April 12, 1866: Oh yeah, Congress overrode the veto.

Lobby of the House of Representatives
Lobby of the House of Representatives during passage of the Civil Rights act of 1866.

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The Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus of April 12, 1866 buried this one sentence at the very bottom of the first column on the second page: “The Senate has passed the Civil Rights Bill over the Presidents [sic] veto.” The bill in question, the 1866 Civil Rights Act, prefigured the 14th amendment by granting birthright citizenship and protecting all citizens equally under the law. Its first section:


An Act

To protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their Vindication

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States; and such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right, in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property, as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, and penalties, and to none other, any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.

The remainder dealt with enforcement. Johnson vetoed it as an unconstitutional expansion of Federal power into what he viewed as the rights of states. The Senate overrode the veto on April 6, and the House on April 9.

Posted in Civil rights, Freedmen | Leave a comment

April 5, 1866: Supporting Presidential Reconstruction

The April 5, 1866 Cape Girardeau Argus reported that an overflow crowd packed the Jackson courthouse to meet in support of President Johnson. The report below gives the resolutions that were passed by this group. In short, they’re for Presidential Reconstruction, under which the southern states are basically welcomed back into the Union with no changes except the end of slavery. In particular, the meeting is opposed to black suffrage.

This gives rise to an almost comical contrast between two of the resolutions. One tells us that

we accord to the black man all civil rights necessary to his condition and capacity, and to secure the fruits of his labor; but to extend to him universal suffrage, would be of no benefit to him, would lower the standard of our civilization, degrade the white man, and endanger the stability of government, by the introduction of so large an element of ignorance and incapacity in its administration.

Move down a couple, and you get this one:

we have an abiding confidence in the capacity of the people for self-government and to prevent the chains of a heartless despotism from being riveted upon the country, it is the duty of all who are entitled by law to a vote, to qualify, and by all peaceful and lawful means, insist on the exercise of the dearest right of a freeman; and where wantonly and unlawfully denied that sacred right, (if it were possible to find an officer so lost to the instincts of liberty and honor,) see that redress is had by a peaceful appeal, both civilly and criminally, to the public tribunals of justice.

Apparently the meeting failed to see any conflict here; I can only conclude that they didn’t see black people as part of “the people”.

Full text below.


Ratification Meeting

Pursuant to notice previously given, a large and enthusiastic meeting for the ratification of the policy of President Johnson in his endeavors to restore the Southern States to their [?] standing in the Union, took place at Jackson, on Saturday, March 31st, 1866.

The meeting came to order at one o’clock p m by the nomination of Capt. Ezra King, as chairman, and W.M. Hamilton, for Secretary, which selections were-unanimously confirmed by the meeting.

On motion of Geo. H. Greene, Esq., the Chair was requested to appoint a committee of five to draft resolutions. The following names were selected Geo. H. Greene, Elam Russell, Andy Clippard, R.W. Harris, D.W. Shepherd, Wm. E. Alexander, Col. H.H.M. Williams.

The committee retired, and in their absence Judge English moved that Gen. James R. McCormick, who had just arrived, be requested to address the multitude.

General McCormick reviewed the rise and progress of the Radical junta who now misrule the State, in a masterly speech of about an hour’s length, at the end of which the committee on resolutions reported, the resolutions were read by George H. Greene, when, previous to their adoption he was called on for a speech, and responded in his happiest style, dealing some hard blows to the Rads. At its conclusion the resolutions were unanimously adopted as follows:

Resolved, that the ordinances of secession, by the States lately in insurrection, having been nullities from the beginning, those States never lost their legal status of States within the Union; and the insurrection being suppressed, and the national authority everywhere recognized, these States, and the people thereof, are entitled to the enjoyment of all the rights and immunities guaranteed by the original compact of Union, among which are the rights of self-government and equal representation; and that policy, which could subject the free enjoyment of these inalienable rights of American liberty to degrading and humiliating conditions finds no warrant in the Constitution; is contrary to the traditions of all civilized communities, especially of American traditions, and is inimical to the speedy return of peace, confidence, fraternity and the public prosperity.

