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M’GOWAN
Harper's Weekly, October 28, 1865, page 674 (Editorial)
We observe that General Samuel M’Gowan offers himself as a candidate for Congress in the Third District of South Carolina, and has issued an address which is held to be the chief exposition of the views of those who are aspiring to control that State. General M’Gowan was a conspicuous rebel soldier. He has committed the highest offense known to the Constitution, and by the laws of the land his life is forfeit as a traitor. It is therefore interesting to remark the words and tone of his address, from which we make the following extracts:
"Relying upon the good faith and patriotic intentions of the President of the United States, we have done all that was required of us to restore our old relations to the Constitution and the Union; but still we have not been received into fellowship at Washington. That important part of the plan of reconstruction remains yet to be accomplished. It is understood that a party will oppose the President’s plan of reorganizing the States and giving to them equality of rights, and will insist upon still farther despoiling and crushing the States or the South as conquered provinces. This radical fanatical party opposed our leaving the Union, and now they oppose our returning to it. When we were in the Union they abused us on account of slavery. They waged war upon us because we tried to separate from them, and now that we propose to return without slavery they still object.

* * * * *

"In some respects we are at the beginning of our policy, as if we were a new State about to assume new relations with our sister States; but we must never allow ourselves to forget that in other respects we are an old State—a State having antecedents, a name to maintain, and a history to preserve. Whatever may betide us in the uncertain future, the past, at least, is secure. South Carolina has never swerved from the path of honor, as she conceived it. We have a record of which none need be ashamed; and when any apostate son of hers disclaims or disparages it may she cast him out as unworthy of her. The devotion of every true son of the State adheres in adversity as well as in prosperity—is loyal through evil as well as through good report; and in the midst of the greatest misfortunes 'sticketh closer than a brother.'

* * * * *

"It may not be improper in this connection to say that, while I have approved the course of the State in seeking to restore her old relations with the Government of the United States, it has been upon the faith and expectation that the State, as soon as reconstructed, is to have entire control of the whole subject of her domestic affairs. The State, and the State alone, must be left to decide to whom she will give the right of suffrage or other political rights. A new code noir must be enacted to protect and govern the population lately made free—to prevent idleness, vagrancy, pauperism, and crime. I am not prophet enough to foresee whether we can succeed; but I solemnly believe it will be impossible to live in the country at all unless the State has exclusive control of the whole subject. I have hope that this will be permitted, and I think it is in accordance with our interests and true policy to sustain the President and the Democratic party in their efforts to restore the States to their position of equality, and to give them equal rights in the Government."
In other words, General Samuel M’Gowan consents to a renewal by the imperial sovereignty of South Carolina of her old relations with the Government of the United States, provided that he is not mistaken in the good faith of the President. He alludes to the time when the sovereign State was in the Union and to the war waged against it, and has grave doubts whether he can continue to live in the country unless the State, which has never swerved from the path of honor, is left to do exactly as she pleases.
These are undoubtedly his sincere sentiments. We do not question them. We have never doubted that his State really believed the doctrine of supreme State sovereignty. But are these the views of a man who ought to be at this juncture a legislator for the United States? Would General M’Gowan oppose a tax to pay for "the war waged upon us" just as sincerely as he engaged in the war?
Is there any thing in the assumptions and implications of his address which Mr. Calhoun would not have heartily approved? Of course he is aware that by the law of Congress he is incompetent to a seat, even if elected. But does he also know that President Johnson, while announcing that Congress is the judge of the qualifications of its members, has also said that he hopes no men will be elected who can not conform to the requirements of that law? Does General M’Gowan, or do his constituents at the South or allies at the North, suppose that we have fought this war to its issue in order to bring back Jefferson Davis, John Slidell, and James Mason, or their political opinions and purposes, into the Congress of the United States?
Harper's Weekly, October 28, 1865, page 674 (Editorial)

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