass the
operations of Government. At the same time
it holds out the opportunity which appears to
be desired on the part of the majority of Con-
gress that the negro may have an opportunity
ultimately to be enfranchised. At all events
it submits the whole question to the South for
them to determine, and we disclaim by the res-
olution any desire to coerce them in so doing.

The resolution also places before them dis-
tinctly the other questions that are not wholly
settled as to the rebel debt,*and as to any claim
or compensation for the emancipation of their
slaves. Let them pass upon these questions

The resolution calls upon the rebels to vote
upon these propositions. I am of opinion that
the South cannot be governed except by a ma-
jority of its people. I do not believe that one
tenth can govern the rest of the people. In
order to govern them they must necessarily re-
sort to such arbitrary means as will destroy free

government in the South. The majority must
govern, and I think it but fair that we should
give the rebels an opportunity to assent to this
proposition, because I believe that this is about
the sense of the country. If they reject it, it
will then be time enough for us to adopt further
provisions and take another course. The road
will then be pointed out to us ; we shall then
know the disposition of the South. It may be
that the South would rather make the rising
generation stand upon an educational test with
the colored population, if thereby the present
generation could be excluded from disabilities
and enabled to become citizens, to be Ameri-
cans again. It may be that the South will hail
this proposition with joy. If so I am confident
that the North would gladly accept it. If the
South adopt it, it will prevent all further agi-
tation of this most embarrassing question ; but
if you force it without the consent of the peo-
ple, if there is an attempt by faction to rule in
the matter, it may prove disastrous. If there
is no middle ground of pacification it seems to
me that civil war is almost inevitable before
the whole matter shall be closed 1 . Before we
resort to any coercive means, to anything that
may drench this country again in fraternal blood,
I am desirous that this proposition, which I be-
lieve to embody the opinion of a majority of
Congress, shall go to the southern States and
be ratified or rejected by them. The proposi-
tion to them is certainly a very liberal one. It
proposes to relieve them of all the pains and
penalties incurred by them in consequence of
their treason, and if they cheerfully adopt it,
they can regulate their elective franchise so as
not to impair their free institutions. I have
assurances from which I believe the South will
adopt it. 1 find it is in accord with the repeated
sentiments of the press of the North. I read
an extract from Mr. Greeley's paper, the Trib-
une, the other day. I will again read it :

"Let it be distinctly understood if the -whites of the
South are not represented in Congress it is because
they deny the right of representation or power of
self-protection to the blacks."

I say they have not had an opportunity to
say whether they would or would not deny
those rights ; that the opportunity has never
been extended to them ; that the letter of the
President which proposed substantially these


terms did not reach them; that the people
have never had an opportunity to vote upon
them. The Tribune goes on :

" Show us a single State which admits her blacks to
vote on a like intellectual, educational, moral, and
pecuniary basis with the whites, and we will urge the
instant admission of the chosen Representatives of
that State, though they be all ex-rebel generalsof the
most obnoxious type."

With this explanation, stating again that I do
not attempt to give any opinion or commit my-
self at all on the question of negro suffrage, in-
troducing this resolution simply to submit what
I believe to be the opinion of the majority of
Congress voluntarily to the South, disclaiming
in the resolution itself any idea of coercion,
but simply wishing to submit it in order to
avoid angry discussion here, and then to wait
until there has been action there upon it;
simply offering it for such a purpose, I move
its reference to the committee on reconstruc-

Mr. WILLIAMS. With the permission of
the Senator I would like to ask him whether,
if the committee of fifteen should report a plan
of reconstruction embodying the proposition
jontained in this resolution, he would support
.tnd vote for that plan, and if he proposes to
appose any representation by the rebel States
n Congress until that plan is adopted by those
States, in case it should be submitted by Con-

Mr. STEWART. I propose to pass it and
submit it to the States, and neither to oppose
nor to ask representation for them, leaving the
matter to stand until they have had an oppor-
tunity to vote on it. I propose to vote for it
myself. I never offer a proposition that I do
not propose to support. I propose to vote for
the proposition, and then await the action of
the South.

Mr. CONNESS. I rise to inquire whethfer
if is not a stretch of liberality on the part of the
'honorable Senator from Nevada to expect the
committee of fifteen to sustain his proposition
when he refuses to sustain any proposition
that comes from the committee of fifteen.

