John W. Menzies's Resolutions on Reconstruction
January 26, 1867

In Menzies's resolutions on Reconstruction, John W. Menzies and other citizens of Kentucky demand that Kentucky's powers and rights as a state be honored as intended by the balance of powers between the state and the federal government in the U.S. Constitution. He expresses Kentucky citizens' faith in the U.S. Constitution while also declaring their disdain for the events that took place at the Thirty-ninth Congress.



Democratic County Meetings.

Meeting of the Democracy of Kenton County, Kentucky.

         At a mass-meeting of the Democracy of Kenton county, held at the court-house in the town of Independence, on Monday, January 21, 1867, for the purpose of appointing delegates to attend a convention to be held at Frankfort, on the 22d of February, 1867, to nominate a candidate for Governor and other State officers, and also to attend a convention to be held at Carrollton, on the 28th of February, 1867, to nominate a candidate for Congress from this district, James C. Howard, Esq., Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee for Kenton county, being present, took the chair, and A.C. Ellis was appointed Secretary.

         On motion of H. T. Wilson, Esq., the chair appointed F. B. Rust, Dr. J. C. Byland, and John S. Scott as a committee on permanent organization.

         On further motion, R. Richardson, Esq., Hon. John W. Menzies, Hon. Wm. E. Arthur, Judge John P. Harrison, and C. H. Mooar, Esq., were appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting, after which the Convention took a recess until one o’clock P. M.


         At the appointed hour for reassembling, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, the Court-house was filled to overflowing with the stalwart, unterrified Democracy of the city and county, each, seemingly, eager to contribute his might to the one grand and noble purpose of rescuing our country from the grasp of the miserable usurpers at Washington, assuming to act as the representatives of a free people.

         The Committee on Permanent Organization then reported—

         For President—Hon. Robt. Richardson.

         For Secretary—A. C. Ellis.

         Mr. Richardson, on taking the chair addressed the convention in a few brief and appropriate remarks, which were frequently interrupted with applause.

         At the conclusion of Mr. R.’s address, the Committee on Resolutions, through Hon J. W. Menzies, reported the following, which were unanimously adopted:

         1.   The Federal Government of these United States has its only validity in the Federal Constitution. And that Constitution has its only validity in the consent of the States respectively, or the people thereof. It consists only of certain delegated powers, specifically enunciated therein, and of such as are fully incident thereto, and all other powers are not only delegated, but are forbidden to the Federal Government, and expressly reserved to the States respectively or the people. Consequently, the exercise of undelegated powers on the part of any department of the Federal Government is usurpation, and unauthorized and void.

         2.   To form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the white people of those States respectively and the white race forever, the powers and means by which those paramount objects were, respectively, to be effected were defined and fixed, as the only power and means suitable thereto which the States or the people thereof ought to, would or did authorize or delegate. Consequently, the Constitution is the rule, and is the only rule whereby to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to the State and whole people who formed it, and the white race forever. And neither the discretion of Congress, or that of any other department, nor that of all other departments of the Federal Government combined, constitute the rule, or any rule whatever, either in war or in peace: For if it were otherwise, the written delegation of power, and the written specification of means, and the written reservation of all other powers and means would be a mere bagatelle instead of a benignant and scientific institute of government, without a parallel elsewhere in ancient or modern times.

         3.   The responsible element of that body of men, numerically denominated the Thirty-ninth Congress, have habitually repudiated the validity of the Constitution, spurned the consent of the States or the people thereof, usurped undelegated powers, and, pushing the Constitution from its august pedestal, have substituted in its place the truculent and portentious shape—if shape it is—that has none of an undefined, boundless, and inscrutable discretion, as the rule in all cases whatsoever; and, devising power and words of applying it, utterly revolutionary, rapacious, and malevolent, have gone on, and are going on, destroying the more perfect union, overthrowing justice, insuring domestic discord, providing for the common destruction, promoting the general woe, and insuring the curse of despotism to two—the higher and the lower—races of men, whom they alike misrepresent: and thus by overturning a system of benignant government founded in consent and erecting over its ruins a system of malevolent government founded in force, are steadily proceeding to undo all that was so well done by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and their Congress.

         4.   That responsible element is the old serpent revived of federalism and consolidation, which first darted its fangs at our republican system, through the alien and sedition acts of ‘98, and which, for the felicity of mankind, it had been hoped, was crushed under the heel of the Jeffersons, Madisons, Nicholasses, and Breckinridges of that day. But it has exhibited periodical revivals, and growing venom, and in 1819 attempted to usurp power to prescribe to Missouri, as a condition precedent to her admission into the Union as a State, the insertion in her constitution of a clause prohibiting African slavery—just as it is now usurping a power to disenfranchise, exclude from the Union, reduce to slavery, and scourge with taxation, ten States and nine millions of freemen of the Union, because they will not admit the African to a social and political equality.

         5.   The unrepresented States of this Union, whether regarded as sovereignties or as peoples, in intellectual and moral power, in war or in peace, in cabinet or in forum, in church or in State, embody the noblest elements of Christian civilization and in all the qualities which make States or peoples great and good, are unsurpassed by any community on the habitable globe.

