Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
—In considering the question, it is proposed, 1, to give, as briefly as possible, the successive theories of reconstruction; 2, to detail the work as it was finally done; and 3, 4, to consider its failures and its successes. In so doing, there are certain precedents which are often referred to by all of them, and these may as well be given now, for reference. —The Guarantee Clause. The constitution (Art. IV., § 4) speaks as follows: "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government." To this was often added the following paragraph from the powers of congress (Art. I., § 8): "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the government of the United States or in any department or officer thereof." This, it was claimed, gave congress power to pass all laws which it should consider "necessary and proper" for carrying into effect the guarantee clause. This would have been undeniable if the language of the clause had been "congress shall guarantee," or "the government shall guarantee," or even any "department or officer shall guarantee"; but the peculiar phraseology, "the United States shall guarantee," seems to exclude all these interpretations, and give the power concurrently to all the governmental agents, executive, legislative and judicial. Even in this view, however, the case of Luther vs. Borden would seem to show that congress has the power to enact laws to carry into execution its concurrent power in the premises, and that the president is bound to execute them.
—The Resolutions of 1861. At the special session of 1861 joint resolutions were introduced to define the objects of the war. That which was pertinent to this subject was as follows: "* * That this war is not prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the constitution and all laws made in pursuance thereof, and to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality and rights of the several states unimpaired; that as soon as these objects are accomplished, the war ought to cease." It passed the house, July 22, 1861, 117 to 2; and the senate, July 26, 30 to 5.
—The Law of 1861. The act of July 13, 1861, authorized the president, when he should have called out the militia against insurgents claiming, without dispute, to "act under the authority of any state or states," to proclaim the inhabitants of the insurgent states to be in insurrection against the United States; and ordered commercial intercourse with the insurgent states to cease. Accordingly the president issued a proclamation, Aug. 16, declaring the inhabitants of Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia (except those west of the Alleghanies), North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida, to be in insurrection.
—For the blockade of 1861 see
—I. THEORIES OF RECONSTRUCTION. As a summary of the changes of theory, we may say that the war was begun under the theory of "restoration," and that this theory was persistently maintained by the democrats to the end; that the presidential theory was developed by Lincoln in 1863, and carried out by Johnson in 1865, but fell back under the hands of the latter into a modification of the restoration theory; that the Sumner and Stevens theories received no formal ratification from any quarter; but that congress, having advanced so far as the Davis-Wade plan of 1864, was pressed by the force of contest with the presidential theory into a plan of its own in 1867, consisting of the Davis-Wade plan, increased by the suffrage features of the Sumner theory, and the whole based on a modification of the Stevens theory of the suspension of the constitution.
—1. Restoration. The war began under the influence of the idea that there was "not one of these states in which there were not ample numbers of Union men to maintain a state government after the rebellion shall have been put down." There were some warnings to the contrary. "It may be," said Baker, of Oregon, in the senate, "that instead of finding, within a year, loyal states sending members to congress and replacing their senators upon this floor, we may have to reduce them to the condition of territories, and send from Massachusetts and Illinois governors to control them; and, if there were need to do so, I would risk even the stigma of being despotic and oppressive rather than risk the perpetuity of the union of these states." But such warnings were unheeded, and the general feeling was well represented by the resolutions of 1861. The actual shock of war, and the evidently universal transfer of allegiance in the south to the confederate states (see that title), at once worked a change. In December, 1861, the resolutions of July were again offered in the house, but were laid on the table by a vote of 71 to 65. The same result with increasing majorities met subsequent reintroductions of the resolutions. In December, 1862, these resolutions took another shape, that of a simple declaration that the war was prosecuted only to maintain the integrity of the Union and of the states as they were at the beginning of the war. In this form they were ruled out of order, or laid on the table, by majorities small at first but steadily increasing. They owed their defeat mainly to the fact that they squinted at slavery and the admission of West Virginia if confined to the question of restoration, they could as yet hardly have been defeated. Even Vallandigham's resolutions, long, cumbrous, and containing the invidious word "professedly" in reference to the original object of the war, were only defeated by a vote of 79 to 50. Generally, however, democratic members hardly felt it to be necessary to defend their position vigorously until reconstruction began to loom up plainly in 1863-4. Pendleton's statement of democratic views may then be taken as authoritative. "These acts of secession were either valid or invalid. If they are valid, they separated the state from the Union. If they are invalid, they are void; they have no effect; the state officers who act upon them are rebels to the federal government; the states are not destroyed; their constitutions are not abrogated; their officers are committing illegal acts, for which they are liable to punishment; the states have never left the Union, but so soon as their officers shall perform their duties, or other officers shall assume their places, will again perform the duties imposed, and enjoy the privileges conferred, by the federal compact, and this, not by virtue of a new ratification of the constitution, nor a new admission by the federal government, but by virtue of the original ratification, and the constant, uninterrupted maintenance of position in the federal Union since that date. Acts of secession are not invalid to destroy the Union, and yet valid to destroy the state governments and the political privileges of their citizens." This ground was held thereafter by the democratic conventions of all the states, and by the national convention of 1868, but it was unsuccessful. Indeed, it was worse. Nothing is more curious in the congressional votes on this question than the manner in which democratic consistency and persistency thwarted all propositions for mild terms to the insurrectionary states. The names of democrats and "radical" republicans, of Fernando Wood and Thaddeus Stevens, appear side by side in voting down the successive and increasingly severe propositions for reconstruction, until, after 1865, the "radical" republicans, falling back a step, united with the moderate republicans and swamped the democrats.