Resolved, that the doctrine of State suicide and territorial dependence, upon which such policy is sought to be justified, is equally an error with that of secession, but upon opposite motives and principles; equally detrimental to the cause of peace and Union, and inconsistent with the principles upon which the war was waged to suppress the insurrection, and in truth but disunion in another shape; and prompted by a spirit of political revenge, and of ambition to foster power and overgrown monopolies in a particular section, contrary to the general good, and that equality and justice which are the conditions of that consent upon which all just government is founded.

Resolved, that emancipation having boon effected by the events of the war, and the whole Union having been equally implicated in the sin of domestic slavery, no illiberal or revengeful policy, based on a spirit of hostility to that institution against the South exclusively, is either just or generous; and the public good demands the restoration of kindly relations and confidence, by the exercise of a just spirit of conciliation and mutual forbearance.

Resolved, therefore, that we heartily approve of and endorse the wise and statesmanlike policy of reconstruction adopted by President Johnson, and of his judicious exercise of the constitutional power of the veto, to arrest unwise, unconstitutional and unjust legislation, by which he has generously placed himself as the barrier between the people and their oppressors.

Resolved, that we approve of the course of Hons. Thos. E. Noell and John Hogan, the members from this and the St. Louis districts, in their courageous and manly support of the President, in his struggle with the factious and unscrupulous majority in Congress.

Resolved, that the true end of government is the happiness of the people, by wise, just and liberal legislation securing the largest liberty compatible with safety to the largest number; that the late Convention and Legislature of Missouri governed by a groveling spirit of bigotry, intolerance and despotism, reversed this wise maxim of free government unnecessarily, by circumscribing the civil and religious liberties of the citizen, through unconstitutional and ex post facto oaths, and acts of sweeping disfranchisement, to perpetuate power in the hands of a select few.

Resolved, that the only true test of loyalty in a free government is fidelity to the Union, the Constitution and the law, as expounded and enforced by legitimate authority. All other tests founded on fanatical and bigoted views of negro equality, and visionary schemes of progress, are outside of the Constitution – at best but matters of opinion, and are but the [?] of heartless demagogues to [?] over and under by deceiving [?] masses.

Resolved, That we accord to the black man all civil rights necessary to his condition and capacity, and to secure the fruits of his labor; but to extend to him universal suffrage, would be of no benefit to him, would lower the standard of our civilization, degrade the white man, and endanger the stability of government, by the introduction of so large an element of ignorance and incapacity in its administration.

Resolved, That it is the duty of all good and loyal men, of whatever shade of political opinion in times past, to rally about the standard of wise and just principles, to the end that confidence and kindly relations may be speedily restored among us, and the liberties handed down to us by our hero fathers be perpetuated.

Resolved, That we have an abiding confidence in the capacity of the people for self-government and to prevent the chains of a heartless despotism from being riveted upon the country, it is the duty of all who are entitled by law to a vote, to qualify, and by all peaceful and lawful means, insist on the exercise of the dearest right of a freeman; and where wantonly and unlawfully denied that sacred right, (if it were possible to find an officer so lost to the instincts of liberty and honor,) see that redress is had by a peaceful appeal, both civilly and criminally, to the public tribunals of justice.

Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Cape Girardeau Argus, Missouri Republican, and all other papers friendly to the cause.

Resolutions unanimously adopted.
On motion, the meeting adjourned.
Ezra King, Chairman.
W.M. Hamilton, Secretary.

Posted in Emancipation, Freedmen, Missouri, Racism, Reconstruction | Leave a comment

March 29, 1866: More celebration of the veto of the Freedmen’s Bureau bill

Charles Sumner [front]
Charles Sumner

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The Cape Girardeau Argus once again rejoices over Andrew Johnson’s veto of the bill extending the Freedmen’s Bureau. This time the article is from the front page, usually reserved for “literary” efforts — stories, poetry, humor, etc. This particular effort at humor is particularly revealing of the hostility toward freed former slaves among the Unionist Democrats in southeast Missouri.

