Back to top

The Wade-Davis Manifesto, August 5, 1864

Henry Winter Davis, Brady image, circa 1864, detail
Both houses of Congress had passed the Wade-Davis Bill on July 2, 1864. The measure set down stringent requirements to be met before former Confederate states could rejoin the Union. These included the exclusion of all former Confederates, the requirement for a majority of voters to have taken the oath of loyalty to the United States, and a ban on the continuation of slavery. Far more sweeping than President Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction, he did not sign the bill and published a Proclamation on July 8, 1864, giving his reasons. Notable among these was the assertion that Congress had not the right to outlaw slavery. The enraged Radical Republican response is evident in this document, first published in the New York Tribune on August 5, and then subsequently published in major newspapers across the country (such as this version from the New York Times on August 8). Especially considering that this was a presidential election year, the open rift among Republicans was of grave importance. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "The Wade-Davis Manifesto, August 5, 1864," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,