—Kindred to this general principle were the constant demands of the democrats for a national convention of states. They began July 15, 1861, when Benjamin Wood, of New York, offered a resolution recommending such a convention, which was tabled by a party vote of 92 to 51; and they continued until the democratic national convention of 1864 demanded "a cessation of hostilities with a view to an ultimate convention of all the states." Toward the end of the war, and particularly just before the presidential election of 1864, many southern authorities inclined to accept this scheme, if offered to the seceding states; but they still insisted that the states were not to be bound by the action of the convention.
—Another kindred proposition, offered in December, 1861, and several times thereafter, was to appoint ex-Presidents Fillmore and Pierce, Chief Justice Taney, Edward Everett, and seven other commissioners, to confer with a like number from the seceding states for the preservation of the Union. It was either left unconsidered or tabled.
—In the conference at Hampton Roads, Feb. 2, 1865, between Alex. II. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, John A. Campbell, President Lincoln, and Secretary Seward, Mr. Stephens says that he asked "what position the confederate states would occupy toward the others, if they were then to abandon the war? Would they be admitted to congress? Mr. Lincoln very promptly replied that his own individual opinion was that they ought to be. He also thought they would be, but he could not enter into any stipulations upon the subject. His own opinion was, that, when the resistance ceased and the national authority was recognized, the states would be immediately restored to their practical relations to the Union." This statement, however, is opposed to the known fact that the president was then fairly committed to the presidential theory of reconstruction.
—The last attempt at "restoration" was the memorandum of April 18, 1865, between Generals W. T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston. It provided for the disbandment of the confederate forces at their state capitals, the re-establishment of the federal courts, and "the recognition by the executive of the United States of the several state governments on their officers and legislatures taking the oath prescribed by the constitution of the United States; and, where conflicting state governments have resulted from the war, the legitimacy of all shall be submitted to the supreme court of the United States." The agreement was repudiated by President Johnson, and an unconditional surrender took its place, April 26.
—2. The Presidential Theory. President Lincoln seems to have held from the beginning, that while, as commander-in-chief, he was bound to carry the war into the heart of the seceding states, he was also bound, as civil executive, to endeavor to restore civil relations with the states themselves. His theory is detailed in his proclamation of Dec. 8, 1863, and his defense of it in his annual message of the same date. The proclamation, 1, offered amnesty to all but specified classes of leading men; 2, declared, that a state government might be reconstructed as soon as one-tenth of the voters of 1860, qualified by state laws, "excluding all others," should take the prescribed oath (see
—So long as slavery was not a point of attack, it is evident that restoration and the presidential theory were very much the same thing, the only new point in the latter being the exclusion of white voters unable or unwilling to take the oath. In this sense, Virginia (see that state) was restored or reconstructed from the beginning: the Pierpont government was recognized by the president at first as the government of all Virginia, then of the conquered portion of Virginia proper (after the separation of West Virginia), and at the close of the war it superseded the rebellious government of Virginia, without objection from any quarter. Nor did it lack congressional recognition, in both its aspects: congress admitted West Virginia by virtue of the formal assent of the "Virginia government" of Pierpont; and the separate action of the two houses, according to the presidential theory, was illustrated by the refusal of the house to admit Pierpont members after 1863, while the Pierpont senators held their seats, one until 1865, and the other until his death, in 1864, when the senate refused to admit his successor.
—A new feature came in with the president's adoption of an antislavery policy, in September, 1862. Thereafter, the presidential theory included the abolition of slavery, and a recognition of the anti-slavery laws and proclamations in the amnesty oath. In other points, it remained the same: no legislation by congress, and separate action of the houses on the admission of members. In this way, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee (see those states) were reconstructed, in 1863-5. The legality of these governments was always stoutly maintained by President Lincoln. In his proclamation of 1864, hereafter referred to, in regard to the Davis- Wade bill, he says that he is "also unprepared to declare that the free-state constitutions and governments already adopted and installed in Arkansas and Louisiana shall be set aside and held for naught, thereby repelling and discouraging, as to further effort, the loyal citizens who have set up the same."
—The counter-proclamation of Davis and Wade alleged that an unsuccessful expedition into Florida had the same object, to organize a presidential government. However true that may be, the operation of the presidential theory, in its second aspect under Lincoln, stopped with Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. Even these examples were fortified by the separate action of the houses upon them: the Louisiana representatives were admitted in February, 1863, while the senators were refused admission, as were the representatives also after March 4, 1863; the Arkansas senators and representatives did not apply for admission until 1864, and then the temper of congress had risen so high that they were refused; the admission of the Tennessee senators and representatives, in July, 1866, was, as is hereafter noted, the point where the congressional theory superseded its predecessor.
