Thomas Whitehead was a former Confederate officer who was elected to Congress from Virginia in 1872. In 1875 he gave a speech opposing the Civil Rights Bill of 1875. Here is an excerpt from his speech that I found in Brooks Simpson's new Library of America collection of Reconstruction documents: Now the colored man is a citizen. He can vote. He can hold office. He can sue and be sued. He can be a witness. He can hold property. He can do in my State just what any other man can do, and if this is to give him equal rights with me I say he has them there now; and I say he has them in your State and in every other State. He has equal rights, he can hold property, he can hold office, he can sue and be sued, he can plead and be impleaded, and he can come to Congress, as a gentleman beside me suggests, and there are seventeen colored men who are now members of the Virginia Legislature. Now, what is the object of this bill? They say it is to give the colored man something he has not got. Well, there has always been a longing on the part of the colored man to get something he did not have, and a longing on the part of his white brother, who has taken charge of him as his special ward, to pretend to give him something he did not have. In our country they had it that each colored man was to have forty acres of land and a mule. A man came down one day in my district and asked one of these colored men if he had got his forty acres. He said he had not. He had a square stick in his hand, and said he was employed by the Government to stake off lands, and wherever he stuck it down the forty acres were to be measured by that stick. He sold it for five dollars, and the old man to whom he sold it wanted a receipt, and he gave him this receipt: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so I lifted the last five dollars of this old darky.” What became of this traveling individual I do not know. His countenance was pious, but his baggage was light. There has, however, been this longing on the part of the colored man, as I have said. But it will never be satisfied, in my opinion, because the Almighty has given him what he cannot get rid of—a black skin. Did you ever see one who believed in black angels? Did you ever hear of one who wanted a black doll-baby? You have not the power to make him white, and he never will be satisfied short of that. That is the trouble about the whole matter. His condition cannot be altered, and the best thing we can do is what we propose to do in our State—educate him, and take care of him, and do the best we can with him. My cradle was rocked by a colored woman; I was nursed in her arms, and she has had from that day to this not only my respect but my affection. You do not like the colored man half as well as I do. Reconstruction: Voices from America's First Great Struggle for Racial Equality (The Library of America) (Kindle Locations 9219-9223). Library of America. Kindle Edition.