Vichy Rule and the Illusion of Union


The victorious North installed a native proconsul in 1865 to rule North Carolina, and who agreed with the various constitutional fictions emanating from the radical Congress.  The North pretended the South had not formed a government with the consent of the governed and consistent with Jefferson’s Declaration.  The venerable North Carolina statesman William A. Graham rightly held that President Andrew Johnson possessed no authority to abolish the freely-elected government of the State and free African slaves without compensation. Vichy Governor William W. Holden would later find that North Carolina’s existence and rights as a State had indeed undergone a change.

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"


Vichy Rule and the Illusion of Union

“In obedience to the proclamation of Provisional Governor Holden, the State Convention met at noon on Monday, the 2nd instant

[2 October 1865].  The permanent President is Honorable E.G. Reade, of Person County. He is regarded as one of the best jurists in the State, was a Whig and an opponent of secession and State rights, and is now provisional judge of the eighth circuit by appointment of the Governor.

The Governor’s message came in on the second day. He takes it for granted that the Convention will recognize the abolition of slavery, provide that it shall not be re-established, and submit the amended Constitution to a vote of the people. [Governor Holden stated:]

“North Carolina attempted, in May 1861, to separate herself from the Federal Union. This attempt involved her, with other slaveholding States, in a protracted and disastrous war, the result of which was a vast expenditure of blood and treasure on her part, and the practical abolition of domestic slavery.  She entered the Rebellion a slaveholding State, and emerged from it a non-slaveholding State. In other respects, so far as her existence as a State and her rights as a State are concerned, she has undergone no change.

Allow me to congratulate you, gentlemen, upon the favorable circumstances which surround you, while engaged in this great work of restoring the State to her former and natural position. It is my firm belief that the policy of the President in this respect, which is broad, as liberal, and as just as the Constitution itself, will be approved by the great body of the people of the United States….our State will enjoy, in common with the other States, the protection of just laws under the Constitution of our fathers.”

(The South Since the War: As Shown by Fourteen Weeks of Travel and Observation in Georgia and the Carolinas, Sidney Andrews, Ticknor and Fields, 1866, pp. 133-134)