Committee of Nine

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The Committee of Nine was a group of conservative political leaders in Virginia, following the American Civil War, who engineered the political machinery so that both the Old Dominion might be readmitted into the Union and that former Confederate officers as well as sympathisers could vote.

Because Virginia's 1850 Constitution supported slavery, which became illegal during the American Civil War, and the delegates drafting the 1864 Constitution under provisional Governor Francis Harrison Pierpont did not represent the entire state, Virginia needed to draft and adopt a new Constitution to end military rule. However, former Confederates were not permitted to vote for members of the Constitutional Convention of 1867-68, which abolitionist (then U.S. District Judge) John Curtiss Underwood dominated. Conservative Virginians met in Richmond in December 1867, and led by Alexander H. H. Stuart, a former U.S. Presidential Cabinet officer, formed a the Conservative political party to oppose the Underwood Convention's handiwork.[1]

After the Underwood Convention in April 1868 proposed to continue voting restrictions on ex-Confederates, particularly after a Christmas 1868 letter by Stuart which both Richmond papers published, these Conservatives convinced the federal government to allow Virginians to vote separately on the proposed new state constitution, and the provision which continued to disenfranchise former Confederates (mostly white Virginians) under the Reconstruction Acts. The new constitution passed; the Confederate disenfranchisement did not. The United States Congress, in which Radical Republicans who had passed those Reconstruction Acts were still powerful, permitted Virginia's readmission into the Union as of January 26, 1870.

Committee members[edit]

Though not a member of the committee who traveled to Washington to conduct the negotiations, former Confederate general John Echols worked closely with Stuart to set up the compromise. Franklin Stearns of Richmond and former northerner and businessmenGilbert C. Walker of Norfolk, as well as Pierpont's successor as provisional Governor, Henry H. Wells, joined the nine men in some meetings with President Grant and various influential congressmen in January, 1869.[3]

Further reading[edit]

  • Stuart, Alex. H. H., A Narrative of the Leading Incidents of the Organization of the First Popular Movement in Virginia in 1865 to Re-Establish Peaceful Relations Between the Northern and Southern States, and of the Subsequent Efforts of the "Committee of Nine" to Secure the Restoration of Virginia to the Union, Richmond, Va.: Wm. Ellis Jones, Book and Job Printer, 1888.


  1. ^ Allen W. Moger, Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd: 1870-1925 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1968) p. 6
  2. ^
  3. ^ Moger p. 9