—Congress adjourned, March 3, 1865, until Dec. 4 following; Lincoln died April 15, 1865; and Johnson succeeded to his theory, with far inferior prospects of success. Precedents were in his favor, the admission of West Virginia, the presence of senators from Virginia 1861-5, of representatives from Virginia 1861-3, and of representatives from Louisiana in 1863; he was supported by Lincoln's name and cabinet; and, above all, he had a clear field for nine months before congress could meet. Against him were his unfortunate temper, his inability to temporize, and his controlling sympathy with non-slaveholding southerners. It was certain, that, at the first sign of failure in the presidential theory, popular opinion would strike at Johnson far more willingly than at Lincoln, and that Johnson was far less qualified than Lincoln to meet or evade the attack.
—Gen. Johnston surrendered April 26, 1865, and May 29 following, President Johnson began to put into operation the presidential theory, accompanying it with a new amnesty proclamation (see
—3. The Sumner Theory. Mr. Sumner offered a series of resolutions in the senate, Feb. 11, 1862, "declaratory of the relations between the United States and the territory once occupied by certain states." The preamble recited the action of the several seceding states, through their governments, in abjuring their duties, renouncing their allegiance, levying war on the government, and forming a new confederacy. The resolutions were nine in number, as follows: 1, that an ordinance of secession is inoperative and void against the constitution, but is an abdication by the state of its rights under the constitution, and thence-forward the state, felo de se, ceases to exist, and its soil becomes a territory, under the exclusive jurisdiction of congress; 2, that secession is a usurpation, and action under it is without legal support: 3, that the suicide of a state puts an end to any peculiar institution upheld by the state's sole authority; 4, that slavery is such an institution; 5, that it is the duty of congress to put a practical as well as a legal end to slavery; 6, that any recognition of slavery is aid and comfort to the rebellion; 7, that it is also a denial of the rights of persons who have been made free; 8, that, as the allegiance of all the inhabitants of the seceding states is still due to the United States, the protection of the United States is equally due to all the inhabitants, regardless of color class, or previous condition of servitude; 9, that congress will proceed to establish republican forms of government in the "vacated territory," taking care to provide for the protection of all the inhabitants. The essence of the resolutions is the idea of "state suicide"; that no territory can be compelled to assume, and no state can be compelled to retain, the public rights and duties of a state against its will; that, as Brownson expresses it, "a territory by coming into the Union becomes a state, and a state by going out of the Union becomes a territory." The resolutions were never formally considered or adopted; but their theory remained, and undoubtedly colored to some extent the final work of reconstruction.
—4. The Stevens Theory. From the outbreak of the rebellion until the end of reconstruction but two parties consistently maintained a consistent theory, the democratic party and Thaddeus Stevens (see his name). The democratic theory has already been given. The Stevens theory may be briefly stated as the suspension of the constitution in any part of the country in which resistance to its execution was too strong to be suppressed by peaceful methods. He held that the mere fact of resistance suspended the constitution for the time; that it could not truly be said that the constitution and laws were in force where they could not be enforced; that the termination of the suspension was to be decided by the victorious party; that, if the rebellion was successful, the suspension would evidently be permanent; and that, if the rebellion was suppressed, the suspension would continue until the law-making and war-making power should decide that the resistance had been honestly abandoned. Here the theory shaded into the indefinite "was-power" (see that title). But it differed more than it agreed. Republicans generally held that armies were marching and battles were fought and states were reconstructed throughout the south by virtue of the constitution and its was power, and they were forced to strain the written instrument into the most extraordinary shapes, and to take lines of action which were radically contradictory. To cite a single example: unless the Pierpont government was the legal government of Virginia in 1861, West Virginia is not, and never has been, a state of the Union; and yet, if the Pierpont government was legal in time of war, its reconstruction by congress in a time of profound peace was unwarranted by any law. But both these contradictions were accepted. West Virginia was retained as a state, and its members even voted on the reconstruction of the parent state of Virginia. All this, and countless other contradictions, were blotted out by Stevens' all-embracing theory. From it he never swerved. At the special session of July, 1861, he declared it as follows: "These rebels, who have disregarded and set at defiance that instrument, are by every rule of law, estopped from pleading it against our action. There must be a party in court to plead it; and that party, to be entitled to plead it, must first acknowledge its supremacy, or he has no business to be in court at all. Those who bring in this plea here, in bar of our action, are in a legal sense the advocates of rebels, their counselors at law; they are speaking for them, not for us, who are the plaintiffs in the action. I deny that they have any right to plead at all. I deny that they have any standing in court." For this reason he voted for the admission of West Virginia, while he still considered the Richmond legislature the legislature of Virginia, and ridiculed unsparingly the action of "the highly respectable but very small number of the citizens of Virginia, the people of West Virginia," who had "assembled together, disapproved the acts of Virginia, and with the utmost self-complacency called themselves Virginia." In the same way he voted for every war measure without leaving any unpleasant precedents for the final work of reconstruction. Throughout the war his views were always repudiated by Colfax and other leading republicans, and he said in 1863: "I know perfectly well that I do not speak the sentiments of this side as a party. I know, that, for the last fifteen years, I have always been a step ahead of the party I have acted with in these matters; but I have never been so far ahead but that the members of the party have overtaken me and gone ahead, and they will again overtake me before this rebellion is ended. They will find that they can not execute the constitution in the seceding states; that it is a total nullity there; and that this war must be carried on upon principles wholly independent of it." Even in the final process of reconstruction he took no step backward. In his theory the guarantee clause and the other constitutional grounds of congressional action had no place. Congress had omnipotent power, because the seceding states had repudiated the constitution. If that body chose to offer mild terms, so much the better for the conquered; if harsh, no one had a right to complain. Democratic votes aided him in defeating the offer of any terms until his own party was so near him that he could rejoin it with the sacrifice of little in fact and nothing in theory. This result came about in December, 1865, when he became the leader of the joint committee of fifteen on the rebellious states; and from that time much of the work of reconstruction was his own, modified by the restraining influence of his colleagues. The fundamental condition of negro suffrage was one of his purposes, but he persistently advocated even harsher terms of peace. In a speech at Lancaster, Pa., in September, 1865, he proposed the confiscation of the estates of rebels worth more than $10,000 or 200 acres of land, forty acres of land to be given to each freedman, and the balance, estimated at $3,500,000,000, to go toward paying off the national debt. He supposed that only one-tenth of the whites would lose their property, while nearly all southern property would be confiscated. This proposition was never formally considered, but it made Stevens the incarnation of all evil in the eyes of southerners. His name and his purposes occur in the debates of all the southern conventions of 1865, and are introduced as incentives to the prompt acceptance of the presidential policy.
