On this day in 1978, U.S. president Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution of Congress restoring citizenship to Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy. The following statement was drafted for the occasion:
In posthumously restoring the full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis, the Congress officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States. Earlier, he was specifically exempted form resolutions restoring the rights of other officials in the Confederacy. He had served the United States long and honorably as a soldier, Member of the U.S. House and Senate, and as Secretary of War. General Robert E. Lee‘s citizenship was restored in 1976. It is fitting that Jefferson Davis should no longer be singled out for punishment.
Our Nation needs to clear away the guilts and enmities and recriminations of the past, to finally set at rest the divisions that threatened to destroy our Nation and to discredit the principles on which it was founded. Our people need to turn their attention to the important tasks that still lie before us in establishing those principles for all people.
Who knew that reconciliation could be official, but there it is. This is not to say that we can’t still argue over just about everything related to said war … or see ourselves as martyrs to a cause that no longer technically exists … or soldiers … or perhaps even terrorists …
N.B.: As it happens, 1978 was also the year that Peaches and Herb, that great R&B duo from Washington, D.C., released their Number 1 hit “Reunited.” Sadly, what has stuck in my head ever since is not the original version. See what I mean after the jump.