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basis of representation in Congress that would not allow the white
men of the South an apportionment based on four and one-half mil-
lions of disfranchised negroes; (3) restraint of the pardoning power in
the qualification of Senators and Representatives in Congress, Elec-
tors of President and Vice-President, and civil and military officers
of the United States; and (4) the inviolability of the national debt, and
security against the assumption of any debts incurred in aid of in-
surrection or rebellion against the United States, or claim for the loss
or emancipation of any slave.

The debate on these propositions in both Houses, especially on
that relating to the basis of representation, was elaborate
and able, but it has no great historical interest. In the Sen-
ate the lead was taken by Mr. Fessenden. Mr. Sunmer, as usual, in-
dulged himself in a disquisition of learned length and thundering
sound, but was more than usually inapt in practical statesmanship.
He was for universal suffrage before it was clear that it was either
desirable or necessary. It would be impossible to follow the sugges-
tions, objections, and amendments affecting these four propositions,
except in great detail, which would be tedious and not germane to the
purpose of this history. The Fourteenth Amendment, as adopted, is
the real beginning of its effect upon the Republican party and subse-
quent legislation. These will be seen in the Reconstruction acts
adopted before the close of the 39th and in the 40th Congress.

The first State to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment was Connecti-
cut, June 30, 1866 precisely a fortnight after its submission. New
Hampshire followed on the 7th of July, and Tennessee twelve days
later. The result was that Tennessee w r as restored to her place in
the Union by joint resolution, and her Senators and Representatives
admitted to their seats before the adjournment of Congress on the



28th of July. In the other ten of the insurrectionary States the
amendment was rejected.

Two days after the adjournment of Congress occurred the savage
political massacre in New Orleans. The Convention to revise the
Constitution of Louisiana in 1864 had been called to reassemble by
its president. The purpose was to submit a new Constitution to the
people of the State for their approval. The right of the Convention
to do this was probably imaginary, but it was a question for the

courts and not for a mob. A mob
undertook to settle it by assassi-
nation. About forty persons were
killed outright and fully one hun-
dred and fifty were wounded,
many of them mortally. The riot
was the result of the connivance
of the MaA'or, and it had the par-
ticipation of the police. General
Sheridan, in command of the mili-
tary department, reported official-
ly that " the killing was in a man
ner so unnecessary and atrocious
as to compel me to say it w r as mur-
der." Other parts of the South
were emulous of the bloody dis-
tinction in which New Orleans

had pre-eminence. The negro race, in widely scattered communities,
was subjected to unprovoked butchery. This defiance of its authority
left only one way open to Congress military government. A wave of
indignation swept over the North that was voiced in the autumn

In the 40th Congress the House of Representatives, chosen in 18G6,
was Republican three to one. The supremacy of the Republican party
over the combined forces of the administration in the loyal States
was overwhelming and enduring. In New York the desertion of Sew-
ard and Weed and Raymond was sternly rebuked by the re-election
of Governor Fenton. In New York City the Tribune, with fresh vigor
in its editorial direction, supplanted the Times as the organ of the
party. In the State, Roscoe Conkling obtained a supremacy that he
maintained until he rashly threw it away in a quarrel with Garfield's
administration. In Pennsylvania General Cameron, flaunted by the
Curtin faction, which had always marched in the rear in all great
popular movements affecting slavery, regained the leadership and
held it until his political enemies in the party sought and found a




refuge with the rank and file of the Democracy. In Ohio, in Indiana,
and in Illinois, in all the States of the Northwest, the Republican
victories were repetitions of the triumphs of 1864. The President's
policy was rebuked with a unanimity and resentment never before
exhibited by the people in the condemnation of a recreant Adminis-

The 40th Congress may be considered a virtual continuation of its
predecessor, for provision had been
made for its assembling' immediately
upon the adjournment of the 39th Con-
gress. Some changes had occurred in
the composition of both Houses, but
there was no change in the determined
attitude of the majority toward the
President and the South. The Senate
received some new members, who were
destined to exert a powerful influence
over Congress and the county. Roscoe
Conkling succeeded Ira Harris from
New York; Simon Cameron took the
place previously filled by the eccentric-
Edgar Cowan for Pennsylvania; Oliver
P. Morton replaced Henry S. Lane, of In-
diana, and Justin S. Morrill, of Ver-
mont, began a career that was to exceed {\ -\j
in length Benton's thirty years in the

