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displaced the Tribune as a mouthpiece of the party. In 1864 Mr. Ray-
moiid was the leader of the New York delegation in the Republican
National Convention, and its platform was the work of his graceful
pen. He helped to give Johnson the nomination for the Vice-Presi-
dency, and so helped to make him President. Elected to Congress
with the assured friendship of Seward and Lincoln, he expected to en-
ter the House with all the advantages of position and influence that
generally come to men only after long service. With Seward, the
master spirit of Johnson's administration, he failed to conceive that
Lincoln's death had impaired his prospects that his championship
of Johnson's policy would so completely identify him with a bad cause
that he would share in its ruin. If Lincoln had lived, and had pursued
the policy that the friends of the Administration claimed was his, it
would have been an honor to go down with the ship, but to leave one's
career behind him for the sake of Andrew Johnson was too great a
sacrifice to excite an}' emotion, except that of pity.

Mr. Stevens's speech was made on the 18th of December, and so
Mr. Raymond was compelled to hurry his response, so as to make it
before the adjournment for the Christmas holidays, which was set
for the 22d. He was ready to make his argument on the morning of
the 21st, but an accident intervened that delayed his speech until
later in the day. An Ohio Democrat of the Vallandighani type, who
was never heard of afterward William E. Finck claimed the floor,
and was graciously accorded it by a majority that was pleased to
see the Administration subjected to a tactical blunder at the begin-
ning of the struggle. The one thing that could not fail to be the most
hurtful to the President's policy at that time was the support of the
Peace Democracy. Finck, unfortunately for the cause he had at
heart, was insensible to the shame of his party, or to the fatal conse-
quences of any proffers of sympathy or support from it to any cause
at that time. The inappositeness of Finck's speech was still further
aggravated by an inapposite series of resolutions offered the same
day by Mr. Voorhees, of Indiana. Voorhees was the personification
of inappositeness in politics. With a fine presence and a haughty
mien, he had caught his political inspirations from the Southern
statesmen who had left Congress before he entered it. He stood ready
now to welcome them back with fraternal hands from bloody fields.
Such were the two too ready champions of a cause in behalf of which
Raymond was about to plead with his own party to stay its hands and
turn away from its purpose.

Mr. Raymond felt the incongruity of his intended effort with his
environment, and he did not fail to show his resentment and adminis-
ter a stinging rebuke, not only to the men but to the party guilty of


these impertinences. " I have no party feeling/' he said, in beginning
his speech, " which would prevent me from rejoicing in the indications
apparent on the Democratic side of the House of a purpose to concur
with the loyal administration of the Government and with the loyal
majorities in both Houses of Congress in restoring peace and order to
our common country. I can not, however, help wishing, sir, that these
indications of an interest in the preservation of our Government had
come somewhat sooner. I can not help feeling that such expressions?
can not now be of as much use to the country as they might once have
been. If we could have had from that side of the House such indica-
tions of an interest in the preservation of the Union, such heartfelt
sympathy with the friends of the Government for the preservation
of that Union, such hearty denunciations for all those who were
seeking its destruction while the war was raging, I am sure we might
have been spared some years of war, some mill-
ions of money, and rivers of blood and tears."

Raymond's principal aim was to controvert
Stevens's theory of dead States. " The gentle-
man from Pennsylvania," he said, " believes
that what we have to do is to create new State;?
out of this conquered territory, at the proper
time, many years distant, retaining them mean-
while in a territorial condition, and subjecting
them to precisely such a state of discipline and
tutelage as Congress and the Government of the
United States may see fit to prescribe. If I be- SAMUEL SHELLABARGER.
lieved in the premises he assumes, possibly,

though I do not think probably, I might agree with the conclusion he
has reached ; but, sir, I can not believe that these States have ever been
out of the Union, or that they are now out of the Union. If they were,
sir, how and when did they become so? By what specific act, at what
precise time, did any one of those States take itself out of the Ameri-
can Union? "