I’m a bit puzzled by the reference to the Committee of Thirteen — there was such a committee involved in the compromise of 1850, but it didn’t exist in 1866. I have to assume it’s a mistake, and intended to refer to the Committee of Fifteen, led by Thaddeus Stevens and William Fessenden, which was trying to set Reconstruction policy in Congress.


Alas Poor Yorick

Died on the 19th of February, 1866, at the city of Washington of a malady called President’s Veto, Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, Esq., aged – days.

This interesting infant was chiefly the production of a certain Charles Sumner, and with Dr. Trumbull as midwife, was brought forth in the Senate of the United States. Before it could cry or open its eyes, it was tenderly wrapped in its swaddling clothes and sent to the White House, for Mr. Andy Johnson to look at. It lived but a short time after it reached there. The president looked on its baby features, and forthwith resolved to murder the brat. Its complexion was black, and would bring shame on the great Anglo-Saxon family over which he ruled. He accordingly sent for a heavy mallet, made many years ago by wise men, and latterly not much used, named the “veto,” and with one blow the skull was fractured and the brains spilled out — and the young brat gave up the ghost. Its dead body was carried back to its fathers, and a galvanic battery, called a two thirds majority, was immediately applied to the corpse, but it failed to bring life back into the thing.

There was mourning and lamentation over the lifeless remains. Daddy Sumner shed tears, and an old negro wench in the galleries wiped her eyes with a moral pocket-handkerchief. There is a sepulchre at Washington City called the “Committee of Thirteen,” very fair to look upon, but inside like all sepulchers, full of rottenness. In the silence of the night, it is said, to the sepulchre this abolition brat was borne, and consigned to its last resting-place amid the sobs and moans of its parents and friends. A small negro boy wept dolorously, and followed the procession afar off. An epitaph was written and inscribed on the tomb in these words:

Died of Veto.

Posted in Andrew Johnson, Freedmen, Freedmen's Bureau, Reconstruction, Thaddeus Stevens, William Fessenden | Leave a comment

March 22, 1866: Supporting Johnson’s veto of the Freedman’s Bureau bill

Andrew Johnson

The Cape Girardeau Argus continues here in its support for Johnson’s view of Reconstruction, a view in which the rights of freed former slaves apparently need no protection. On February 19, Johnson vetoed the bill extending the Freedman’s Bureau. He will shortly be confronted with the Civil Rights Act.


Public Meeting

There will be a meeting of the people favorable to the Reconstruction Policy of President Johnson at Jackson on Saturday, March 31,1866 at 1 o’clock, P.M. Speakers from all sections have been invited and are expected to be present to address the meeting come out, one and all, and let the voice of the people be heard above the howling of mad disunionists in stilling the angry waves of passion that rule the hour.

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How the People Stand.

For sustaining President Johnson’s veto:

Democracy of the North ……1,800,000
Conservative Republicans…….400,000
Voters of Southern States….1,500,000

……………………… 3,700,000

Against it:

Disunion radicals ………….800,000

Majority in favor (more than two to one)
………………………..1,900,000

Thirty-eight of the country papers of Missouri support the President in his defense of the country against the mad schemes of the Radicals, while thirteen are against him.

A majority of two thirds, therefore, favor the patriotic course of the President.

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March 13, 1866: Suffrage?

Negro Suffrage

The New York Times ran a short editorial on March 13, 1866 suggesting a rationale for placing limits on suffrage for black Americans. I leave it to the reader to pick apart the various problems with the argument, but this sentence is the key to the problem for me:

“But to throw this priceless privilege into the hands of blacks, whose ideas are still a compound of ignorance and fetichism, who, in all this war, have so feebly recognized their political relations as to utterly fail to raise a hand for the Government that was fighting their battle, is something that, for many reasons in no manner connected with color, we are most unwilling to bear a part. ” [Emphasis mine].

The writer goes on to propose restrictions on black voting that would not apply to white voters.