Senate. George F. Edmunds had succeeded Solomon Foot in the pre-
vious Congress. Other new Senators were James W. Patterson, of New
Hampshire; Charles D. Drake, as the successor of B. Gratz Brown, of
Missouri; Cornelius Cole, of California, and Henry W. Corbett, of Ore-
gon. In the House the military element had noteworthy additions.
General John A. Logan came back from Illinois, and General Cadwal-
ader C. Washburn from Wisconsin. A distinguished Union soldier was
a Representative from Iowa General Grenville M. Dodge. General
Benjamin F. Butler, of Massachusetts, appeared in the House for the
first time. One of the Representatives from Indiana was Morton C.
Hunter, who had been colonel of an Indiana regiment and commanded
a brigade in Sherman's Atlanta campaign. Other Representatives
with good war records w r ere John Coburn, of Indiana, and Austin
Blair, the War Governor of Michigan. Norman B. Judd, Lincoln's
early friend, represented one of the Chicago districts. Of the new
Republican members, who had yet to win their spurs but became
prominent, the most noteworthy were John A. Peters, of Maine;


Jacob H. Ela, of New Hampshire; Worthington C. Smith, of Vermont;
Henry H. Starkweather, of Connecticut; William H. Robertson and
Dennis McCarthy, of New York; George A. Halsey, of New Jersey;
Henry L. Cake, of Pennsylvania, and Green B. Raum, of Illinois.
Among the Democrats the only one to win distinction was James B.
Beck, of Kentucky. Henry J .Raymond had wrecked his career in
Congress, and there were no Administration Republicans except
Charles G. Phelps, of Maryland, and Thomas E. Noel, of Missouri.

The President's last message to the 39th Congress was more con-
ciliatory in tone than had been anticipated, but he showed no appre-
ciation of the hostility to his policy in the North, and restated his
case as if it was still a living issue. His position only excited derision.
His course had the effect of preventing the reinstatement of such of
the Southern States as would have been willing to follow the example
of Tennessee. Alabama would have reconsidered the rejection of the
Fourteenth Amendment, but Mr. Johnson encouraged the rebel ele-
ment to continue its resistance. The result of this persistence was
the Reconstruction bill reported by Mr. Stevens, February 6, 1867.
It was the first really drastic measure proposed for the government
of the unreconstructed South. The ten disorganized States were di-
vided into five military districts. The civil power was practically ob-
literated. It was a measure that should have been adopted instead
of the Administration policy at the close of the war, but the same in-
fluences that were against a special session of Congress in 1865 were
still operative in 1867. Some true and tried Republicans were doubt-
ful of its utility even when the necessity for it became imperative. It
w r as not passed without hesitation and reluctance. As the Congress
neared its close, it looked as if all legislation on the subject of Recon-
struction would be defeated. All the Republican differences were
finally adjusted, how r ever, and with some modifications the bill was
passed. The President returned it with his veto. His argument
against placing the States under military rule was cogently urged,
and if the Administration and Congress had been more in accord it
might have proved effective. The veto had been delayed until the last
day permitted by the Constitution. It did not reach the House, in
which the bill had originated, until Saturday, and Congress would
adjourn on Monday at noon. The minority w r as determined to prevent
its passage by dilatory motions, or " talking against time." In spite
of the opposition the rules were suspended and the bill was passed by
135 ayes to 48 noes. The Senate concurred by 38 ayes to 10 noes.
The first of the drastic Reconstruction measures was a law.

Equally hurried with the passage of the Reconstruction bill over
the Presidential veto was the action of Congress on the Tenure-of -Office


bill. It was a measure previously unknown in the usage of the Fed-
eral Government. It grew out of the excitement and bitterness inci-
dent to the conflict between Congress and the President and a fear
of the aggressions of the Executive. It was not a measure in conso-
nance with the traditions or tendencies of the Republican party, and
it was adopted with doubts and misgivings. It was not passed with
any feeling of satisfaction or pride by the party, and when the Ad-
ministration ceased to vex the Congress it was quickly repealed, be-
cause it was felt to be personally degrading to the incumbent of the
Presidential office.