—5. The Davis-Wade Plan. The adoption of an anti-slavery policy during the war made necessary the imposition of some condition on reconstruction; and this condition was first stated in the presidential plan of 1863, in the form of the oath to support the anti-slavery proclamations and laws, as well as the constitution. But, if any such condition could be imposed, there was practically no limit in theory to the conditions which might be imposed: there was no middle ground between unconditional restoration and the discretion of the conquering government. The appearance of a condition in the presidential policy was therefore the signal for the appearance of a condition in congress also. In the president's policy no security was asked for the faithful execution of reconstruction, beyond the taking of the oath, the oversight of the president, and the separate action of the houses in admitting members. To fill this defect, a bill was privately drafted in 1863, reported to congress by the committee on rebellious states, of which Henry Winter Davis and Benj. F. Wade were the leaders, and came fairly before the house, March 22, 1864. By its terms the president was to appoint provisional governors, who were to enroll the white citizens through the aid of United States marshals. When a majority of these citizens in any state should take the oath of allegiance, they were to hold a state convention, excluding from voting or being delegates, all confederate officeholders and all who had voluntarily borne arms against the United States. The constitution was to repudiate the rebel debt, abolish slavery, and prohibit the higher military and civil office-holders of the state and confederacy from voting for or serving as governors or members of the legislature. When this was done, the provisional governor was to notify the president; when the assent of congress was obtained, the president was to recognize the new government by proclamation; and then senators and representatives were to be admitted. It declared forever free the slaves in seceding states, and made the holding of any such person in slavery an offense punishable by fine and imprisonment; but there was still no attempt to introduce negro suffrage. The bill was defended on the ground that "we are now engaged in suppressing a military usurpation of the authority of state governments, and our success will be the overthrow of all semblance of government in the rebel states. The government of the United States will then be in fact the only government existing in those states, and it will be charged to guarantee them republican governments. When military opposition shall have been suppressed, not merely paralyzed, driven into a corner, and pushed back, but gone, then call upon the people to reorganize in their own way a republican government in the form that the people of the United States can agree to, subject to the conditions that we think essential to our permanent peace, and to prevent the revival hereafter of the rebellion." Its basis was therefore the same as that of the final congressional plan: that of a war measure passed, if not bello flagrante, at least bellonon cessante. Its advocates objected to the president's plan for the reason that the latter "proposed no guardianship of the United States over the reorganization of state governments, no law to prescribe who shall vote, no civil functionaries to see that the law is faithfully executed, no supervising authority to control and judge of the elections." These defects the Davis-Wade bill proposed to rectify by the introduction of the local machinery of marshals, and the final authority and assent or rejection of congress. But who or what was to prevent reconstructed governments, after the admission of their senators and representatives, from amending their constitutions and eliminating the conditions of reconstruction? Here was the weak point of the bill, which congress finally endeavored to strengthen in 1867 by negro suffrage and constitutional amendment.
