The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Senator's Views on Reconstruction
Mike Rappaport

I have been reading the congressional debates concerning the Fourteenth Amendment, and there are some gems in there.  Here is one of my favorites.  Senator Henderson, a War Democrat from Missouri, says this towards the end of the debate:

It is only where political power is in the hands of a favored few that oppression can be practiced.  It is only where oppression exists that the agents of a superior power are needed for protection.  Give the negro the ballot and he will take care of himself because his interest requires it.  Give him a bureau agent and he will sometimes be plundered, because his interest and the interest of the agent may differ.

Clearly, some of the Framers of the Reconstruction Amendments understood public choice theory.

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Mike Rappaport