After the adjournment of the 39th Congress the 40th Congress was
speedily organized. Mr. Colfax was again elected Speaker. The
principal business of the session was to perfect the Reconstruction
Act of the previous Congress. This provided for impartial suffrage,
but it was lacking in the detail necessary to its practical operation.
The first of the Supplementary bills was passed on the 19th of March.
This bill declared that " if the Constitution shall be ratified by a
majority of the votes of the registered electors qualified to vote, at
least one-half of all the registered voters voting upon the question, a
copy of the same, duly certified, shall be transmitted to the President
of the United States, who shall forthwith transmit the same to Con-
gress, and if it shall appear to Congress that the election was one at
which all the registered and qualified electors in the State had an
opportunity to vote freely and without restraint, fear, or the influence
of fraud, and if Congress shall be satisfied that such Constitution
meets the approval of a majority of all the qualified electors in the
State, and if the said Constitution shall be declared by Congress
to be in conformity with the provisions of the act to which this is
supplementary, and the other provisions of said act shall have been
complied with and the said Constitution shall have been approved by
Congress, the State shall be declared entitled to representation, and
Senators and Representatives shall be admitted therefrom as therein

When Congress adjourned on the 30th of March it w r as for a recess
until the 3d of July. In the meantime Henry Stanbery, who had be-
come Attorney-General upon the reconstruction of the Cabinet in
1866, gave two opinions intended to neutralize the effects of both
acts. The result was that the July session was devoted to the passage
of a second Supplementary Act, again over the President's veto, to
meet the objections and obstructions suggested by the Attorney-
General. With this act the Reconstruction measures of Congress were
complete, and General Grant was invested with an authority over
the recalcitrant States that was independent of the will or power of
the President.


The Military Governors assigned to the new and responsible duties
under the Reconstruction acts were Major-General Schofield for the
district of Virginia; Major-General Sickles for the district of North
and South Carolina; Major-General Pope for the district of Georgia,
Alabama, and Florida; Major-General Ord for the district of Missis-
sippi and Arkansas, and Major-General Sheridan for the district of
Louisiana and Texas. The President was hostile to Pope, Sickles,
and Sheridan, and through his intervention they were replaced by
Meade, Canby, and Hancock, respectively. Under these military
rulers the real work of Reconstruction in the rebellious States w r as
begun and carried forward to completion. Arkansas having ratified
the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and complied with
the provisions of the Reconstruction acts, a bill was introduced in
the House by Mr. Stevens, May 7, 1868, to admit the State to repre-
sentation in Congress. Similar measures soon followed for the States
of North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida.
All these bills were vetoed by the President and passed over his veto.
Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas w r ere not restored until 1870.

With the return of the States to the Union under the terms of Con-
gress military government ceased, and the period of Reconstruction
came to an end.




Character and Acts of President Johnson Cabinet Changes The
Philadelphia Convention of 1866 The Arm-in- Arm Fiasco Mr.
Raymond's Last Effort Northern and Southern Conventions-
Leaders For and Against the Administration James Speed-
Address of the Southern Loyalists " Swinging Around the
Circle " The President's Stump Speeches Soldiers' Conven-
tion at Cleveland Soldiers' and Seamen's Convention at Pitts-
burg Efforts at Impeachment in Congress Removal of Secre-
tary Stautou The President Impeached by the House of Repre-
sentatives Tried by the Senate The Managers on Behalf of
the House The Counsel for the President Impeachment Fails
A Mistaken Remedy.

