The Richmond History Podcast

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Virginia is readmitted to the Union

Virginia in 1850, Library of Virginia
On January 26, 1870 Virginia was readmitted to the Union1 after has paying a huge price for choosing the wrong side in the American Civil War 1when they became the 8th State to join the Confederacy April 17, 1861.  2  That price included huge numbers of lost lives and resources and the lose of the 24,231 square miles that is now West Virginia. 4

General John M. Schofield,7
Per the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, the south was divided into five military districts. 5 Virginia was designated as Military District Number One, under the appointed commander, General John M. Schofield. 3
To be readmitted, states had to have a new constitution that provided for universal manhood suffrage and had to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, which made former slaves citizens and and prohibited states from denying equal rights to any person. 5

That allowed Virginia's African-Americans to vote for the first time on Oct 22, 1867, casting ballot for delegates to a constitutional convention in which about two dozen African American men were elected.  The delegates met from December 3, 1867-April 17, 1868,3 but General Schofield didn't allow the required referendum on the constitution to take place because it disenfranchised many former Confederates and altered the format of local governance. 3

By the summer of 1868 seven of the eleven former Confederate states had met the requirements for statehood and had been readmitted to the Union.5

The Virginia constitution finally went to voters on July 6, 1869, and was passed.  The provision to disenfranchise former Confederates was submitted to voters separately and was defeated. On October 8, 1869, Virginia voted to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Then on January 26, 1870 President Ulysses S. Grant signed the act readmitting Virginia to the Union and its representatives into Congress ending the era of Reconstruction in Virginia 2 and making Virginia the 8th state readmitted into the Union.1

In the next 6 months the remaining three states—Mississippi (Feb 23), Texas (March 30), and Georgia (July 15) were readmitted as well. 1


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