After the recess Mr. Shellabarger answered Mr. Raymond on this
point with a caustic summary, that is in itself the history and the
substance of the debate. " I answer him," said the earnest member
from Ohio, " in the words of the Supreme Court, ' The causeless
waging against their own Government of a war which all the world
acknowledges to have been the greatest civil war known in the history
of the human race.' The war was waged by these people as States,
and it went through long, dreary years. In it they threw off and
defied the authority of your Constitution, your laws, and your Govern-
ment. Thev obliterated from their State constitutions and laws every


vestige of recognition of your Government. They discarded all their
official oaths, and took in their places oaths to support your enemies'
government. They seized, in their own States, all the Nation's prop-
erty. Their Senators and Representatives in your Congress insulted,
bantered, defied, and then left you. They expelled from their land or
assassinated every inhabitant of known loyalty. They betrayed and
surrendered your arms. They passed sequestration and other acts in
flagitious violation of the law of nations, making every citizen of the
United States an alien enemy, and placing in the treasury of their
rebellion all money and property due such citizens. They framed
iniquity and universal murder into law. For years they besieged
your Capital and sent your bleeding armies in rout back here upon
the very sanctuaries of your national power. Their pirates burned
your unarmed commerce upon every sea. They carved the bones of
your uiiburied heroes into ornaments and drank from goblets made
out of their skulls. The}' poisoned 3 T our fountains, put mines under
your soldiers' prisons, organized bands whose leaders were concealed
in your homes, and whose commissions ordered the torch to be carried
to your cities, and the yellow fever to your wives and children. They
planned one universal bonfire of the North, from Lake Ontario to the
Missouri. They murdered, by systems of starvation and exposure,
sixty thousand of your sons as brave and heroic as ever martyrs were.
They destro}'ed, in the four years of horrid war, another army so large
that it would reach almost around the globe in marching-columns.
And then to give to the infernal drama a fitting close, and to concen-
trate into one crime all that is criminal in crime and all that is de-
testable in barbarism, they murdered the President of the United
States. I allude to these horrid events, not to revive frightful mem-
ories, or to bring back the impulses toward the perpetual severance
of this people which they provoke. I allude to them to remind us how
utter was the overthrow and the obliteration of all government,
divine and human; how total was the wreck of all constitutions and
laws, political, civil, and international. I allude to them to condense
their monstrous enormities of guilt into one crime, and to point the
gentleman from New York to it, and to tell him that that was the
specific act."

Raymond made a rejoinder to Shellabarger before the debate closed.
but without effect. His speech was ingenious and it was praised for
its cleverness, but it met with no practical sympathy, and when the
test vote was taken only one Republican in the House voted with
Mr. Raymond his colleague and friend, William A. Darling. While
he lived Mr. Raymond believed he could have made a serious diver-
sion among the Republicans in Congress if he could have had the



benefit of the hostility of President Johnson's Democratic friends.
He was especially indignant at Mr. Voorhees, whose ill-timed reso-
lution, that " the President is entitled to the thanks of Congress and
the country for his faithful, wise, and successful efforts to restore
civil government, law, and order to the States lately in rebellion,"
was the cause of the break with the President, and the disaster that
made Raymond the approved ally of the discredited Democracy.

The theory of Mr. Stevens that the insurrectionary States were, in
fact, in a territorial condition, and must be readmitted before they
could again exercise their rights under the Constitution, never be-
came an accepted dogma of the Republican party. Its assertion was
as necessary in practice as the assertion of the right to coerce a State
had been five years before. It was a condition, not a theory, with
which Congress had to deal. The
enunciation of the theory gave the
Democrats the hope of re-establishing
their party upon the opposite doc-
trine once a State always a State.
It was a party that at all times in its
long history had been willing to cover
obnoxious conditions with the broad
mantle of specious dogma. In the
century of its existence it has never
once pursued a policy on any one
great question that outlasted the con-
dition the garment of dogma was in-
tended to protect; without excep-
tion the mantle of Democracy has
proved a shirt of Xessus to the Re-
public. The Kentucky and Virginia