—The bill was passed by the house, May 4, by a vote of 73 to 59, but did not come up in the senate until July 1. On the last day of the session it was passed by the senate, but the president refused to sign it for the reason that he had not sufficient time to examine it. July 8, 1864, he issued a proclamation explaining and defending his reasons for not signing the bill. Messrs. Davis and Wade replied in a counter proclamation "to the supporters of the government." They had read the president's proclamation "without surprise, but not without indignation." They asserted, on the contrary, that the substance of this bill had been before the president for more than a year for consideration; that he himself had intrigued to delay the passage of the bill so as to obtain an excuse for refusing to sign it; that senator Doolittle, of Wisconsin, had written to the Louisiana authorities that the house bill would be held as long as possible in the senate, and finally killed by a pocket veto; that the president's persistence in his own plan, and his hostility to that of congress, were both inspired by the desire to use, if necessary, the electoral votes of Louisiana and Arkansas to secure his own election in November, and that an abortive military expedition into Florida had the same object; and they ask, "if those votes turn the balance in his favor, is it to be supposed that his competitor, defeated by such means, will acquiesce?" In conclusion they warn the president that their support "is of a cause, and not of a man; that the authority of congress is paramount and must be respected; and that, if he wishes their support, he must confine himself to his executive duties, to obey and execute, not make the laws, to suppress armed rebellion by arms, and leave political reorganization to congress." In the following session the bill was again introduced in the house, but it was already obsolete, and was laid on the table. Instead of it, the bill of 1865 (see
—6. The Congressional Plan. The acceptance of the presidential policy by the state conventions of southern whites was so swift that northern democrats, before the end of July, 1865, generally supported the whole scheme as the best practical form of "restoration," taking the changes in state constitutions as the voluntary act of the states, not as conditions imposed by the president. The resolutions of successive state conventions of 1865 show constant change. Democratic resolutions grow steadily stronger in their approval of the presidential policy. Republican resolutions grow steadily more reserved in their approval of the president and his policy, and steadily stronger in their approval of "impartial suffrage" as a condition precedent to the reconstruction and recognition of seceding state governments. For this change in the republican position, there was undoubtedly party reason. Stevens said frankly in 1867: "White union men are in a minority in each of those states. With them the blacks would act in a body, form a majority, control the states, and protect themselves. It would insure the ascendency of the union party, for I believe, on my conscience, that on the continued ascendency of that party depends the safety of this great nation." But this reason alone, however it might have controlled the policy of the party, could never have made that policy a success: it could never have carried as it did the elections of 1866, the very crisis of congressional reconstruction. The controlling reason will be found in the constant irritation kept up by the general cast of the legislation in regard to freedmen by the reconstructed legislatures of 1865-6, supplemented by the indiscreet, unconciliating and inflammatory tone of the president himself.
—In regard to marriage and testimony or standing in court, most of the southern legislation was alike. Former slaves, who had cohabited as man and wife were to be deemed and taken as married, but marriage between the two races was forbidden under penalties. Negroes were to sue and be sued like whites. The testimony of a negro was only to be received in cases where a negro should sue a white, where a white had injured a negro, or where the rights of a negro were in question, always provided that the testimony offered was essential to the case. Contracts between blacks and whites were to be void unless put in writing and witnessed by a white man. A benevolent exception should be noticed in the law of Virginia, that contracts between blacks and whites were not to be binding upon the black unless put in writing before a magistrate and fully explained by him. The criminal laws were generally fair and equal, except that rape of a white woman by a negro was made punishable by death. In many minor points this species of legislation was no doubt objectionable. Taken as a whole, and considered as the work of men who had within a year been absolute masters of the freedmen, and who had been dispossessed of their control by war and conquest, it must be conceded that it exhibits remarkable self-control, public spirit and equity.
—The case was very different with the vagrancy and stay laws passed by most of the southern legislatures. We have already noticed that the proclamation of 1863 made "no objection" to a temporary regulation of the status of the freedmen, "as a laboring, landless, homeless class." On this subject the legislation of North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, was comparatively unobjectionable. The Virginia act declared all persons vagrants who refused to work for the wages common and usual in the place where they lived, or who broke a contract with an employer, and in the latter case authorized the employer to work the runaway an additional month, with ball and chain, if necessary. The act was revoked by Gen. Terry, Jan. 24, 1866, for the reason that combinations of employers were reducing wages below a fair rate, and then punishing as vagrants the laborers who refused to accept them. The most comprehensive system was that of Mississippi, passed at various times during the last two weeks of November, 1865. Negroes who were orphans or unsupported were to be apprenticed until the ages of twenty-one for males and eighteen for females, and the masters were to have power to inflict "moderate corporal chastisement," and to recapture fugitives. Negroes, or whites habitually associating with negroes, were declared vagrants if they had no lawful employment, or assembled themselves together unlawfully. They were to be arrested and fined, and, if unable to pay the fine, were to be hired out to the bidder who would pay the fine for the shortest term of service. The evidence of a "lawful employment" was to be the negro's written contract for labor, or his license from a mayor or police board to do job work. These, renewed annually, were to serve as a pass: without them the negro was a self-confessed vagrant. All the laws respecting crimes committed by "slaves, free negroes or mulattoes," were reenacted, and declared to be in full force and effect against "freedmen, free negroes and mulattoes." Any negro who "carried arms without a license, committed riots, routs, affrays, trespasses, malicious mischiefs or cruel treatment to animals, seditious speeches, insulting gestures, language or acts, or assaults on any person, or disturbance of the peace, or who exercised the functions of a minister of the gospel without a license from some regularly ordained church," was to be fined, and hired