Justice to the Freedmen – The Suffrage Question

We suppose that nobody doubts the earnestness of purpose of the Radical leaders in Congress. They are probably as pure in motive as the general run of politicians. Their discretion and capacity as leaders are altogether another matter, and before the great Union masses of the country submit themselves to a policy which is largely founded on passionate, excited, or vindictive feeling, we should stop to think that constitutional amendments are unluckily universal in their application, and that in any so-called amendment we subject ourselves to the same conditions we impose on our late enemies. If we embody in our organic law, as guaranties of their future loyalty, unpleasant and unrepublican theories, against which our sense of right revolts when applied to ourselves, we may be pretty sure that we are somewhere wrong.

Within this category comes the question of negro suffrage. The Union party has in various ways asserted principles that logically involve that result at last. The details of time and method are the only real questions left for argument. We have a right to consider the principle as practically settled: and, if so, we have also a right to hold opinions of our own as to when and how the principle can be carried out, without being denounced as traitors to the cause.

Some moral and political points are very obvious. The Federal Government has, in various ways, incurred obligations to the black race that should be promptly discharged. The black soldier who has helped fight our battles should not be made an alien now. He has not only served his country in the field, but has almost universally qualified himself by education to serve her intelligently at the polls. His time of delay should be short, his method prompt. So, too, with others, who have looked into the spelling-book and the Bible for the first qualifications of voters. To such as these, and we may add, those who have raised themselves above their level by the acquisition of property, we are willing to give the ballot as we gave the musket.

But to throw this priceless privilege into the hands of blacks, whose ideas are still a compound of ignorance and fetichism, who, in all this war, have so feebly recognized their political relations as to utterly fail to raise a hand for the Government that was fighting their battle, is something that, for many reasons in no manner connected with color, we are most unwilling to bear a part.

These reasons should be obvious to every student of State polity. If we force upon the Southern States an unconditional negro suffrage, we consolidate its opposition, and renew its hatreds by the same act in which we increase its political power to a ration greater than that existing prior to the rebellion. We confer no real benefit upon the negro, for he, like his brethren of the ignorant classes of the North, will be led up to the polls to vote his own wrong and destruction.

Again, is the right of the ballot a cheap thing to be cast out carelessly and picked up by the first comer? Or is it a prize of honor to be won in the fair fields of education and citizenship? Is the negro, now for the first time really a citizen, any better qualified for the ballot than the educated foreigner who leaves his country and seeks a home here because he admires our institutions, and whom we compel to wait five years? The right of the ballot, so far as it is a right, and so far as it can be safely employed, is a privilege, based on intelligence, to express an authoritative and, if in the majority, a forcible opinion on the affairs of the State. Yet we deny this right to our wives, to our young soldiers still in their minority, to Mr. Sumner himself if he happens to be away from home on election day. It is a gross error to say that this Government has ever sanctioned an absolutely universal suffrage. But it has lying at the foundation of its system, the very pivotal idea of its existence, the theory that an intelligent and reading popular mass is the truest and safest sovereign, the wisest ruler. Let us then hold out suffrage to the black as “the prize of the high calling,” to be earned honestly by education, good conduct, and the vindication of his manhood.

And as, sooner or later, he must and will vote, we are called upon by selfish as well as patriotic considerations, to see that the proper opportunities for improvement and a fair chance for his own vindication are afforded him.

Posted in Freedmen, Reconstruction, Suffrage | Leave a comment

March 1, 1866: Joy over the veto of the 2nd Freedmen’s Bill

The Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus’ editor exults over Johnson’s veto of the 2nd Freedmen’s bill in terms so fulsome that it’s a little hard to take seriously. You can read the bill online; I’m having trouble finding the crimes “commensurate with theft, arson, and tyranny” in it, but the overheated rhetoric wouldn’t be out of place in the current political climate. As Johnson points out, the main objection would be that it uses military force to protect the rights of freed former slaves. This was tyranny to those who wanted to usurp those rights, of course.