Resolutions of 1798, framed by Jefferson and containing the doc-
trine of State rights were intended as a mere political expedient,
but proved the germs of nullification and secession. The Missouri
Compromise w r as Democratic doctrine in 1820, and its repeal in 1854.'
The power of the people of the Territories to admit or exclude slavery
was Democratic doctrine in 1856, and the power to admit and protect,
but not to exclude it, in 1860. The right of a State to secede was
Democratic doctrine in 1861-4, and now in 1865 all the deductions and
theories of nearly seventy years, based on the Resolutions of 1798,
w r ere cast to the winds for a dogma unknown to Democratic tradi-
tions the inalienable rights of Statehood. " I have now," said
Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, the Democratic champion of Andrew
Johnson in the Senate, " and I have had from the first, a very decided



opinion that they are States in the Union, and that they never could
have been placed out of the Union without the consent of their sister
States. The insurrection terminated, the authority of the Govern-
ment was thereby reinstated; co inxtantl they were invested with all
the rights belonging to them originally I mean as States. . . .
In my judgment, our sole authority for the acts which have been done
during the last four years was the authority communicated to Con-
gress by the Constitution to suppress insurrection. If the power can
only be referred to that clause, in my opinion speaking, I repeat,
with great deference to the judgment of others the moment the in-
surrection was terminated there was no power whatever left in the
Congress of the United States over those States; and I am glad to see,
if I understand his message, that in the view I have just expressed I
have the concurrence of the President of the United States."

The Democratic contention was in effect that the fact that a great
war of eleven States had been w r aged for four years against the Union
was to be blotted out of the Federal calendar, and the story of that
war left to become a mere American " Froissart's Chronicle " for the
amusement of schoolboys. The South was to come back, like the
prodigal of old, as if the rebellious States had never repudiated the
paternal Constitution and the maternal Union. Slavery was to be
abolished, it is true, but the serfdom of Russia had been substituted
for the milder form of Southern bondage. The crime of rebellion was
not only to go unpunished, but it was to be rewarded, and Andrew
Johnson was to rule over the Republic under the banner of the Democ-
racy and in the interest of the South. For once in the history of the
world the failure of a great rebellion was to work no real harm to the
rebels, and the conquerors were expected to divest themselves of the
rights and the duties of the conquest. The settlement of these irre-
concilable theories with the conditions involved was the matter in
dispute between Congress and the President.

The remedial measures that w r ere necessary to the rehabilitation of
the States that were conquered, but still rebellious, and the forensic
concomitants of the remedial legislation extended over two Con-
gresses. The whole period was a tourney of Republican champion-
ship of the right, in an arena rendered lurid by the blood-red glare
of a false Democratic patriotism. Every measure and every phase of
the debates brought the white and black knights of the Blended Rose
and the Burning Mountain into bold relief. Mr. Shellabarger came,
as we have seen, as a veritable Sir Galahad, whose snow-white shield
fitted him to sit in the " Siege Perilous." He was the most moderate of
the Republican leaders, and held the Republican majority in the House
intact for the right, not because he was the ablest, but for the better


reason that he was the wisest of them all. Voorhees was the Knight
of the Lions. Henry Wilson was the Knight of the Rainbow, not be-
cause of his gorgeous raiment, but because he came panoplied with
a measure that w r as the bow of promise for the crushed and persecuted
freednien. " I have no desire to say harsh things of the South," he
said in introducing the bill for the establishment of the Freedmen's
Bureau, " nor of the men who have been engaged in the Rebellion.
I do not ask their property or their blood; I do not wish to disgrace
or degrade them; but I do wish that they shall not be permitted
to disgrace, degrade, or oppress anybody else. I offer this bill as a
measure of humanity, as a measure that the needs of that section of
the country imperatively demand at our hands. I believe that if it
should pass it will receive the sanction of nineteen-twentieths of the
loyal people of the country. Men
may differ about the power or the
expediency of giving the right of suf-
frage to the negro; but how any hu-
mane, just, and Christian man can for
a moment permit the laws that are
on the statute books of the Southern
States, and the laws now pending
before their Legislatures, to be exe-
cuted upon men whom we have de-
clared to be free, I can not compre-

