Cephas Davis Speaking in the Senate
In the first paragraph from an article in an unidentified 1879 newspaper, Cephas Davis is quoted as opposing former Confederate soldiers serving in the Virginia government. Davis, an African American member of the Senate of Virginia from 1879 to 1880, took the Senate floor when a debate arose over the propriety of a one-legged Confederate veteran being replaced by G. W. Cook, a black politician who had won the recent election. Some members of the Senate expressed outrage over the fact that "several maimed Confederate soldiers [had] to make way … for negroes."
"I am heartily tired of hearing the word Confederate soldier," Davis said. "It is time for the Senate to remove these officers. To the victors belong the spoils. This is not the place to try to reward Confederate soldiers. They belong to the lost cause and have no part in these spoils … I will vote for a resolution prohibiting the use of the words one-legged, two-legged or four-legged Confederate soldier …"
According to the article, Davis's speech was a "shameful attack upon the men who sacrificed everything at the bidding of the State," and that the representatives who turned "out of office a gallant one-legged Confederate soldier" were equally contemptible. "Can such men as these be really representative Virginians?" the article asks.
This newspaper clipping was sent anonymously to William Mahone, a former Confederate general, U.S. Senator, and leader of the biracial Readjuster Party.
Citation: Newspaper Clipping, William Mahone Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University