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America is another word for Opportunity."--R. W. EMERSON'S Essay on American Civilization.
RECONSTRUCTION--THE NEW NATION1
(1865 TO THE PRESENT TIME)
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN POWER
361. Difficulty of President Johnson's Task; the Grand Review; disbanding the Armies. The untimely death of President Lincoln (§ 358) made Andrew Johnson 2 the head of the nation.3 The position to which the new President was thus suddenly called, was peculiarly hard and trying; for if the great heart of Lincoln had to bear the sad burden of four years of civil war, his successor had to undertake the delicate and difficult work of reconstruction, -- that is, of restoring the seceded states to their former places in the Union.
Now that the war was over, the first thing to be done was to disband the Union army, numbering more than a million soldiers.
1 Reference Books. W. Wilson's "Division and Reunion," ch. 11-13; W. C. Bryant and Gay's "United States" (revised edition), V, ch. 21-31; A. B. Hart's "American History by Contemporaries," IV, Ch. 23-34; A. B. Hart's "Source Book," ch. 19-21; W. A. Dunning's "Reconstruction E. E. Sparks' National Development"; D. R. Dewey's "National Problems J. H. Latané's "America the World Power"; A. B. Hari's "Ideals of American Government"; J. W. Garner's and Lodge's "United States," III, ch. 35, and IV, ch. 36-45; E. B. Andrews' "The United States in Our Time." See also the classified List of Books in the Appendix.
2 Andrew Johnson was born at Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808; died, 1875. He learned the tailor's trade and moved to Greenville, Tennessee. He never attended school, but was entirely self-educated. He was elected to Congress in 1843 by the Democrats, and to the United States Senate in 1857. When the Civil War broke out he took a decided stand against secession. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee. On Lincoln's second election to the presidency by the Republicans, Johnson was elected Vice President.
3 See the Constitution, Article II, Section I, Paragraph 6.
THE GRAND REVIEW
But multitudes wished to see the brave men who had fought to save the nation; and late in May a grand review of Grant's and of Sherman's troops took place in Washington.
For the first time since the beginning of the war the triumphant armies of the east and of the west were united. During the greater part of two days (May 23, 24, 1865) the broad avenue from the Capitol to the White House resounded with martial music, and with the strong, steady tread of a column of men over thirty miles long. The march of these seemingly endless regiments of sunburnt veterans, bearing their glittering muskets and
THE CAPITOL AT WASHINGTON
their tattered, smoke-stained battle flags, festooned with flowers, was a magnificent sight. No such spectacle had ever been seen before in America; as one enthusiastic officer declared, "It was worth ten years of a man's life for him to be able to say, 'I was there.'"
But grand as the display was, something grander was to come; that was the fact that in the course of a few weeks all these men, with many hundreds of thousands more,1 laid down their arms and went quietly to their homes. Neither on the Northern nor on the Southern side was there a single act of lawlessness to stain their proud record as soldiers and Americans.
1 About 50,000 men were kept as a standing army, to preserve order; all the other Union troops were disbanded. The number of Confederates disbanded was about 75,000.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
362. What the War Settled. The war settled three things:
1. It "extinguished secession" as completely as water extinguishes a flame of fire. Henceforth it was understood that the Union could not be broken. On this point the Constitution received a final and unmistakable interpretation. In the words of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1868), the American Republic is "an indestructible Union composed of indestructible states." The war established the supremacy of the national government beyond all question; but more than this, it made every heart feel that we are one nation and have a common destiny. It fixed in the minds of the people the great thought expressed by Daniel Webster: "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable" (§ 268).
2. The war made the negro free -- that was an advantage to every one, white or black, North or South; for free labor only is intelligent and profitable.
3. The manner in which the result was accepted on both sides was itself a benefit. General Grant showed a magnanimity that has had no parallel. General Lee had fought with all his might; he was in the wrong; he applied to the government for a pardon, as an example to his men. He said: "Remember that we are one country now. Do not bring up your children in hostility to the government of the United States. Bring them up to be Americans."
363. The President's Proclamation of Pardon; the Contest between Congress and the President. President Johnson issued a proclamation of pardon (May 29, 1865) to the greater part of the people of the seceded states on condition that they would swear to "faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution and the Union." A majority of the inhabitants of those states took the oath. They furthermore bound themselves to accept the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited slavery (§ 340), and they agreed never to demand payment of any part of the Southern war debt.
Now came the question whether these states should be at once permitted to send representatives to Congress. The President said, Yes; but a majority in Congress said, No. The reason for this
denial was that the greater part of Congress believed that it would not be safe to restore the southern states to their full political rights until more was done to protect the negroes, or "freedmen," as they were now called, in the enjoyment of their new liberty.
