Andrew Johnson

Veto Message

June 25, 1868

To the House of Representatives:

In returning to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, a bill entitled "An act to admit the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida to representation in Congress," I do not deem it necessary to state at length the reasons which constrain me to withhold my approval. I will not, therefore, undertake at this time to reopen the discussion upon the grave constitutional questions involved in the act of March 2, 1867, and the acts supplementary thereto, in pursuance of which it is claimed, in the preamble to this bill, these States have framed and adopted constitutions of State government Nor will I repeat the objections contained in my message of the 20th instant, returning without my signature the bill to admit to representation the State of Arkansas, and which are equally applicable to the pending measure.

Like the act recently passed in reference to Arkansas, this bill supersedes the plain and simple mode prescribed by the Constitution for the admission to seats in the respective Houses of Senators and Representatives from the several States. It assumes authority over six States of the Union which has never been delegated to Congress, or is even warranted by previous unconstitutional legislation upon the subject of restoration. It imposes conditions which are in derogation of the equal rights of the States, and is founded upon a theory which is subversive of the fundamental principles of the Government. In the case of Alabama it violates the plighted faith of Congress by forcing upon that State a constitution which was rejected by the people, according to the express terms of an act of Congress requiring that a majority of the registered electors should vote upon the question of its ratification.

For these objections, and many others that might be presented, I cannot approve this bill, and therefore return it for the action of Congress required in such cases by the Federal Constitution.


Andrew Johnson, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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