HE impeachment of President Johnson by the House of Rep-
resentatives was the closing drama of the stirring epoch
of Reconstruction. The undertaking was passionate and
ill-advised, but the President must take a share of the
blame because of his infirmities of temper, his want of tact, and his
persistent wrong-headedness. He inspired not only political enmities,
but intense personal dislike. His bald egotism and coarse invective
were the real foundations of the detestation in which he was held by
the people. His bold assumption of the right to restore the rebellious
States to their places in the Union without consulting the Congress,
his inflexible adhesion to his own policy as the only plan of Restora-
tion, and his unexampled exercise of the veto power made even even-
tempered men in the House and Senate indignant, and passionate men
his implacable foes. His words as well as his acts were his constant
accusers. In all his personal attributes he was the opposite of Lincoln,
the beloved, and this made him to be hated all the more fiercely when
he claimed that he had inherited his policy of Reconstruction from
his lamented predecessor. It was impossible that a man of his coarse
moral and intellectual fiber, his egregious vanity and smirking am-
bition, and his dogged persistence and devious methods should escape

Another disadvantage from which Mr. Johnson suffered, from the be-
ginning to the end of his term, was due to the manner in which he came
to his high office. There is an ingrained prejudice in the hearts of the


American people against Vice-Presidents who become President. This
prejudice owes its existence, no doubt, to the conflict between John
Tyler and his party after the death of the first President Harrison.
Tyler's quarrel with his Cabinet and then with his party, made the
office ominous for all those who came after him when its possibilities
are realized. Mr. Filluiore was almost as unfortunate as Mr. Tyler.
Unlike Tyler, Fillmore did not find a refuge in the Democratic party,
but he disappointed the expectations of the men who nominated and
elected him, reversed the policy of his predecessor, and divided his
party and exposed it to defeat and disruption. Harrison's Secretary
of State, Daniel Webster, adhered to Tyler's administration to the
detriment of his own prestige, while Clay organized the Whig party
against the President. Webster again became Secretary of State in
Fillmore's administration, but even with the sympathy and assistance
of Clay he was unable to protect it against the assaults of Seward
and the young men among the Whigs. Now Seward, as Secretary of
State in Johnson's administration, was to drink draughts as bitter as
those he had administered to Webster fifteen years before. The por-
tents of an unfortunate Presidency, that Tyler and Fillmore had left
as a warning to Johnson, were not long in asserting themselves with
all their dread significance.

Still another danger to which the third of the accidental Presidents
was exposed was the eagerness of Andrew Johnson to emulate An-
drew Jackson. The two men were alike only in the names their
mothers gave them. Andre\v Jackson w r as a man not of words, but of
action. Andrew Johnson was fluent of speech, but not quick to act.
Jackson was impulsive as well as tenacious. Johnson was tenacious,
but not impulsive. Flatterers, however, played upon the weakness
of the second Andrew, and convinced him that he had all the heroic
qualities it was the fashion to impute to the first. Johnson was ready
to believe that he could treat Stevens and Congress as Jackson treated
Riddle and the Bank that he could bring South Carolina back into
the Union with a hand as mighty as Jackson had shown in holding
her there against the nullifiers. The delusion would have been amus-
ing if it had not proved so disastrous.

It was, of course, impossible that President Johnson should pursue
the policy that he had marked out for his Administration with a
Cabinet inherited from President Lincoln. The first break came on
July 1, 1866, when William Dennison, the Postmaster-General, re-
signed. Dennison made no secret of the cause of his retirement his
inability to accept Johnson's plan of Reconstruction. He was suc-
ceeded by Alexander W. Randall, of Wisconsin, who was a rather
blatant supporter of the President's policy. A week later James


Speed resigned as Attorney-General, and was succeeded by Henry
Staubery, of Ohio. Speed resigned because the Administration was
rapidly drifting toward the Democratic party, and Stanbery accepted
for the same reason. Speed's resignation was followed by that of
James Harlan, Secretary of the Interior, and the vacancy was filled by
the appointment of Orville H. Browning, a Republican with Demo-
cratic sympathies. This left of the original Lincoln Cabinet only
Seward and Welles, with Stanton, the Secretary of War, and McCul-
loch, the Secretary of the Treasury. Stanton and Johnson w r ere at
daggers' points, and McCulloch was not a partisan. If Stanton had
resigned in 1806, it is possible that the impeachment, of which his
removal was the provoking cause two years later, would have come
earlier and with greater effect.

