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  The First-Class Men of Our Town | Proposing Security for the Future
  With the White People, Right or Wrong


 
 

Proposing Security for the Future

Colonel John Singleton Mosby fought for the Confederacy, but he became a supporter of General Ulysses S. Grant and the Republican party after the war. In an interview with the Richmond Enquirer in January 1873, he confirmed his support of Grant and advocated the alliance in order to restore relations between the South and the federal government.

Reporter: I see it stated generally that you have some influence with General Grant -- is this true?

Colonel Mosby: I don't know what amount of influence I may have with the president, but General Grant knows the fiery ordeal I have been through here in supporting him, and I suppose he has some appreciation of it.

Reporter: What is the policy that you have advocated for the Virginia people?

Colonel Mosby: The issues that formerly divided the Virginia people from the Republican party were those growing out of the reconstruction measures. Last year the Virginia people agreed to make no further opposition to those measures and to accept all questions growing out of them as settled. There being no longer any questions, then, on principles separating Virginia people from General Grant, it became a mere matter of policy and expediency whether they would support him or [Liberal Republican party candidate] Horace Greeley. I thought it was the first opportunity the Southern people had had to be restored to their proper relation and influence with the federal administration. In other words, I said the Southern statesmen ought to avail themselves of this opportunity and support General Grant for re-election, and thereby acquire influence and control over his administration. That was the only way I saw of displacing the carpetbag crew that represented the government in the Southern states. I think that events have demonstrated that I was right.

General Grant has certainly accorded to me as much consideration or influence as any one man could have a right to expect. I know it is the disposition of General Grant to do everything in his power for the relief of the Southern people, if Southern politicians will allow him to do it. The men who control the policy of the Conservative party combine with the extreme Radicals to keep the Southern people arrayed against General Grant. As long as this course is pursued, the carpetbag crew who profess to support the administration get all the Federal patronage. This is the sustenance, the support of the carpetbag party in the South. Deprived of that, it would die tomorrow. I admit, as every Southern man must admit, the gross wrongs that have been perpetrated upon the Southern people. I am no apologist for them, but neither party proposes any atonement or indemnity for the past. I propose at least to give security for the future by an alliance between the Southern people and General Grant's administration....

Reporter: Has the president ever tendered you any position under his administration?

Colonel Mosby: Shortly after the presidential election the president said something to me on the subject of giving me an office. I told him while I would as lief hold an office under him as under any other man who had ever been president, yet there was no office within his gift that I desired or would accept. I told him that my motives in supporting him had been assailed, and my accepting a position under his administration would be regarded as a confirmation of the truth of the charge that I was governed by selfish motives. But my principal reason for not accepting anything from him was that I would have far more influence for good by taking nothing for myself....

Reporter: Colonel, I have heard that you are now promoting claims against the Government, --is that a fact?

Colonel Mosby: It is not. I have filed one claim for a citizen before the Southern Claims Commission. I shall turn this over, however, to a claim agent. I have had hundreds of claims of all sorts for prosecution against the Government offered me, but have declined them all, as I have no idea of bartering my political influence.... I do not think that any man nominated at Lynchburg will stand the most remote chance of success, because he will only be supported by the negroes of the state, led by a few white men. No matter what my relations to the administration may be, I wouldn't assist in putting this set in power.

Excerpt from John S. Mosby, The Memoirs of Colonel John S. Mosby. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1959.

  John S. Mosby  
page created on 12.19.03
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