out if unable to pay. Any laborer who should break his contract, and leave his employer, was to be arrested and returned to his labor, and the expenses of the arrest were to be deducted from the runaway's wages. Any attempt to entice a contract laborer from his employer was made a finable misdemeanor. The fundamental features of the Mississippi code, its application of the vagrant laws to recalcitrant laborers, its hiring out of those unable to pay fines, and its prohibition of the enticing away of laborers, were adopted by Florida, Alabama and Georgia; but none of them had by any means so comprehensive a negro code. In December, 1865, South Carolina adopted a vagrant code much like that of Mississippi, but with some features of its own. Persons of color (defined as persons with more than one-eighth negro blood) were not to pursue any trade, business or occupation, other than that of husbandry or contract service, without paying a fee of $100 a year if a shopkeeper or peddler, or $10 a year if a mechanic, for a license; and they were not to sell any farm product without written license to sell any farm product without written license to sell. It was made felony for any person of color to attempt rape upon a white woman; for any person under sentence of transportation from the state to return before the end of his term; or for any person to steal a horse, a mule, or cotton packed in a bale ready for market. No negro was to enter the state to reside there without giving bonds for his good behavior and support. The whole code of laws was revoked by Gen. Sickles, Jan. 17, 1866. The Louisiana law, in December, 1865, required "agricultural laborers" to make written contracts for a year's labor before Jan. 10 in each year, and forbade the laborer to leave his place of employment before the end of his time of service, unless by consent of his employer, or on account of harsh treatment or breach of contract by the employer. Refusal to work out the time of contract was to be punished by forced labor on public works, unless the offender should consent to return to his labor. Runaways from an employer were declared vagrants, and were to be hired out for not more than twelve months, the employer having the preference, and the wages to go to the poor fund. An aggravation of the contrast between the status of the two races was presented in those states in which suits of the employer against the laborer were decided summarily by arrest and hiring out: at the same time "stay laws" operated to postpone execution of judgment in suits at law for one, two, three or more years for different fractions of the judgment debt, so that a laborer had little prospect of satisfaction from a suit against an employer.
—Such legislation as this is mainly responsible for the reconstruction of the seceding states by congress. It forced a very fair observer to conclude, in 1865, that, if they should "get the troops away and the states into congress, three-fourths of the counties in the state [Georgia] would vote for such a penal code as would practically reduce half the negroes to slavery in less than a year." In the northern states it came to be generally believed that this was the deliberate southern policy; and this belief carried with it a majority ready to support congress in any counteracting policy whatever, no matter how radical. Not that the vagrant laws worked any great harm in practice: when they were not formally suspended by the strong arm of military power, the officers of the freedmen's bureau (see that title) withheld from state courts the cognizance of cases in which freedmen were interested. They served, then, only as an irritation; and the utter futility of the irritation only makes its folly the more glaring. And it was accompanied by other irritations, smaller, indeed, but perhaps as effective. Almost the first business of the reconstructed legislatures, still existing only under military sufferance, was to pass acts laying special taxes, or setting aside portions of the state's income, for pensioning confederate soldiers, widows and orphans; to pass resolutions demanding the pardon of leading confederates; and to change the names of counties to honor their captured chieftains. In the state conventions, highly injudicious language had been used by a few of the more violent delegates; and, though few of these delegates had been warlike during the war, their utterances were quotable. Further, the peculiar action of the North Carolina. South Carolina and Georgia conventions, which "repealed" the ordinance of secession, instead of declaring it null and void, was imprudent, to say the least. If it is prudent to build a bridge of gold for a flying enemy, it is infinitely more advisable to avoid irritating a victorious enemy who is disposed to be at peace.
—Before congress met, in December, 1865, the mass of legislation above summarized had fairly taken shape; and, as it seemed to look toward the re-establishment of an imperium in imperio, it had already swung the whole republican party into opposition to the presidential policy. The elections of 1864 had given the republicans a majority of 40 to 11 in the senate, and 145 to 40 in the house; and southern vagrant laws and similar legislation had at last brought this majority abreast of Stevens and made him its leader, as he remained until his death, in 1868. The first step was taken on the opening day in the house, when the clerk, McPherson, in calling the roll, declined to call the names of any of the seceding states, even of Tennessee, Louisiana and Virginia. He refused to state his reasons, unless by desire of the house. Immediately after the election of a speaker, Stevens offered the concurrent resolution which contained the essence of reconstruction: that a joint committee of nine representatives and six senators should inquire into the condition of the seceding states, and report whether any of them were entitled to be represented in either house; that, until the committee should report and their report should be finally acted on by congress, no member should be received by either house from any of said states; and that all papers relating to the matter should be referred to the committee without debate. On this pregnant resolution he called for the previous question; debate was shut off, and the resolution was carried by a party vote. This was a declaration of war against the presidential policy, under which the two houses were only to decide separately upon admission of members; and the more cautious senate, Dec. 12, struck out the last two of its three features. The house agreed, Dec. 14, but pledged itself against any admissions until the committee should report. Jan. 8, 1866, the house further resolved that the troops should not be withdrawn from the seceding states until the two houses should direct their withdrawal. The chasm between the president and the majority in congress rapidly grew wider. Feb. 20, Stevens again brought up his fundamental idea in a "concurrent resolution concerning the insurrectionary states." It resolved, in order to close agitation and quiet the uncertainty in the south, that no senator or representative should be admitted by either house until congress should declare the state entitled to representation. This was passed at once under the previous question. March 2, the senate passed it, and the manner, though not the exact method, of reconstruction, was settled, so far as congress could then settle it.