From this time forward the President and Congress were engaged in bitter strife with each other. Congress refused to readmit the southern states, and passed several bills1 in favor of the "freedmen," one of which made them citizens,2 another gave them military protection, while a third granted them power to vote in the District of Columbia. The President believed that the South would deal fairly by the "freedmen," and he therefore vetoed these bills; Congress then passed them over his veto.3
364. Congress puts the Southern States under Military Government; the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In the spring (1867) Congress passed another bill over the President's veto. This was the First Reconstruction Act.4 The new law divided the South into districts, each of which was to be governed by a military governor. The "freedmen" were given the right to vote, but that right was denied to all those white inhabitants who had taken a prominent part in the war against the Union. Each state was to continue under this form of government until the people of the states -- black as well as white -- should form a government accepting the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
That amendment, enacted by Congress in 1866, to supplement the Thirteenth Amendment (§ 340), declared the negro a citizen; it made it a great disadvantage to a state to deny him the right to vote or to hold office; finally it shut out the chief white men of the South, who had taken part in the war, from holding any high
1 Namely the Civil Rights Bill, the Supplementary Freedmen's Bureau Bill, and the District of Columbia Franchise Bill. See W. Macdonald's "Select Statutes" (1861-1898), pp. 141, 147, 154.
2 By making the "freedmen" citizens, Congress (by the Civil Rights Bill, March, 1866) gave them the right to protection under the laws of the United States, with power to use the courts to sue for the payment of debts and the like.
3 In case the President vetoes a bill (that is, refuses to sign it, and returns it to Congress), Congress may pass the bill without the President's signature, providing two thirds of the members vote for it. See the Constitution, Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2.
4 See W. Macdonald's "Select Statutes" (1861-1898), p. 156. 5 Ratified in 1868.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
office.1 When these conditions should he accepted, but not before, the southern states might send representatives to Congress.
Tennessee, President Johnson's state, having fulfilled all the conditions required, had been readmitted (1866).
365. Six States readmitted; Negro Legislators and "Carpetbaggers."2 Six states accepted these conditions;3 four refused but accepted them later (1870). In some of the restored states, especially in South Carolina, there were more negroes than white men. The negroes got control of these states. They had been slaves all their lives, and were so ignorant that they did not even know the letters of the alphabet. Yet they now sat in the state legislatures and made the laws. After the war many industrious Northern men settled in the South, but, besides these, certain greedy adventurers, nicknamed "Carpetbaggers," went there eager to get political office and political spoils. These "Carpetbaggers" used the ignorant "freedmen" as tools to carry out their own selfish purposes. Working with the negro legislators, they plundered the states that had the misfortune to be subject to their rule.4
After a time the white population throughout the South resolved that they would no longer endure this state of things. Partly by peaceable and partly by violent means they succeeded in getting the political power into their own hands, and the reign of the "Carpetbagger" and the negro came to an end.
366. Congress impeaches the President; Proclamation of Full and Unconditional Pardon; the Fifteenth Amendment. Meanwhile, the quarrel between Congress and the President (§ 363) was growing
1 See the Constitution Amendments, Article XIV. The Fourteenth Amendment furthermore required the South to repudiate its war debt and to agree to the payment of the Union war debt.
2 "Carpetbaggers": a nickname given by Southerners to Northern adventurers who went South after the war (with no baggage or property except a carpetbag) for the purpose of getting office and plunder. Those Southerners who joined the "Carpetbaggers" in their schemes were nicknamed "Scalawags."
3 The six states which accepted (and were readmitted June, 1868) were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia remained out until 1870.
4 In 1868 the total debt of South Carolina was about $5,000,000. Under four years of "Carpetbag" government, or rather misgovernment, the debt was increased to no less than $30,000,000. Much of the debt represented simply what was stolen from the people of the state.
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CONGRESS IMPEACHES THE PRESIDENT
more and more serious. The President was not only determined to have his own way, but also to remove from office those who did not agree with him. Congress now passed the Tenure of Office Act (1867).1 It forbade his dismissing even the members of his own cabinet or private council without the consent of the Senate.
The President denied the power of Congress to make such a law, and he removed Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who had been appointed by President Lincoln. For this refusal to obey the Tenure of Office Act Congress proceeded (1868) to impeach2 the President. On his trial thirty-five senators voted "guilty" and nineteen "not guilty"; as this was one less than the two-thirds' vote required to convict him, President Johnson was acquitted. A single vote more against him would have removed him from the presidency.
On the Christmas following (1868) the President issued a proclamation of full and unconditional pardon to all persons who had taken part in the war against the Union.
Early in the year following (1869) Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It was ratified by the states in 1870.3 The Thirteenth Amendment (passed 1865) made the negro free (§ 340), the Fourteenth Amendment (passed 1866) made him a citizen (§ 364), the Fifteenth finished the work and made him a voter. All these great changes had taken place within the short space of four years!
But since then (1890-1908) the greater part of the southern states have passed laws which practically take away the negro's power to vote in those states. For this reason the Fifteenth Amendment has at present no real force at the South (§ 409).
1 See W. Macdonald's "Select Statutes" (1861-1898), p. 160. The principal features of the act were repealed in 1869, and the remainder of it in 1887.
2 Impeach the President: to bring him to trial. The House of Representatives makes the charges and the Senate tries the case-the Chief justice presiding. See the Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 5; and Section 3, Paragraph 6. As only part of the southern states had been readmitted, the number of senators was then but 54.
3 See the Constitution Amendments, Article XV. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress under Lincoln in 1965, it was ratified by the required number of three fourths of the states in December of that year, after Johnson had become President.
The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were passed by Congress during Johnson's presidency, but the last was not ratified until 1870, after Grant had become President.