The Mills of the Earth Do the Grinding for Heaven

In the veto of President Johnson is illustrated how Providence attains its ends and serves the cause of humanity through human agency. A bill embracing infamies commensurate with theft, arson and tyranny was attempted by the party whose radical proclivities defer to everything that is base and cowardly, and arrested in its unjust infliction by an inflexible veto, from an inflexible man. All praise to President Johnson!

It appears to be the opinion of the President that an armed rebellion in the minority is fraught with far less inflammable matter than cunning and implacable representatives whose invidious action is marked by a disposition to subserve personal aggrandizment and subvert constitutional privileges; and when he mentioned Stevens and Sumner and Philips, he did it with a view to impress upon he people the fact that these men are more to be feared than was the once formidable front of the rebellion, for one was characterized by open hostility upon a mooted principle, the other by seditious appeals and unjust legislation upon a sickly and thoroughly contemptible sentiment. The majority of the people looked with alarm upon the construction of the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill as a calamity that should not be inflicted upon a people in any event, and devoutly hoped that some heroic heart would inveigh against its infractions — that some determined hand would write it down invalid. In their eagerness they looked to one who has not disappointed them; and if it was gratifying to know that President Johnson forbore to tolerate the inignitious [sic] incorporation, it was equally gratifying to read the healthy sentiments embodying fundamental principles of republican liberty to which the important veto gave rise. That act and that speech confirms the individuality of the Executive, exacts increased trust and confidence from the people, and places him at once in the full meridian of his glory.

While the sheen of pure patriotism and honesty of untrammeled statesmanship radiate with perennial brilliancy in the Executive, the trinity composing his and the country’s great enemy will gloom in proportionate ratio until they shall live only in the unpleasant memory of a disgusted people.

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February 22, 1866: Local Boosters Push for Railroad

St. Louis and Iron Mtn Railroad

Citizens held a meeting in Cape Girardeau to advocate for the St. Louis and Iron Mountain railroad to come through Cape Girardeau. Spoiler alert; it didn’t. A spur was built that connected it to Jackson, and much of that right-of-way was recently abandoned back to the neighboring landowners.


Railroad Meeting,

For the extension of the Iron Mountain Railroad to a point opposite Columbus, Ky., by the way of the City of Cape Girardeau, Mo.

In pursuance of a call the citizens of the city of Cape Girardeau met on Saturday evening, 17th inst., whereupon Geo. H Greene was called to the chair, and Edward D. Engelmann was appointed Secretary. After the object of the meeting was explained by Judge Greene, on motion of Geo. H Cramer, a committee of seven, consisting of Geo. H Cramer, Patrick Gilroy, Robert Sturdivant, Charles A. Davis, Christian Kage, A.B. Dorman and Julius Vasterling, was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of said meeting, who, after a short retirement, reported the following resolutions, viz:

Whereas, The project of extending the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad southward is again being agitated; and whereas, various plans and routes are proposed by, and over which said road may be extended; and whereas, the interest of the whole state as well as the country to be traversed will be eminently promoted.

Resolved, That we have had the route from Pilot Knob to the City of Cape Girardeau surveyed by a practical and competent civil engineer, and we recommend that route to a point on the Mississippi river, opposite Columbus, Ky., as the most practicable — the cheapest, shortest and most profitable of any of the routes now discussed.

Resolved, That the Corporators and Stockholders in the Pilot Knob and Cape Girardeau railroad company are urged to hold themselves in readiness to co-operate with all legitimate authorities employed in the extension of said Iron Mountain Railroad on the route here recommended.

Resolved, That we feel ourselves authorized to pledge a subscription which can be realized of one million of dollars, to be applied to the extension of said road to the City of Cape Girardeau, and a liberal subscription along the route from this city to Columbus.

Resolved, That as we were the first to create the extension of the said road, and formed a corporation, and raised a subscription of over $600,000 for that purpose before the war, we are determined to be the last in the struggle for the running of said road by the City of Cape Girardeau.

Resolved, That if energy, co-operation, honest dealing and money can procure the building of said road by the City of Cape Girardeau, we will accomplish the work.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the Mayor of the City of Columbus, Ky., the President of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, the Governor of the State, and to our Representatives in the Legislature, and that the same be published in the St. Louis Democrat, Missouri Republican, Southeast Radical and Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus.