—It was by this time an open secret that there was a very decided disagreement between President Johnson and the party which had elected him. Had Lincoln been one of the parties to the disagreement, there can be no doubt that an adjustment of ideas would have been arranged: Johnson preferred to declare war. The occasion was found, Feb. 22, two days after the passage of the definitive resolution by the house. A Washington mass meeting sent a committee to the president with resolutions approving his policy. In his reply he passed beyond the arguments to which he had hitherto confined himself in public speeches, the necessity for conciliation, the impossibility of any withdrawal from the Union, and the right of states to representation. He now proceeded to attack congress, as having transferred its powers to "an irresponsible central directory" (the leaders of the republican caucus); he named Stevens, Sumner and Wendell Phillips as the leading northern disunionists; and he even taunted his opponents with their cowardly unwillingness "to effect the removal of the presidential obstacle otherwise than through the hands of the assassin." There is no excuse for such language in the provocative speeches of several of the radical republicans in and out of congress. By replying in this fashion, the president only played into the hands of opponents who never gave away a point in the game. He aimed at the Stevens faction, but he only succeeded in alienating the whole mass of the republican representation. Thereafter, there was no possibility of co-operation between the president and this congress.
—At the beginning of the session many amendments to the constitution had been proposed, intended to void the rebel debt, and secure the rights of freedmen, that is, to counteract the southern legislation of 1865-6. One of them, afterward elaborated into section two of the 14th amendment, was passed by the house, Jan. 31, 1866, but failed to receive a two-thirds vote in the senate. The speech of Feb. 22 not only brought the senate to agree to the concurrent resolution: it made constitutional amendment possible as well. April 30, Stevens introduced an amendment to the constitution, and a bill providing, that, when this amendment should become a part of the constitution, any seceding state which had ratified the amendment, and altered its constitution in conformity therewith, should be entitled to representation at once. The amendment was that which in June became the 14th amendment. (See
—As one of the means of preparation for the autumn campaign, the majority of the committee of fifteen presented a report, June 18, 1866, with a great mass of testimony going to show the prevalence of disloyalty in the seceding states. The report asserted that the seceding states in 1860-61 had deliberately abolished their state governments and constitutions, so far as these connected them with the Union; had repudiated the constitution, and renounced their representation; that as the constitution acted on individuals, not on states, the people were still bound to obedience to the laws, though they had abolished their state governments; that the war could not be considered as terminated when the people of the seceding states yielded "an unwilling admission of the unwelcome fact" of their inability to resist longer; and that it was an essential condition that such guarantees of future security should be given as would be satisfactory to the law-making power, which, in the law of 1861, had recognized the existence of rebellion. This, it will be seen, was not quite the theory of either Sumner or Stevens: unlike the former it considered the states as existing, though their governments were in a condition of suspended animation; unlike the latter, it maintained the continued existence and force of the constitution in the seceding states. Practically, however, it agreed with both, in that it made congress the final arbiter of the guarantees of peace.
—The president and his supporters had not spent the winter in idleness. Early in the year a "national union club" had been formed in Washington, composed mainly of republican supporters of the presidential policy. Its executive committee, June 25, issued a call for a national convention to meet at Philadelphia, Aug. 14, to be composed of northern delegates, representing the Lincoln and Johnson vote of 1864, and of southern delegates who would unite with the former in supporting the presidential policy. July 4, the democratic members of congress issued an address approving the proposed convention. A request to the members of the cabinet for their approval was followed by the resignation of three of them (see
—With the first prospects of success, however, the president's public language became more indiscreet than ever. In his answer to the committee which brought him the Philadelphia resolutions he said: "We have witnessed in one department of the government every effort, as it were, to prevent the restoration of peace and harmony in the Union. We have seen hanging on the verge of the government, as it were, a body called, or which assumes to be, the congress of the United States, but in fact a congress of only part of the states. We have seen this congress assume and pretend to be for the Union, when its every step and act tended to perpetuate disunion, and make a disruption of the states inevitable." Indeed, his pugnacity had so far gained the upper hand of his discretion that he even gratified his congressional opponents by descending personally into the arena. He chose this most inopportune of all seasons for an excursion to Chicago, for the purpose of laying the corner-stone of the Douglas monument. Starting Aug. 28, with a large party, including three of his cabinet, General Grant, Admiral Farragut, and others, he made speeches at various points from New York city to Chicago, and thence to St. Louis, Sept. 8; and the matter and manner of his speeches grew worse from the beginning. It was alleged that his opponents hired men to irritate and provoke him to indiscretions; but such a political manœuvre was entirely unnecessary. An extract from his Cleveland speech of Sept. 3 will serve as evidence that the president's own temper was the source of a large part of the scandalous interchange of vituperation between himself and his audiences, which disgraced his progress: "I came here as I was passing along, and have been called upon for the purpose of exchanging views, and ascertaining, if we could, who was wrong. [Cries of 'It's you.'] Who can come and place his finger on one pledge I ever violated, or one principle I ever proved false to? [A voice, 'How about New Orleans?' Another voice, 'Hang Jeff. Davis.'] Hang Jeff. Davis, he says. [Cries of 'No,' and 'Down with him.'] Hang Jeff. Davis, he says. [A voice, 'Hang Thad. Stevens and Wendell Phillips.'] Hang Jeff. Davis. Why do n't you hang him? [Cries of 'Give us the opportunity.'] Have n't you got the court? Have n't you got the attorney general? [A voice, 'Who is your chief justice who has refused to sit upon the trial?] I am not the chief justice. I am not the prosecuting attorney. [Cheers.] I am not the jury. I will tell you what I did do. I called upon your congress that is trying to break up the government—[cheers, mingled with oaths and hisses. Great confusion. 'Do n't get mad, Andy.'] Well, I will tell you who is mad. 'Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.' Did your congress order any of them to be tried? [Three cheers for congress.] * * [A voice, 'Traitor.'] I wish I could see that man. I would bet you now, that, if the light fell on your face, cowardice and treachery would be seen in it. Show yourself. Come out here where I can see you. [Shouts of laughter.]" The colloquies between the president and his hearers grew more unpleasant as the trip went on, but, nothing daunted, the president continued speaking, and playing into the hands of his opponents to the end.
