Waddell's Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871


CHAPTER XXV.

RECONSTRUCTION—1865-’71.

At the close of 1865, our people flattered themselves that they would be left to attend to their own affairs, under the Constitution of the United States, without further molestation. They had in good faith “accepted the situation,” and had no thought of future resistance to Federal authority. We shall see how far they were disappointed.

Congress and the Legislature met in December, on the same day. Mr. Stuart could not take the prescribed oath, and he and all Southern men were excluded from the halls of Congress. This was a strange spectacle. The war was waged for four years to compel the Southern people to return to the Union, and now their representatives, although prepared to swear allegiance, were denied all participation in the government. For four years more Virginia had no representative in Congress.

The Legislature, however, proceeded comparatively untrammeled. John B. Baldwin, of Augusta, was elected speaker of the House of Delegates, and his influence was commanding and most salutary. There was little in the proceedings of the Legislature during either session—the winters of 1865-’6 and 1866-’7 which has a place in these Annals. Some of the business was of general importance, and much of it was merely routine. Federal politics were avoided as far as possible. Many acts of incorporation were passed, and amongst them one for chartering the Valley Railroad Company.

Under the Alexandria Constitution, “so called,” judges of the higher courts were nominated by the Governor, and ratified or rejected by the Legislature. The Court of Appeals consisted of three judges, and the counties were arranged in circuits, as previously. In February, 1856, Judge Lucas P. Thompson, of the Augusta Circuit Court, was nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature as one of the judges of the Court of Appeals. His health, however, was then declining, and he died in the following April, without having taken his seat on the bench of the highest court. In like manner, Hugh W. Sheffey, of Staunton, became the Judge of the Circuit court of Augusta and other counties.


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