On motion of James McWilliams, the resolutions were adopted seriatim, without a dissenting voice, and amidst great enthusiasm.

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January 11 and 18, 1866: Loyalty oaths, and anti-suffrage sentiment

The Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus of January 11 and 18th both had some items of interest. Firstly, as we’ve seen, though the paper is strongly Unionist, the editorial policy favors union (and restoration of the status of the seceded states) with no rights for the former slaves beyond their freedom. So in the January 11 issue, we see a couple of items simply ridiculing any consideration to black Americans as citizens, or (heaven forfend) “ladies”. To set black suffrage as a condition for readmission of the southern states is to be the “Disunion Party”. And the Union League is excoriated for being too supportive of blacks, in language that was then merely coarse, but is now quite offensive. On the 18th, two proposed amendments to the Missouri Constitution are mentioned without comment — one to relax the loyalty oath, and one to enfranchise blacks.

The Senate of Louisiana received a communication from “loyal ladies” who wished to present them with a flag. The Senators gravely resolved to accept it, and appointed the hour for speech-making, &c. Before the time arrived, it was discovered that they were “colored ladies”, whereupon the Louisiana Senate promptly declined the intended honor.

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The Disunion Party

The Anti-Slavery Standard, in commenting on the policy of the President, says:
“His purpose, however, remains unchanged, and every desperate expedient he clutches at only shows how resolute he is to save his own scheme though he destroy the nation in the attempt.

That purpose we believe may be stated in a sentence: To bring back the States without Negro Suffrage. To that the President makes everything else bend. – We, therefore, on the other hand, demand that everything shall bend to the purpose of keeping them out until Negro Suffrage is secured.”

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Short Catechism of the Union League

It is supposed that no one can enter he inner door of the League room without being able to answer the following questions, in the language given below. It is a dark chamber; dark business; all about the darkie — all is silent as the grave.

The G.D.U.S.C.M.P. breaks the spell by addressing the noviciate thus:

For what purpose are you here?

Answer. To worship the niggers.

2nd Who are the niggers?

Ans. The superior race of mankind. The most exalted, wise, lovely, sweet scented, and beautiful people of the earth.

3d. For whom was this world made?

For niggers.

4th. Can you give me the origin of this beautiful race?

They had no beginning — existed from eternity. They were present when the world was created, and first suggested the origin of the white trash.

5th. What is the chief end of white men?

To glorify, worship and honor niggers.

6th. For what was the revolution fought?

For the nigger.

7th. What was the object of the Federal Constitution?

For the black race.

8th. What is the most important country of the world?

Africa.

9th. What race of mankind is the most enlightened?

The African. They built the pyramids, wrote the scriptures, built the tower of Babel, founded Troy, invented the telegraph, railroads, whipped the rebels, defeated the Declaration of Independence, and broke up the Federal Union.

Response — All hail, Afreeka.

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Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus 1/18/1866:

Missouri Legislature
Several amendments to the Constitution have been introduced into this body, two of which seem to find considerable favor there – the striking out of the clause against preachers, teachers, and lawyers, and giving negroes the right of suffrage after 1876.

Posted in Franchise, Freedmen, Loyalty oath, Missouri, Suffrage | Leave a comment

December 21, 1865: A little of this and that.

Woman walking on frozen Mississippi
Woman on the ice at St. Louis, 1905

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A variety of items from the Dec. 21, 1865 Cape Girardeau Weekly Argus.

First, a note about the ice on the Mississippi breaking up at St. Louis. This may sound strange to us, but the Mississippi at St. Louis froze completely 10 times between 1831 and 1938. The Alton Dam above St. Louis now stops ice from coming downstream to form a full blockage, though with warming temperatures it’s pretty unlikely it would anyway.

Next, several states defeated moves to enfranchise black citizens, with the exception of Iowa.

A long article protests that the Republicans are “afraid of the people”, as various Reconstruction measures disenfranchise or bypass Confederate sympathizers. These measures disproportionately favored Republicans at the polls.

