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HENRY STANBERY - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 03/22/1867 - HFSID 291600

HENRY STANBERY The Attorney General declines a request from Louisiana Lt. Governor Voorhies for an opinion on recent Reconstruction legislation. President Johnson and Congress were locked in a fierce battle over how to govern the defeated South. Voorhies would later call the law "unconstitutional, revolutionary and void.

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HENRY STANBERY
The Attorney General declines a request from Louisiana Lt. Governor Voorhies for an opinion on recent Reconstruction legislation. President Johnson and Congress were locked in a fierce battle over how to govern the defeated South. Voorhies would later call the law "unconstitutional, revolutionary and void." Stanbery probably agreed, but could not say so on the record.
Autograph Letter signed: "Henry Stanbery" as Attorney General, 1 page, 7¾x9¾ folded, 15½x9¾ open flat. Washington, D.C., 1867 March 22. On official letterhead to Albert Voorhies, Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana. Docketed on integral leaf. In full: "I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 12th propounding certain questions for my opinion, arising under the recent Act of Congress 'for the more efficient government of the Rebel States.' I feel myself obliged to decline your request. I beg to refer you to the enclosed printed circular, which sets forth the grounds upon which my official action must be based. [Item not included.] You will see, I trust, that with every disposition to oblige you, I am constrained to be silent. I am, with great respect your". Henry Stanbery (1803-1881) was the first Attorney General of Ohio, when the State created that office in 1846. Appointed by President Andrew Johnson as US Attorney General in 1866, he resigned in 1868 in order to conduct Johnson's (narrowly successful) defense in his impeachment trial. Johnson later nominated Stanbery for the US Supreme Court, but the Senate refused to confirm the nomination. When Stanbery wrote this letter, President Johnson was locked in battle with Congress, where the Radical Republicans enacted the First Reconstruction Act of 1867. This law overturned Johnson's arrangements for governance of the Southern states, creating an administration through five military districts and requiring that new constitutions in the region adopt universal manhood suffrage (including recently freed slaves). Albert Voorhies, appointed by President Lincoln in 1864 as Lieutenant Governor of Union-occupied Louisiana, was about to be replaced by a more Radical Republican acceptable to Congress. In a speech the following year (reported in the New York Times on September 28, 1868), Voorhies made clear his own view of Reconstruction legislation. In a speech at a Democratic campaign rally, he quoted approvingly the national platform of the Democratic Party: "We regard the Reconstruction Acts of Congress, so-called, as usurpations, violations, unconstitutional, revolutionary and void." (Voorhies went on to caution his audience against using violence against the reconstituted Reconstruction government of the state, because the resulting publicity would harm prospects for recapturing the White House in the coming election. A fascinating document of post-Civil War history. Lightly creased. Multiple mailing folds. Otherwise, fine condition.

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