The debate on Mr. Wilson's bill in
the Senate called out another dis-
play of that singular inapposite- HENRY WILSON.
ness in support of the President's

policy that was the most remarkable feature of the epoch. Willard
Saulsbury, of Delaware, rushed into the affray as a simple 'Prentice
Knight the Sim Tappertit of the Senate. He headed the " United
Bull-dogs," and led them against the " tyrant masters " in the Re-
publican party, when he pledged to the President " the support of
two million men in the States which have not been in revolt, and who
did not support him for his high office." Edgar Cowan, of Pennsyl-
vania, was a Carpet Knight, who continued to kneel to the slaveholder
in the Senate, after Grant and Sherman had knocked the shackles
from the slave in the tented field. " One man out of ten thousand,"
said Mr. Cowan, " is brutal to a negro, and that is paraded here as a
type of the whole people of the South; whereas nothing is said of the
other nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine men who treat the
negro well." Cowan had been elected to the Senate as a Republican



with the record of a Radical, but as the event proved he was without
the stability to stand for principle and the party against patronage
and the President. With Cowan were four other Republican re-
cusants Doolittle, of Wisconsin; Gratz Brown, of Missouri; Dixon,
of Connecticut, and Norton, of Minnesota. It is not surprising that
these men yielded to the blandishments of the Administration, when
it is remembered that Seward was the power behind the throne in
the White House, and that Chase, on the bench of the Supreme Court,
was giving the sanction of his high station to the policy of the Presi-
dent. In all these was the leaven that soon lifted them out of the
Republican party and allied them with a faction with which they
could have no natural sympathy.

The great measures of the 39th Congress were the establishment

of the Freedmen's Bureau, the Civil
Rights Bill, the Fourteenth Amend-
ment to the Constitution, the Recon-
struction Act, and the Tenure of Office

One of the last acts of the 38th
Congress was the establishment of a
Freedmen's Bureau. It soon turned
out that the measure was premature
in its adoption and inadequate in
its provisions. General Oliver O.
Howard was appointed Commission-
er under this act by Secretary
Stanton, with the natural result that
was sure to accrue to any one who at-
tempted to thwart the Southern con-
spiracy for the subjection of the

blacks reproach, accusation, calumny, obloquy. Howard was a
man of irreproachable character and great ability. His record as
a soldier was unusually distinguished, and the inflexibility of his
courage was emphasized by an empty sleeve. A selfish man or even a
prudent one would have declined the position. The duties with which
the Commissioner was charged were possible of execution only in time
of war, and the act was to expire in one year from the end of the
rebellion. The war was over before it was possible to put it into
execution. By one of its provisions the Commissioner was authorized,
under the direction of the President, to set apart, for the use of loyal
refugees and freedmen, such tracts of land within the insurrectionary
States as were abandoned, or to which the United States Government
had acquired title by confiscation, sale, or otherwise. Of these



lands a tract of not more than forty acres might be assigned to
every male citizen, whether refugee or freednian; and the person to
whom it was so assigned was to be protected in the use and enjoyment
of the land for the term of three years. These provisions, it was said
at the time, induced every negro in the South to expect " forty acres
and a mule " as a gift from a paternal government. But for the
President's policy of restoration the Bureau might have been able to
go out of business at the end of the year, or, if continued, have been
charged only with the duty of affording succor to the indigent. The
false hopes of speedy independence of Congress that his policy gave
to the Southern States led to the legislative enactments that pre-
vented their return to the Union during Johnson's administration,
and compelled a Supplemental Act for the protection of the freedmeu.
This bill was more comprehensive and far-reaching than the previous
act, and met with determined opposition from the Democrats in Con-
gress, and was vetoed by the President. Because of some imperfec-
tions, it failed to pass over the veto in the Senate. The Republicans
who had voted for the bill, but now voted to sustain the President,
were Messrs. Dixou, Doolittle, Morgan, Norton, and Van Winkle.
The course of Mr. Morgan, of New York, and Mr. Van Winkle, of West
Virginia, was at first the occasion of some uneasiness. It was feared
that Mr. Morgan had yielded to the persuasions of Secretary Seward,
and that Mr. Van Winkle had come under the reactionary influences
that were known to be active in his State. A bill not so comprehen-
sive, but with enlarging provisions to make the existing act more
effective, originating in the House, was then accepted by the Senate.
The President vetoed this measure also, but it was passed over his
veto and became a law. There was a great outcry against the Freed-
men's Bureau all over the country on the part of the Democrats, who
had proclaimed the war a failure two years before, and who were now
eager to sustain the South in the re-enslavement of the negroes. This
opposition was especially exerted to prevent the election of the Re-
publican candidates for Congress in I860, but the country was in no
temper to accept the policy of the President and his Democratic