The inciting cause of the Cabinet crisis was the determination to
form an Administration party in conjunction with the Northern Dem-
ocrats and the Southern Restorationists. It took shape in what was
called the " arm-in-arm convention," which met in Philadelphia, Au-
gust 14, 1866. It was the intention to make it a very imposing demon-
stration of Administration Republicans and all shades of Democrats,
North and South. The number of prominent Republicans who par-
ticipated was not great. New York, through the influence of Secre-
tary Seward, had the strongest and most noteworthy delegation, the
representatives including Thurlow Weed, Henry J. Raymond, John
A. Dix, Marshall (). Roberts, and Robert S. Hale. Three Administra-
tion Senators Dixon, Cowan, and Doolittle and two of the new
members of the Cabinet Randall and Browning were active in the
movement, and participated in the Convention. Montgomery Blair
consented to become a delegate. Democrats w r ho had been famous
for their virulence during the war attended in such numbers that
the Convention was described as a " nest of copperheads." Among
the men known chiefly for their violent opposition to the war were
Clement L. Vallandigham, of Ohio; George W. W r oodward, Francis
W. Hughes, and James Campbell, of Pennsylvania; Fernando and
Benjamin Wood, and James Brooks, of New York, and Edward J.
Phelps, of Vermont. All of these, and many others in the Conven-
tion, had been as vicious as Vallandigham in denouncing President
Lincoln, but Vallandigham was made the scapegoat for the sins of the
other Peace Democrats. Some of his fellow-conspirators refused to sit
with him, and he consented to withdraw. Two years later he was
conspicuous in the Democratic National Convention at New York.

There were delegates from every Southern State, and it was re-
solved to emphasize the national character of the assemblage by a
striking spectacle of the reunion of the North and South. A building


called the " Wigwam " had been specially adapted for the use of the
Convention, and it was agreed that the delegates should enter this
vast auditorium by a joint procession of the States of the two sections,
arm in arm. Massachusetts and South Carolina, typified by General
Darius N. Couch and ex-Speaker James L. Orr, were placed in the
lead. This spectacular exhibition was mercilessly ridiculed in the
ensuing campaign. The " Wigwam " became " Noah's Ark," and it
was said that there w r ent in, two and two with Noah into the ark, " of
clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of
everything that creepeth upon the earth." The great purpose of the
Convention was to insist upon the right of every State to representa-
tion in Congress, but with the fatality that is apt to attend the efforts
of very clever men, Mr. Raymond in his speech carried his argument
to its logical sequence.

" It is alleged," he said, " that the con-
dition of the Southern States and people is
not such as renders safe their readmission
to a share in the government of the coun-
try; that they are still disloyal in sentiment
and purpose; and that neither the honor, the
credit, nor the interest of the Nation would
be safe if they were readmitted to a share in
its councils. . . . W T e have no right for
such reasons to deny to any portion of the
States or people rights expressly conferred
upon them b}^ the Constitution of the United
States, and we have no right to distrust the

GEN. DARIUS N. COUCH. purpose or the abilit}^ of the people of the

Union to protect and defend, under all con-
tingencies and by whatever means may be required, its honor and its
welfare." The fat was in the fire. The Republican masses were in no
mood to accept a sentiment so repugnant to humanity and justice in
the existing condition of the South.

The arm-in-arm, Noah's Ark Convention was followed a fortnight
later by two other conventions in Philadelphia. They met on 'the
same day and acted in unison, although they were separately or-
ganized. One was composed entirely of loyalists from the South
the other of conspicuous Republicans in the North. The Southern
convention comprised many men whose loyalty had been put to the
double test of personal courage and personal interest. Johnson's
Provisional Governor, Andrew J. Hamilton, came all the w r ay from
Texas; Governor Brow r nlow "Parson" Brownlow 7 headed the
delegation from Tennessee; John Minor Botts was one of the delegates


from Virginia. James Speed, of Kentucky, just out of the Cabinet,
was made the permanent chairman. In the Convention there were
many conspicuous Republicans from the border States besides Mr.
Speed the venerable Rev. Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge, of Kentucky;
Senator Creswell and Francis Thomas, of Maryland; Governor Bore-
man and Nathan Goff, of West Virginia; and Governor Fletcher, of
Missouri. In the two conventions was a number of the leading editors

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 61)