The following is excerpted from a Tuesday, 31 May 1892 address by Col. Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington, before the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina. His address was entitled “The Life and Character of William L. Saunders,” and Waddell described the postwar experience administered to the South.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
The Shameful Period of Reconstruction
“[Reconstruction] constitutes the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American people—the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.
A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled “with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,” and attacking the authors of these calamities, he exclaimed:
“From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States. You left not one stone upon another. You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins. Not a vestige of their former construction remained.” And again he said: “A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits , rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race. The disgraceful disabilities imposed against the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never more complete or appalling.”
Those old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them.”