On May 9, 1865, Francis H. Pierpont, a pro-Union Virginian who had been wartime governor of the part of Virginia occupied by federal troops, was recognized as provisional governor of the state. After the war, President Andrew Johnson, moving quickly to accomplish the restoration, or Reconstruction, of the Union, encouraged legislatures of the former Confederate states to reconvene. Virginia’s full legislature met in late 1865 and removed the restrictions on voting by ex-Confederate officials and officers that had been imposed by the occupation government during the war. It refused to extend the vote to blacks, and it passed a broadly worded vagrancy law that severely restricted the liberty of the freedmen. This law and similar laws—often forming part of extensive Black Codes—were passed throughout the former Confederate states at this time and replaced the prewar slave codes as a means of controlling black people. General A. H. Terry, the military commander of Virginia, ordered that the vagrancy law not be enforced.
Partly because of these acts by the Southern legislatures, the Radical wing of the Republican Party in Congress wrested control of Reconstruction from President Johnson and imposed the harsher regime called Radical Reconstruction. Congress put all the former Confederate states under military rule, and in March 1867, Virginia became Military District No. 1.
A constitutional convention met in Richmond on December 3, 1867. It was dominated by Judge John C. Underwood and the Radical Republicans. The convention drew up a controversial constitution with two clauses that barred many ex-Confederates from voting and from holding office. When President Ulysses S. Grant took office in 1869, he was petitioned by a group of moderate Virginia Republicans, called the Committee of Nine, to let Virginians vote on these two objectionable clauses separately from the rest of the constitution.
Grant persuaded Congress to allow this, the voters rejected the two clauses, and on July 6, 1869, the Underwood constitution was adopted. Gilbert C. Walker, a moderate Republican from New York, was elected governor. The legislature ratified the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in October 1869, and on January 26, 1870, Congress allowed Virginia to reenter the Union. The most significant results of the Reconstruction period were the extension of the vote to black men and the rise of a statewide, tax-supported public school system. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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