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Conclusions, Majority Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, U.S. Congress, June 16, 1866

Legislative Iconic image, U.S. Capitol, 2008
In December 1865, the Republican caucus in Congress had caused the setting up of a Joint Committee on Reconstruction, consisting of six representatives and six senators, with Democratic representation. The main charge to the group was to gauge "the condition" of the former Confederate states and to determine whether, and under what conditions those states "are entitled to be represented in either house of Congress...". No representation from the South was even to be considered until the joint committee reported. The long report finally emerged and considered extensive evidence from the South of the political situation there. The conclusions of the majority of the committee are reproduced here and they are unequivocal in their opinion that the South, responsible for dire treason that they never repudiated until all their forces had been defeated at the cost of a quarter of a million loyal lives, would have to earn the trust of the Congress before having their members represented. The majority report stressed that the Congress alone had the constitutional duty to determine its own membership, counter to the current desires of the Executive. The submission recommended that only a reformation of the laws of equitable representation would create the conditions for "adequate security for future peace and safety" and included with its report a strong recommendation and several bills in support of a further Constitutional Amendment to bring this about. A Minority Report was also submitted, signed by three Democratic members. (By John Osborne)