Introduction to "The Reconstruction Convention Simulation".

The cast of characters attending the convention.

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Harper's Weekly, October 14, 1865, page 642 (Editorial)
The South Carolina Convention has also agreed upon its offer and adjourned. As we showed last week, the key-note for its deliberations, struck by the Provisional Governor Perry, was the Dred Scott decision.
The Convention repealed the ordinance of secession by a vote of 105 to 3. It declared by 98 to 8 that as slavery had been abolished by the action of the United States authorities it should never be re-established in the State, and directed a commission to submit a code to the Legislature for the protection of the colored population. It popularized some of the former purely aristocratic provisions of the Constitution; resolved that the white population only should be the basis of representation; and appointed a committee to go to Washington and intercede for Jefferson Davis, Mr. Macrath, and Mr. Trenholm. So far as appears it did not repudiate the rebel debt nor provide for a popular ratification of its action.
The South Carolina Convention, by merely repealing the act of secession neither denies the right of secession nor the authority of the Convention of 1860. It simply declares that it is now expedient to reconsider and reverse a legitimate action. It repeals the ordinance as a legislature repeals a law which it was perfectly competent to pass. It will not, however, be forgotten that the act of nullification in 1833 was "repealed;" but the repeal did not prevent the ordinance of secession in 1860. It was not meant to do so. South Carolina then reserved her right to nullify as she now reserves her right to secede. In the present Convention Mr. Hammond, son of the late Senator, offered the opportunity of renouncing the ground upon which the rebellion was justified by proposing a series of resolutions, one of which expressly acknowledge that "sovereignty, a unit, absolute and indivisible, which in all nations must exist somewhere, resides in the American people, and its authorized representative, within the limits of the organic law—the Constitution—is the Federal Government." The resolution went to the committee and did not return.
Like the Alabama Convention, that of South Carolina declared all political power to be inherent in the people, and then based the Government upon a minority of the population. The spirit of the Convention may be inferred from the speeches and Message of Governor Perry and the remarks made by the leading members, as well as by its authentic acts. Even that part of the population which is declared to be vested with political power is not allowed to pronounce upon the proposed Constitution.
Is this an "acceptance of the results of the war?" Is there any evidence here that South Carolina, formally or informally, verbally or inferentially, renounces the theory which has distracted this country for more than a generation and finally culminated in terrible civil war? Does she take the least pledge not to renew that attempt; and however futile the supposition of a renewal may now seem, is it not for that reason all the more important that at this time all shadow of legal pretense for secession shall be utterly removed? Shall not the people of the United States—and not a certain class in South Carolina—who are now to decide this question, decide plainly and indisputably and forever, that while the right of revolution for hopeless oppression can never be renounced, the right of secession and State sovereignty are fictions too monstrous and perilous to be openly or covertly tolerated for an instant?
It is not an unkind humiliation of those who have been baffled in the most strenuous effort to destroy the Government under the plea of a reserved Constitutional right, to require that they shall at least solemnly renounce that plea before they are admitted to an equal share in the Government. It is not an unwise nor unconstitutional exercise of power to refuse to recognize as republican a political system which puts every political and personal right of a majority of the population at the mercy of a contemptuous minority. It is not ungenerous to insist that the condition of the return of the bitterest enemies of the Union to a voice in its government shall not be the proscription and oppression of its most faithful friends.
Nor is there any question of authority in the case. Either South Carolina as a State of the Union has the right to refuse to make any change whatever in her Constitution, and to claim the recognition of her Senators and Representatives in Congress exactly as those of New York are recognized, or the United States have the right to insist upon such conditions of her return as good sense and experience may suggest. South Carolina, by the assembling and action of her Convention under the authority of the United States, has already yielded her claim. She acknowledges the authority of the United States to dictate the terms of her return. Let the United States not mistake weakness for generosity, nor expect a harvest of palms if they allow dragon’s teeth to be sown.
Harper's Weekly, October 14, 1865, page 642 (Editorial)

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