The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 48
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
safeguard for the protection of the loyal voter, white and black."'35
They at once appealed to Congress; but Congress refused to listen.
Completion of the Constitution stirred up renewed interest in
registration, since it appeared likely that the document would
soon be voted upon.86 For various reasons, however, there was
considerable delay and months passed before the State was finally
restored to the Union. This fact left the Commanding General,
rather than the State Government, with the problem of finding
competent officials to fill civil offices. Canby, now in command,
faced a task which was almost insurmountable. He wrote on
January 20, 1869, to Rawlins, Chief of Staff, that ". . . there
are so many vacancies in the subordinate civil offices in this State,
and so much difficulty in filling them with competent persons
. . . that very serious embarrassments exist in the execution
of the duties committed to the district commander." He asked
to be allowed to fill offices under the Fourteenth Amendment,
rather than under the oath of July 2, 1862, and promised he
could get good, loyal persons. He did not think such a policy
would be at all detrimental to the spirit of reconstruction. To
the contrary, "It will enable many competent and efficient men
in whose cases the disability is purely technical, and many others
who had taken an active part in the rebellion, but are now loyal,
to accept offices, and give their active and willing aid in the work-
ing of reconstruction."37 Grant approved, and submitted the
3"Journal (second session), pip. 518ff.
3"The books were opened once more and newly enfranchised persons
were listed. Many of the old problems came up again, as in the case
of one Robert Wagner, of New Ulm, who had accepted a justiceship
of the peace in 1862, in order to prevent a rebel from filling the posi-
tion. Was he indictable for perjury, since he had taken the office
again? Reynolds's acting assistant adjutant general told him: "I
have the honor to inform you, that having taken the Oath of Office,
it would be presumptuous to pronounce you guilty of perjury on your
own Statement. You being the Keeper of your own conscience are best
able to determine as to your guilt or innocence." "Letters Sent."
Vol. 2 for 1869 (IV of series), p. 231. Such a principle amounted
to saying that a man was disfranchised only if he wished to be; it
brings out in bold relief the hair-line decisions that had to be made
when a man's aiid to the rebellion depended upon his purpose or intent,
which no one could probe except the individual concerned. These an-
noying questions vexed the high officials extremely. Finally it was
ordered that such questions ,must be settled by the boards: "The Com-
manding General cannot direct any person to be Registered, or after
being Registered to be stricken from the lists, action upon this matter
resting entirely with the Boards." Ibid., p. 57.
"7House Ex. Doe. 74 (40 Con. 3 ,Sess.).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935, periodical, 1935; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/m1/56/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.