         6.   When the late war was still raging, President Abraham Lincoln solemnly pledged the civilized world that the Southern States were not to be conquered, and that the condition of every human being in those States should remain subject to exactly the same laws and forms of administration, whether the revolution should succeed or fail, and that their constitutions and laws, customs, habits, and institutions should remain the same. And Congress solemnly pledged the civilized world, that the war was not waged on their part in a spirit of oppression, or for any purpose or conquest or subjugation, or purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those States but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired. Now, therefore, in the name of the supremacy of the Constitution and the preservation of the Union, we, freemen of the State of Kentucky, demand the redemption of those solemn pledges, and we set our faces like flint against all who oppose it. The Constitution of our fathers, the Union described in it, and the absolute and indestructible right of each State to order and control its own domestic institution by its own judgement exclusively, is what we must and will have; and we avow our settled determination not to submit to the exercise of undelegated powers by any man or body of men upon earth.

         7.   Wherefore we invoke the benign spirit of conciliation, concession and amity which ennobled the bosoms of Washington and Franklin, in the Convention of 1787, as they sat in the city of brotherly love, and which is, and which can only be the good genius of our duplex governments, State and Federal. And we solemnly declare that there can be no tranquility, concord and union, but in the regeneration of the Federal Constitution, the regeneration of the rights, dignity, liberty and equality of the States, the people thereof, and in the faithful observance by all concerned, of the constitutional supremacy of each in its proper sphere.

         8.   Resolved, That the Democracy of Kentucky will be represented in the convention appointed for the 22d of February, 1867, at Frankfort, to nominate Democratic candidates for State offices, and in the convention to be held at Carrollton on the 25th of next month, to nominate a candidate to represent this district in the next Congress; and, therefore, the Chairman of this meeting is directed to appoint a committee to report the names of suitable representative men of the Democracy, taken from all and every one of the voting precincts of the county as delegates to these conventions at Frankfort and Carrolllton.

         9.    Resolved, That the Chair should, if practicable, select this committee so as to make it consist of three from every Covington precinct, and two from every county precinct.

         10.   Resolved, That the delegates who will be appointed here to-day are expected to ascertain the wishes of the Democrats of their respective precincts as to candidates; and they are expected to exercise their best judgement for the good of the cause which is involved in the struggle we are making with the Radical disunionists of the North, and this meeting has no further suggestions to make to the delegates.

         On motion of Hon. W. E[.] Arthur, the Chair was directed to appoint a committee of five—three from the city and two from the county, to co-operate with him in the selection of a committee to report a list of delegates to the Convention.

         The Chairman then announced the following as said committee: From the City—H. T. Wilson, John S. Scott and John Todd. From the county—William H. Pye and John W. Leathers.

         The Committee having retired for a short time, reported the following as the Committee on Delegates, to-wit:

         First District, from city—G. C. Tarvin, T. D. Davis and C. H. Railey.

         Second District, from city—J. W. Menzies, Wm. Hall and H. Berte.

         Third District, from city—Jas. O’Donnell, Jas. Holmes and W. S. Nock.

         Fourth District, from city—John Todd, J. K. Pence and J. S. Scott.

         First District, from county—J. W. Leathers and W. F. Simrall.

         Second District, from county—E. S. Wilson and F. B. Rust.

         Third District, from county—W. H. Pye and Jas. Poore.

         Fourth District, from county—John Hume and Daniel McCarty.

         Fifth District, from county—R. M. Carlisle and E. Northcutt.

         The Committee on Delegates, after due deliberation, announced the following as a list of delegates to said Convention, viz:

         First District, Covington—C. H. Railey, G. C. Tarvin, G. W. Niel, Thos. D. Davis, and C. B. Sandford.

         Second District, from city—A. C. Ellis, W. P. McLaughlin, Wm. Hall, Henry Berte, John W. Menzies, Henry Adams, J. M. Clarkson, F. Dressman, Harry Moore, John Schulker, and James B. Gray.

         Third District, from city—John O’Donnell, Jas. Holmes, John Crutcher, B. Dressman, L. Hays, Jas. B. Casey, Thos. Robson, Alex. James, P. Fitzpatrick, Dr. C. D. Foote, Geo. Mayleben, and Dr. F. Avard.

         Fourth District, from city—John Todd, R. Simmons, John S. Scott, J. K. Pence, Patrick Burke, R. Richardson, Jos. Hovekamp, L. E. Baker, J. P. McLaughlin, and Barney Train.

         First District, from county—J. W. Leathers, R. H. Perry, H. Dressman, Wm. R. Thomas, A. P. Sandford, and W. F. Simrall.

         Second District, from county—F. B. Rust, A. Frazer, Dr. B. F. Bedinger, and John G. Tupman.

         Third District, from county—Dr. J. C. Byland, James Williams, W. H. Pye, W. S. Grant, George Cris, and John Armstrong, Jr.

         Fourth District, from county—Wm. Coleman, John Lambert, Orrin Percival, Sr., Thomas Bird, and Daniel McCarty.

         Fifth District, from county—J. H. H. Daniels, Elijah Northcutt, John H. Fishback, Jos. Collins, E. J. Green, John Ellis, and S. C. Sayers.

         The report of the Committee on Delegates was then adopted unanimously.

         On motion of Col. James O’Hare it was 

         Resolved, That the thanks of this Convention be and the same are hereby tendered to the President and Secretary for the able and faithful manner in which they have discharged their respective duties.

         On motion the Convention adjourned.

                         ROB’T RICHARDSON, Chairman.

         Attest:   A. C. ELLIS, Secretary.


Printed in The Louisville Daily Courier, January 26, 1867; also in The Cincinnati Enquirer, January 24, 1867.