Imágenes de páginas

Mr. Magruder moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the resolution was agreed to, which motion was rejected.

Ordered, That Mr. Banks carry the resolution to the senate and request their concurrence.

A message was received from the senate by Mr. Terry, who informed the house that the senate had agreed to the resolution with an amendment, as follows:

Add at end of resolution the following: "and the said committee also inform Robert E. Withers of his election as lieutenant-governor of the State.”

Which amendment was agreed to.

Mr. Powell moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the amendment was agreed to, which motion was rejected.

Ordered, That Mr. Boykin inform the senate that the house had agreed to the amendment of the senate.

The speaker appointed Messrs. Banks, Anderson and Morrison the committee on the part of the house.

Subsequently the committee, through its chairman, reported that they had discharged the duty imposed under the resolution, and that the governor would communicate to the house in writing.

A message was received from the governor as follows:


EXECUTIVE OFFICE, 1st January, 1874. Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Delegates:

Assuming the executive office at a grave epoch in the history of the State, and invoking the favor of God for the future, I cordially greet you at the beginning of our joint responsibilities and labors.

It is an unusual circumstance, arising from recent changes of law, that the legislature and the executive are now both inaugurated at the same time. My official relations and my access to official sources of information begin as this message is communicated ; and it is not to be expected that the incoming executive, at the moment of installation, should transmit to the general assembly detailed information, with recommendations embracing all the varied interests of the Commonwealth which claim your attention and care. Hereafter, and as occasion shall from time to time require, such further detailed and specific recommendations will be addressed to you, from this office, as shall be deemed useful in facilitating the discharge of your weighty trusts.

You organize at an era which is destined to shape the fortunes of Virginia for generations to come. Before you proceed to exercise the law-making power, it is well that we pause and calmly comprehend the political situation.

The Government of the Races. We have devolved upon us to-day the solution of this great problem : How to make and administer laws so as to secure life, liberty and pro

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

perty, so as to establish enduring peace, order, justice and prosperity, in a community composed of two distinct races, not largely differing in numbers, but dissimilar in training, intelligence, color and other characteristics—races hitherto standing toward each other in the relation of master and slave, but now suddenly and by inviolable organic law clothed with equal rights. Although such a problem has not elsewhere or in any age been peacefully or successfully solved, although our great ancestors recorded their opinions declaring it impossible of solution, yet I do not hesitate to affirm, so encouraging and decisive has been the progress of the last four years, so clearly developed by the past are the obligations of to-day, that if we are but guided by prudence, if we go forward with courage, tempered with forbearance, and if no Federal legislation shall intervene to disturb the relations between the races, we cannot fail to bring our great experiment to a successful and prosperous issue.

One patriotic aim, controlling our counsels and impelling us to avoid the example of extremists of whatever section or class, must always be to establish and perpetuate relations of cordial co-operation and good will between the races; and this is to be accomplished not merely by distributing equal burthens and benefits to each, but by promoting such connections of kindness, confidence and interest between them as will, without impairing or touching the social independence of either, enlist each in increasing the prosperity of the other, and both in advancing a common weal. In this direction instructive and significant progress has been made in Virginia within the last four years. The constitution made it obligatory upon the general assembly to provide for the gradual, equal and full introduction of a uniform system of free schools into all the counties of the State by the year 1876. Our predecessors, undismayed by the impoverished condition of the people, and rejecting all arguments for delay, proceeded in 1870 to organize a comprehensive system of free education, now fully operating throughout the State, which challenges comparison with any organized scheme of public schools elsewhere, under which a sum of money is being annually expended, in impartially educating both races, not far short of the amount required to meet all the other current expenses of the government, and this system has received the deliberate sanction of the white race, who chiefly contribute the means by which it is maintained. As respects all other interests as well as that of education, our people are subject to no State laws except such as provide equally and alike for both races, without a single discrimination. At no time since the people of Virginia resumed the control of their domestic affairs, has the interposition of the Federal government been occasioned upon any complaint or pretext of injustice or inequality in their code of laws, or in its application and enforcement between the races. Nor has our past policy of according equal justice and benefits to both races been wanting in beneficent results. Recent events prove how futile, and how disastrous to its authors, must be any future attempt to array the colored race as a political combination upon any principle of antagonism between the races. All such attempted combinations of the past are dissolved and dispersed, and we are afforded a golden opportunity for settling forever the internal jealousies and dissensions which have hindered our material progress, and for completing the pacification of all the elements of the body politic. It devolves upon the white race now to consummate such settlement and pacification. In view of their acknowledged superiority in education and intelligence, as well as in numbers, their dominance in every department of the public service, their ownership of the great mass of taxable property, it would bring lasting opprobrium upon them if, while local self-government continues unimpaired, they should permit the existence of any pretext upon which adventurers might, by fomenting discord between the races, distract the peace and retard the progress of the State, or upon which any Federal legislation or intervention whatever might be invoked to the inevitable disturbance of internal tranquility. Non-residents, whatever their claims to eminence, ability or philanthropy, can never understand the character and circumstances, or wisely administer to the wants of our colored population. Ourselves and no others are qualified to perform the task assigned us by Providence. If not restrained and thwarted by superior power, we will perform it resolutely and effectually by promoting the best interests of both races. We intend to perform it by scrupulously guarding the newlyacquired rights of the colored man; by affording him liberal facilities for education, and inciting him to use them ; by developing his best qualities and capacities, and interesting him in the preservation of order and the enforcement of justice; by shielding him against devices of the vicious and thriftless; by habitually according him the kindness, forbearance and sympathy which his comparative dependence and weakness invite, and by cultivating such relations of active co-operation and mutual trust and common interest between the races as will combine both in recovering the general prosperity, and make each an indispensable instrumentality for that end.