The Civil Rights bill, designed to confer upon the manumitted
slaves of the South the civil rights enjoyed by the white man, except
the right of suffrage, to give them equality in all things before the
law, and to nullify every State law, wherever existing, that should be
in conflict with the enlarged provisions of the Federal statute, was
passed by the Senate, with only two Republicans, Messrs. Doolittle
and Norton, voting against it, and by the House, without a dissenting
Republican vote. The President exercised his right of veto, but the



bill was speedily passed in spite of the President's objections. When
the vote was about to be taken in the Senate an incident occurred
that shows the temper of the time. Mr. Cowan asked that the vote
be deferred as a courtesy to Mr. Dixon, of Connecticut, and Mr.
Wright, of New Jersey, who were ill. The Democratic Senators were
eager for the courtesy, but it was opposed with a greater show of
feeling than is usual in the Senate. " If the President of the United
States," said bluff Ben Wade, " can impose his authority upon a
question like this and can by a veto compel Congress to submit to his
dictation, he is an emperor and a despot. Because I believe the great
question of Congressional power and authority is at stake here, I
yield to no importunities on the other side. I feel myself justified in

taking every advantage which the
Almighty has put in my hands to
defend the power and authority of
this body. I will not yield to these
appeals of comity on a question
like this, but I will tell the Presi-
dent and everybody else that if
God Almighty has stricken a mem-
ber of this body so that he can not
be here to uphold the dictation of
a despot, I thank Him for it, and I
will take every advantage of it I

The Senate adjourned, notwith-
standing Mr. Wade's excited ap-
peal, but when the vote was taken
on the following day Mr. Dixon
was still absent. The vote was only
33 to 15. If Mr. Dixon had been in

his seat and Mr. Stockton, of New Jersey, had not been unseated, the
necessary two-thirds could not have been obtained. Mr. Van Winkle
again voted with the little band of Republican dissidents, and there
was one new defection Mr. Lane, of Kansas. Lane's defection was
not only alarming to the Republicans, but it was very sad in its con-
sequences. General Lane had a remarkable history. Both he and
his father, Amos Lane, had been Democratic Representatives in Con-
gress from Indiana. James H. Lane was at the head of an Indiana
regiment of volunteers at the battle of Buena Vista, and as a Douglas
Democrat, afterward, his ardor carried him to Kansas during the
exciting conflict on that battleground for slavery. No one contrib-
uted more toward making Kansas a Free State, and his services were



rewarded by his election to the United States Senate when Kansas
was admitted into the Union. Mr. Lincoln's administration had no
bolder champion, and slavery no more inveterate enemy. He must
have labored under a temporary aberration when he voted to sustain
the President's veto. " The mistake has been made," he said, sor-
rowfully, soon after his vote was given. " I would give all I possess
if it were undone." Afterward his mind gave way altogether, and he
committed suicide, July 11, 1866.

In the House the strength of the Democratic opposition \vas in-
creased from 36 to 41, but the Administration Republicans never
became formidable.

The joint resolution reported from the Committee on Reconstruc-
tion proposed an amendment to the Constitution which embraced
four propositions: (1) A definition and safeguard of citizenship; (2) a

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 61)