Finally, a snarky note about Massachusetts women shipped to Washington as brides. This did indeed happen, and it reminded me of that late 60s TV show “Here Come the Brides“. I’m pretty sure I could sing bits of the theme song even now, which just goes to show you what crap we can waste brain cells on. The writer seems to think that sending adult women to the other side of the country voluntarily to seek husbands is the equivalent of selling children away from their parents.

Great Destruction of Property

On Sunday at about three o’clock P.M., the ice gave way at St. Louis, and broke about twenty steamboats from their moorings, sinking two outright, and badly damaging many others. – The loss is estimated at a quarter of a million dollars. Some three hundred people were on the ice when it commenced moving, none of whom were drowned.

At Crawford’s Bar, fifteen miles above here, a number of boats are aground, and the river has fallen so as to leave one or more boats high and dry on a sand bar.

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The people of Minnesota have voted down negro suffrage by a majority of 2,500; Wisconsin ditto by a majority of 8,000; Connecticut ditto by a majority of 6,000; Colorado by a vote of ten to one. The only State which has sustained negro suffrage is Iowa.

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Why is it?

Why is it that the New Constitution partisans have such a horror of the people? Can any one tell us? Their cowardly distrust of the people is a feature that runs through their whole career. They can’t disguise, nor conceal it. It crops out every day.

When Judge Clover framed his famous, or rather infamous Vacating Ordinance, turning eight hundred faithful incumbents out of office, he didn’t provide that the vacancies should be filled in the usual manner, by a popular election. He provided for filling them by appointment of the Governor.

The New Constitution provides for the two new Judges of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. How are they to be obtained? By an election by the people? No. But by the appointment of the Governor.

The Registry Bill provides for about one thousand Registrars in the State, who are to pass upon the qualifications of voters. They are not to be chosen by the people, but are to be appointed by the Governor.

The new Police Bill for St. Louis county provides for four Police Commissioners, vested with the extraordinary powers of taxing the people $325,000; of superintending all elections in the county, and of calling out the militia. Surely, in consideration of their paying the cost of these expensive functionaries, the people are permitted to choose them. Not at all. The commissioners are to be appointed by the Governor.

Thus, in all their measures, the New Constitution statesmen exhibit the same pusillanimous distrust of the people. Why is this? Why do they divest the masses of their ancient privilege of electing their own officers, and give the appointment of those officers to the Executive of the State? It is no answer to these questions that they are afraid of rebel votes; for their own beloved Constitution has disfranchised rebels. According to their own admissions, only loyal men are permitted to vote in Missouri.

The fact is the New Constitution partisans are afraid of loyal men. Indeed, they are afraid to trust their own party. — [St. Louis Dispatch

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The Chicago Times, alluding to the ship load of New England females about to sail for the pacific coast as emigrants gives the anti-slavery howlers the following dig in the ribs:

“The tears which have been shed in the North over the sundering of negro families, is sufficient to furnish perpetual water power, if collected, for the manufactories of all Massachusetts. Necessity, like a brutal slave-owner, has seized upon several hundred lovely young ladies of the Bay State, has torn them from their families, and will send them to the highest bidders in Washington Territory, thousands of miles away. Who will weep over this rude violation of the family circle? No one. Philanthropy gazes complacently on the transaction, and says nothing, because the matter has no vote.”

Posted in Democrats, Franchise, Freedmen, Missouri, Republican, Washington | Leave a comment

December 14, 1865: Proposed civil rights law

Henry Wilson
Henry Wilson of Massachusetts

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The 13th amendment now being ratified, senators debate a proposal to make the freedom of black Americans meaningful by providing protection for their rights. It doesn’t get far.


SECURITY FOR FREEDOM.

Mr. WILSON, of Massachusetts, (Union,) called up a bill to maintain the freedom of the inhabitants of the States declared to be in insurrection and rebellion by the proclamation of the President, of the 1st of July, 1862. It declares all laws heretofore in force, or held valid in the insurrectionary States, whereby any inequality of civil rights and immunities exists among the inhabitants of these States, on account of race or color, are null and void.