The two great material wants of Virginia are immigration and capital, and the influx of both has been retarded by extraordinary misconstruction abroad as to the sentiments and situation of our people. A leading desire with us, and a necessary condition precedent to our material recovery, is a lasting reconciliation and the return of complete normal relations between ourselves, on the one hand, and the people of all the other States and the government of the United States on the other. We earnestly seek to seeure those relations upon the only steadfast and sure basis of equality of rights and benefits and mutuality of confidence and respect between all the members of the Union. The highest interests of the whole country demand for us the speedy establishment of such relations: for as our welfare for the future is bound up in that of the United States, so the prosperity of the whole depends upon the well-being of each of its constituent parts. The body of the Union cannot have health so long as any member suffers. As the revival of our material interests concerns the whole Union, so do the

[graphic][merged small]



recognition, and preservation, in the future, of the just pride, selfrespect and integrity of our people; for States decay and men degenerate with the loss of independence of thought and pride of character. Whether posterity shall adjudge us to have been right or wrong in the opinions which engaged us in war, yet if, as history teaches, the noble virtues of fortitude and courage belong to no people capable of dissimulation and treachery; if the voluntary endurance of a four years' ordeal of heroic suffering and sacrifice be proof of devotion and a spirit of honor, then the record of Virginia entitles her to the respect of mankind. Reluctant and slow to draw the sword, Virginia furnished for four years the chief theatre for the most sanguinary and devastating civil war which the modern history of the world records, and her bosom bore the deepest wounds its blows inflicted. With the dismemberment of her territory, the vast destruction of public and private property and other greater losses within her borders, her hereditary system of labor, her social polity, her banking capital and circulating medium were annihilated at a blow. As the conflict of arms closed, her sons returned to the ruins which were once their homes, and then and since have applied themselves to the pursuits of peace with industry, prudence and order such as are not paralleled in any history of periods next succeeding similar wars. In no instance has turbulence or commotion or any combination against public authority had organized existence among our people. Neither cherishing resentments nor repining over the irrevocable past; abating no jot of self-respect; yielding to no act of self-abasement; recognizing the indissoluble bond by which the destinies of Virginia are bound up with those of the Republic; they have with true and brave hearts and with uplifted brows sworn their fidelity to the restored Union; they have sternly accommodated themselves to their altered political relations, and have striven to bring order out of chaos and weal out of ruin by the faithful performance of every obligation. It is with the confidence which conscious self-respect inspires, it is in the spirit that becomes men, that we boldly claim reciprocity of respect and respectful good will between our fellowcitizens of the North and ourselves. What we want is peace with honor: not the name and forms, but the living realities of peace. It is cause for congratulation that, in every section of the country, the passions engendered by war have seemed to be passing away; and it is not to be doubted that, sooner or later, heroic deeds and qualities, on whatever side of the conflict or by whomsoever achieved and illustrated, will be preserved by the whole Republic as memorials of a common glory.

With a government of equal laws and with order and tranquility firmly established within our borders, with ardent desires for universal reconciliation, with hopeful auguries for the future, we invite immigrants from whatever section of our common country and of whatever nationality to cast their fortunes with ours. Let the living tides of immigration come. We vouch to all a cordial welcome and ample guarantees for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, whatever their political or religious affiliations of the past, present or future.


The natural advantages and resources of our State speak for themselves. For variety and fertility of soils, for diversity and peculiar value of agricultural productions, for salubrity and mildness of a climate exempt equally from the rigors and diseases prevalent in many northern, southern and western sections, for vast, various and easily accessible mineral wealth, for superiority and abundance of water-power and other requisites for unlimited manufacturing enterprises, for number, volume and depth of navigable rivers and excellence of ports and harbors, for all natural facilities for the development of internal and foreign commerce and material prosperity and power, Virginia may safely challenge, not only examination, but comparison with any other equal area on the earth's surface.

The duties imposed upon us in the existing crisis, involving the reconstruction of the foundations of society, impel us to be guided by higher considerations than ordinarily control political party organizations. Of the people who confided to us our present trusts, a great majority is not identified with any existing national political party; and although they were formerly divided among opposing parties, they now stand united upon common Conservative principles. Adhering to those principles, Virginia seeks these ends :—to secure and maintain her full constitutional rights and relations, and to perform all her constitutional duties, as one of the co-equal members of the union; to exercise all rightful powers of self-government and to determine, adjust and regulate the internal, domestic and municipal interests of her people, their relations and rights, including such as are known as civil rights, in strict conformity to the Federal constitution and the late decision of the Supreme Court of the United States expounding recent amendments thereto, and the respective powers of the Federal and State governments thereunder; to obtain an equitable settlement of her just claims against the common government; to promote universal reconciliation upon the basis of equal justice to all the States and people; to cultivate harmonious relations with the common government, and to yield a liberal support to every department thereof co-operating in the accomplishment of the ends thus sought. Virginia, recognizing no such obligations as bind her to any national party organization, maintaining her fidelity to all who are and who shall become allies in the defence of measures calculated to secure the ends named, is ready to co-operate cordially with men of whatever party in upholding those measures, by whomsoever proposed, -supporting those who support them, and opposing all opposition to them. One of the articles, announcing the principles and purposes recently ratified by an overwhelming majority of our people, declares that, disclaiming all purpose of captious hostility to the present executive head of the Federal government, “we will judge him impartially by his official action, and will co-operate in every measure of his administration which may be beneficent in design and calculated to promote the welfare of the people

« AnteriorContinuar »