Failure of Reconstruction
Daniel W. Voorhees

I have been in the South this summer in connection with an investigating committee, and I assert that the worst governments in the whole world, without any exception, are the governments of the Southern States at this hour. There is nothing comparable to them. They are unparalleled for their iniquity, their infamy, and their outrages. Their law-makers are incompetent to make laws. With legislatures four-fifths of whom can neither read nor write, and who pay not even a poll-tax, enacting laws and levying untold milions of taxes upon the property of the States, what can you expect except the worst government beneath the sun?


In my deliberate judgement, the governments have been built in the Southern States, if you will allow the expression, upon the wrong end. The pyramid stands, not upon its base, but upon its apex. You have founded your governments upon the vice, upon the ignorance, upon the irresponsibility of mankind; not upon the stability, not upon the intelligence, not upon the classes that are responsible for the peace, order, and welfare of society, and now you are reaping some of the fruits of your system. "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs from thistles?" No; neither will you gather the blessings of good government from a system which has brought into power and place the worst and most ignorant classes of the human race. I allude not merely to the black element of the South; I allude also to the opportunity which your plan of reconstruction gave to adventurers from the North, and to the vicious and corrupt of all races and from all quarters of the world. I allude to that feature of your policy, disfranchising the intelligence and the virtue of the South, which a distinguished gentleman from South Carolina, a few days ago in this capitol, declared had made his State government a disgrace to the civilized world. It is confined, however, to no one State. The evils of your legislation are spread broadcast throughout all the South. It salutes the eye everywhere. Your failure to establish peace and prosperity is universal.


Speeches of Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana compiled by his son Charles S. Voorhees with a Short Biographical Sketch, pages 548,549-550
Remarks made in the House of Representatives, January 22, 1872, upon the difficulties attending the organization of the Legislature of Louisiana, in January, 1872
Robert Clarke & Company, Cinicinnati, 1875