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"Our Duty in Reorganization," June 24, 1865


"Our Duty in Reorganization," June 24, 1865


The article was written June 24, 1865, by employees of Harper’s Weekly, a Republican newspaper, to share its opinions on the Reconstruction efforts in North Carolina with a broad audience. The article delved into the debate over states’ rights vs. national authority. The article argued that it was imperative for federal authority to triumph. The article argued that if states were allowed to make the decisions, those decisions would be made by those white voters who were the cause of the war. The article argued that the surest way to protect African American rights and ensure federal policies were implemented was to keep North Carolina under direct federal control. The article uses an account from a New York Times writer visiting North Carolina to bolster its position. The article directed its readers' attention to the paradox of the southern white man’s argument. The article details that white southern men stood behind states’ rights because they wanted to repress African Americans on the argument that African Americans were unintelligent and could not be trusted with the responsibility of voting. Yet, as the article points out, no more than one-seventh of white voters in North Carolina could read and write. Harper’s Weekly believed that federal authority needed to step in to protect African Americans and give them the right to vote.


Harper’s Weekly


"Our Duty In Reorganization," Harper's Weekly, June 24, 1865, Harpweek, accessed October 31, 2014,




Ryan Eubanks




North Carolina

Original Format

Newspaper Article


“Peace,” said Edmund Burke, “may be made as unadvisedly as war. Nothing is so rash as fear, and the counsels of pusillanimity very rarely put off, while they are always sure to aggravate, the evils from which they would fly.” What this country needs to secure peace is the firm application of a plain principle. The principle of State rights, like that of country rights and town rights, is a good one. But the principle of national rights is the paramount and essential principle of the present situation. All subordinate rights whatever must bend to the national necessity of a local government in every State based upon the consent of the whole body of loyal freemen.

The national authority is fully competent to secure that government. There is no reason whatever why the nation should delegate its authority to secure such State governments in the South to a part of the loyal freemen resident there. At this moment no one loyal freeman of North Carolina has any right to a voice in reorganizing the State which every other does not equally possess. There is no more reason, except in an imaginary view of policy, why the national Government should authorize white loyalists alone to reorganize the State government of North Carolina because the voters in that State were formerly white than that it should authorize the colored loyalists alone to reorganize it because they have been always faithful to the country. As a question of policy merely, it is clear that if any class of loyalists object to reorganize the State upon acknowledged democratic republican principles that is not a class to which the reorganization can be safely intrusted. It is better policy to govern the State directly by the national authority than to relinquish it to such a class.


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Harper’s Weekly, "Our Duty in Reorganization," June 24, 1865, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 12, 2024,