Mr. STEWART. May I reply to that ?

Mr. CONNESS. I ask the question.

Mr. STEWART. It may be a stretch of
liberality on the part of any gentleman to have

views of his own ; but if that be the case I shal
always stretch my liberality. I simply submi
this proposition. If Congress do not adopt i'
I shall not feel that I am particularly respon-
sible for their action ; I simply submit it tc
them. Other gentlemen have sent proposition!
to that committee, and it has not been inquire*
•whether it was a stretch of liberality or not.
supposed it was a privilege we had, to submi
our propositions and compare ideas. Of cours*
I only submit it as a proposition to Congress
believing it to be the reflex of the sentimen
that has already been expressed.

Mr. SUMNER. I merely wish to make on
remark. I welcome in the Senator from Ne
vada a new convert to the necessity of colore*
suffrage. Already repeatedly on this floo
during the present session I have said tha
colored suffrage was the only guarantee of fu
ture peace and security in this country. I hav
insisted that it was a necessity ; that without i
your national debt is in peril ; without it you
freedmen will be in constant peril and this Re
public cannot enjoy permanent peace. Sii
I welcome with open arms the Senator froi

Leave was granted to introduce the join
resolution, and it was read twice by its title.

Mr. SAULSBURY. Believing that this i
a proposition which no State ought to accep
or will accept, I move to lay it upon the tabic

The motion was not agreed to.

Mr. WILSON. I desire simply to say tha
I thank the Senator from Nevada for offerin
this proposition. I have no doubt it will re
ceive the serious consideration of the commil
tee to which he proposes to refer it, of th
Senate, and of the country. I am for one, an
I believe the country are, willing to settle thi
whole question on the basis of universal lit
erty, universal justice, universal suffrage, au
universal amnesty.

Mr. STEWART. I would like to have th
resolution printed before it .is referred.

Mr. HENDERSON. I am under some ot
ligations to the Senator from Nevada also, an
I desire to express them. The Senator froi
Nevada reads a telegraphic communication froi
the President, dated last August, to Governo
Sharkey of Mississippi, urging upon him to hav
the Mississippi convention adopt or to ingra'

upon the constitution of Mississippi the princi-
ple of negro suffrage. I will state that last Octo-
ber, when I was in this city, the communication
was laid before me by the President, and I was
authorized by the President to say in a public
speech before the people of Missouri that such
were his views. I was not authorized to pub-
lish the telegram itself as directed to Governor
Sharkey. I did not do so, but I did state that
the President in a private conversation with
me, and that I was authorized so to say, ex-
pressed himself in favor of negro suffrage, and
in a speech at my town in Missouri I stated the
precise views of the President as they are now
stated before the Senate this morning. The
newspaper press all over the country has de-
nounced that statement to be false. The press
of my State not agreeing with me in sentiment
has been very free in its abuse and declarations
of the falsehood of that statement ; that the
President was not in favor of negro suffrage ;
that he had never so expressed himself. Now,
I suppose that the Senator from Nevada has it
from the President himself.

Mr. STEWART. From Governor Sharkey.

Mr. HENDERSON. I am under very great
obligations to the Senator from Nevada for
putting before the country a corroboration of

what I have said. I have been left almost
without proof of the fact until this morning. It
is now established that this is a genuine docu-
ment, and that the President, even as early as
last August, was in favor of negro suffrage ; and
I presume that he is yet in favor of negro suf-
frage. If I am a radical for being in favor of
negro suffrage, the President is equally a radi-
cal ; and I presume that the President will not
see fit to change his opinion. I desire that it
shall be distinctly known to the country that
if the majority in this body and in the lo\yer
House are to be denounced as radicals and as
Jacobins throughout the country, the President
should be placed in the same category ; that if
it be radicalism to be in favor of negro suf-
frage, the President is the first and original
radical upon the subject of negro suffrage in his
reconstruction. He urged it upon his own
governors and upon the States.

Mr. YATES. I simply wish to say that I
am not surprised that any gentleman should
find out that free citizens in this country are
entitled to suffrage. They will find it out very

The joint resolution was referred to the com-,,
mittee on reconstruction, and ordered to be*


Online LibraryWilliam M. (William Morris) StewartRestoration resolutions introduced by Hon. W. M. Stewart, of Nevada → online text (page 1 of 1)