Presidential Speeches

May 14, 1869: Message Submitting State Constitutions to a Vote

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Ulysses S. Grant

May 14, 1869

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President Grant's proclamation submits the new Virginia state constitution for ratification by the citizens of Virginia. Two sections of the constitution are submitted to a separate vote. In July of the same year, President Grant will issue a similar proclamation for the State of Mississippi (Proclamation 184).

Presidential Speeches |

May 14, 1869: Message Submitting State Constitutions to a Vote


By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
In pursuance of the provisions of the act of Congress approved April 10, 1869, I hereby designate the 6th day of July, 1869, as the time for submitting the constitution passed by the convention which met in Richmond, Va., on Tuesday, the 3d day of December, 1867, to the voters of said State registered at the date of such submission, viz, July 6, 1869, for ratification or rejection.
And I submit to a separate vote the fourth clause of section 1 of article 3 of said constitution, which is in the following words:
Every person who has been a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President or Vice-President or who held any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. This clause shall include the following officers: Governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, auditor of public accounts, second auditor, register of the land office, State treasurer, attorney-general, sheriffs, sergeant of a city or town, commissioner of the revenue, county surveyors, constables, overseers of the poor, commissioner of the hoard of public works, judges of the supreme court, judges of the circuit court, judges of the court of hustings, justices of the county courts, mayor, recorder, alderman, councilmen of a city or town, coroners, escheators, inspectors of tobacco, flour, etc., clerks of the supreme, district, circuit, and county courts and of the court of hustings, and attorneys for the Commonwealth: Provided, That the legislature may, by a vote of three-fifths of both houses, remove the disabilities incurred by this clause from any person included therein, by a separate vote in each case.
And I also submit to a separate vote the seventh section of article 3 of the said constitution, which is in the words following:
In addition to the foregoing oath of office, the governor, lieutenant-governor, members of the general assembly, secretary of state, auditor of public accounts, State treasurer, attorney-general, and all persons elected to any convention to frame a constitution for this State or to amend or revise this constitution in any manner, and mayor and council of any city or town, shall, before they enter on the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation: Provided, The disabilities therein contained may be individually removed by a three-fifths vote of the general assembly:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have never sought nor accepted nor attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatever under any authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States; that I have not yielded a voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, power, or constitution within the United States hostile or inimical thereto. And I do further swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
The above oath shall also be taken by all the city and county officers before entering upon their duties, and by all other State officers not included in the above provision. I direct the vote to be taken upon each of the above-cited provisions alone, and upon the other portions of the said constitution in the following manner, viz:
Each voter favoring the ratification of the constitution (excluding the provisions above quoted) as framed by the convention of December 3, 1867, shall express his judgment by voting for the constitution.
Each voter favoring the rejection of the constitution (excluding the provisions above quoted) shall express his judgment by voting against the constitution,
Each voter will be allowed to cast a separate ballot for or against either or both of the provisions above quoted.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 14th day of May, A. D. 1869, and of the Independence of the United States of America the ninety-third.
By the President:
HAMILTON FISH, Secretary of State.