Mr. WILSON explained the nature of the bill. He said the proclamation of the President of the 22d of September, 1863, declaring emancipation, pledges the faith of the Government of the United States to maintain the freedom of the persons declared to be free. This was repealed in the proclamation of the 1st of January. It was, therefore, the duty of the government to maintain the civil rights and immunities of these freedmen. The most cold-blooded atrocities were being perpetrated upon these freedmen, and it was the duty of Congress to interfere at once. Whatever differences of opinion there might be on the subject of negro suffrage, there ought to be none in regard to the duty of making good the guarantees of the government.

Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland, (Dem.,) said there were serious legal objections to the bill under consideration. It did not name any bills or laws, but all laws of a certain character. Besides it only repealed all laws already made. But, if the Southern States are in the Union, they have a right to make police laws for the future. He had never believed that the Southern States were out of the Union, and he was glad to see in President JOHNSON’s Message, which was one of the ablest ever issued, a concurrence in this view. The people of the Southern States were now as anxious to return as they once were to leave the Union. He believed there was as much philanthropy in the South as in the North, and he was sorry to see the impression sought to be created, that the people of the South were barbarous.

Mr. COWAN, of Pennsylvania, (Union,) did not believe the bill would accomplish what its author desired. He thought as amendment to the Constitution was the only way to reach the matter, and he believed such an amendment would pass in Congress within a month.

Mr. WILSON referred to certain laws passed in the Southern States since the abolition of slavery, which, he said, subjected the freedmen to a worse bondage than slavery itself. The condition of the freedmen of the South was worse to-day than it was on the day of LEE’s surrender.

Mr. SHERMAN, of Ohio, (Union,) sympathized with the objects of the bill. He believed it to be the duty of Congress to secure freedom to the emancipated slaves; but he believed such legislation ought to be postponed until the proclamation of the Secretary of State, announcing the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment by the requisite number of States. Congress had the power, he said, under the second section of the Amendment, to make provision for the freedom of the blacks, and there was another section of the Constitution under which it could be done; that section which gives to the citizens of one State all the rights of the citizens of the several States. The bill before the Senate did not define the civil rights which the negroes ought to have, but stated them in general terms. In his judgment Congress ought to impose the conditions upon which the Southern States should be received back into the Union, and they ought to be in the form of amendments to the constitution. Action on the bill before the Senate ought to be deferred until the report of the committee of fifteen provided for by the concurrent resolution passed yesterday.

Mr. SAULSBURY, of Deleware, (Dem.,) said that when the Constitutional Amendment was before the Senate, no Senators claimed the right under the second section to give to the government the powers of a consolidated government.

Mr. TRUMBULL, of Illinois, (Union,) thought the bill was premature in the sense stated by Mr. SHERMAN. There was yet no official information of the passage of the Constitutional Amendment, and until the adoption of that amendment there might be some doubt as to the power of Congress to do what was proposed. After the adoption of the amendment there could be no doubt as to the power of Congress. If the second section did not confer this power upon Congress, he would ask the Senator from Delaware for what purpose it was intended.

Mr. SAULSBURY — I do not know what it meant. I had nothing to do with it; but I would ask the honorable Senator whether, when it was before this body for adoption, he avowed in his advocacy of it that it was meant for such purpose as now claimed?

Mr. TRUMBULL — Mr. President, I never understood it in any other way.

Mr. SAULSBURY — Did you state it so at the time?

Mr. TRUMBULL — I do not know that I stated so. I might as well have explained that the clause which declares that slavery shall not exist, meant that slavery shall not exist. I could make it no clearer. I reported it from the Judiciary Committee, for the very purpose of conferring upon Congress the authority to see that the first clause was carried out in good faith.

Mr. SAULSBURY said he did not see how gentlemen holding that the Southern States are not in the Union can regard the Constitutional Amendment as adopted. It required three-fourths of the States to adopt the amendment, and that number could not be obtained without counting the Southern States.

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