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“ America is another word for Opportunity.” — R. W. EMERSON, Essay on
RECONSTRUCTION. — THE NEW NATION (1865 TO THE
358. Johnson's Administration (Seventeenth President, April 15, 1865, to 1869). Difficulty of the President's Task; the Grand Review; Disbanding the Armies. — The untimely death of President Lincoln made Andrew Johnson' the head of the nation. 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 armies. But multitudes wished to see the brave men who had fought to save the nation; and late in May a grand review of Grant and Sherman's troops took place in Washington.
1 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. See page 285,
DISBANDING THE ARMIES.
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 over thirty miles long. The march of these seemingly endless regiments of sunburnt veterans, bearing their glittering muskets and 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,' laid down their
1 With the exception of about 50,000 men, kept as a standing army, to preserve order, all the Union troops, numbering over a million, were now disbanded. The number of Confederates disbanded was about 175,000.
In 1866 about 1500 "Fenians ” — Irish citizens of the United States, who felt that England had wronged their native land — invaded Canada. Many of them had served in the war for the Union and now hoped to strike Great Britain a blow, but as the movement was discountenanced by the United States it came to nothing.
arms and went quietly to their homes. Neither on the Northern nor on the Southern side, says a recent writer,' was there a single act of lawlessness recorded to stain their proud repute as soldiers and Americans.
359. What the War settled. — And now that all is over, now that the men in blue" and the “men in gray" have gone back to their farms and their workshops, let us ask, What did the war settle?
First, as a Southern historian admits, it “extinguished secession as completely as water extinguishes a flame of fire. Henceforth it was understood that no state had the right to leave the Union ; for the Union needs every one ; it must have every one, just as the body needs every member of which it is composed. Take away one of those members, a foot or a hand, and the man is no longer whole, he is a cripple. So with the American Republic; take away one of its members, one of its states, and it is no longer a complete nation, it cannot make the progress it did before.
Secondly, the war destroyed slavery, - that was an advantage to every one, white or black, North or South, simply because if a man owns himself he will always, as a rule, put more brain and muscle into his work, and accomplish more than if some one else owns him. Thirdly
, the war showed the real strength of the Republic. It proved that there was ' not air enough on our continent to Hoat two different American flags.' The Union was not to be broken. The North was strong in its fidelity to the Union, in its numbers and in its victory. The South was strong because its honor was represented by such men as General Lee. He had fought with all his might; he had been fairly beaten. He accepted the result. He applied to the government for pardon, because he felt that it was his duty to set an example to his men. He said, ' Remember that we are one country now. Do not bring up your children in
1 Dodge, “A Bird's-Eye View of our Civil War." 2 Pollard, “ The Lost Cause."
THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF PARDON.
hostility to the government of the United States. Bring them up to be Americans.'1
360. The President's Proclamation of Pardon; the Contest between Congress and the President. The President 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, 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 re-admit the Southern States, and passed a number of bills 2 in favor of the “freedmen,” one of which made them citizens, 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.4
1 See Cooke's “Life of Robert E. Lee."
3 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.
4 In case the President vetoes a bill (that is, refuses to sign it, and so make it law), Congress may pass the bill without the President's signature, providing twothirds of the members vote that it be made law. See the Constitution, page ix. sec. 7. 1 See the Constitution, page xviii. The Fourteenth Amendment furthermore required the South to repudiate their war-debt and to agree to the payment of the Union war-debt.
361. Congress puts the Southern States under Military Government. — In the spring of 1867 Congress passed another bill over the President's veto. This 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 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 from holding any high office. When these conditions were 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 re-admitted in 1866.
362. Six States re-admitted; Negro Legislators and “ Carpet-Baggers." --Six states accepted these conditions ;? 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 now got the 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. A class of greedy adventurers had gone South after the war, hoping to get political office or to make their fortunes. These “Carpet-Baggers,” 3
2 The six states which accepted (and were re-admitted June, 1868) were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia remained out until 1870.
3 “Carpet-Baggers”: a nickname given by Southerners to those Northern politicians 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 “ Çarpet-Baggers” in their schemes were nicknamed “Scalawags."