—July 30, 1866, the report of the majority of the reconstruction committee received an unexpected indorsement. An attempt was made on that day to revise the constitution of Louisiana (see that state) by reassembling the adjourned convention of 1864, in New Orleans. The convention's leaders are described by the military commander, Sheridan, as "intemperate political agitators and revolutionary men," whom be himself intended to arrest on the first overt act against the public peace. But the city authorities saved him the trouble, dispersing the convention "with firearms, clubs and knives, in a manner," says Sheridan, "so unnecessary and atrocious as to compel me to say that it was murder." About forty whites and blacks were thus killed, and 160 wounded. When the smoke of the congressional elections had cleared away, it was found that the republican majority had hardly been changed in numbers: in the next congress it would be 42 to 12 in the senate, and 143 to 49 in the house. This was more than sufficient to override the president's veto and continue to keep the president out of reckoning as part of the "law-making power." In personnel the new majority was still more pronounced and united than the old majority in opposition to the presidential policy.
—When congress met in December, 1866, the majority came as victors, not as combatants; and their first and natural impulse was to superadd punitive damages. Their first terms, of June, had been rejected: the defeated party was now to pay the penalty of the refusal in the imposition of negro suffrage upon reconstruction. This had always been an essential feature of the Sumner and Stevens programmes, but now for the first time the party majority was united by stress of conflict in support of it. An effort was at once made to impeach the president, but it at first was abortive. (See
—Between October, 1866, and February, 1867, the legislatures of all the seceding states, except Tennessee, rejected the 14th amendment by votes nearly or quite unanimous. This action had a double result: as a final rejection of the first terms of reconstruction, it made subsequent terms more severe; and, as it showed the absolute impossibility of obtaining the ratification of the 14th amendment by three-fourths of the (then) thirty-six states while the ten southern states remained in statu quo, it forced congress to choose between the presidential policy and negro suffrage. So evidently ready was congress to make the choice, that, in February, 1867, an official effort, indorsed by the president, was made to induce the southern legislatures to propose an amendment of their own. It was the 14th amendment without the disqualifying clause, but with a new clause forbidding a state to secede, or the federal government to eject a state or deprive it of its representation in congress. The plan also included the amendment of each state constitution by giving the right of suffrage to all male citizens who could read and write, and owned $250 worth of taxable property. The amendment was offered in the legislatures of Alabama and North Carolina, but their refusal to consider it put an end to the proposal. In the meantime, congress had gone on with its work. Dec. 13, 1866, Stevens introduced a bill to reconstruct the government of North Carolina, giving the right of suffrage to males able to read and write. Jan. 3, 1867, he called up, in place of the former, a general reconstruction bill. It was sent to the reconstruction committee, which reported, Feb. 6. the bill finally adopted. Here there was some republican hesitation. Blaine offered an amendment promising representation on the terms of June, 1866; but this was voted down by democrats and radical republicans, and the bill was passed by a vote of 109 to 55. In the senate the Blaine amendment was offered by Sherman, and carried; but the house refused to concar, the democrats and radical republicans again voting in company. The only result of this temporary republican division was that the majority now reunited, and passed the bill, given below, without the Blaine amendment, and with the far more stringent fifth and sixth sections. which were not in the original bill. The final votes, Feb. 20, were 128 to 46 in the house, and 35 to 7 in the senate.
—7. First Reconstruction Bill. The preamble of the "act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel states," recited that no legal state governments, or adequate protection for life and property, now existed in those states, and that it was necessary that peace and good order should be enforced in them until loyal and republican state governments could be legally established. The six sections were as follows: 1. The states were to be made subject to the military authority of the United States, and divided into the following districts: I., Virginia; II., North and South Carolina: III., Georgia, Florida and Alabama; IV., Mississippi and Arkansas; V., Louisiana and Texas. 2. The president was to appoint the commanding officer of each district, not to be below the rank of brigadier general, and furnish him sufficient military force. 3. The commanding officer was "to protect all persons in their rights of person and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence," either by military commission, or by allowing local courts to act; "and all interference, under color of state authority, with the exercise of military authority under this act, shall be null and void." 4. Trials were to be without unnecessary delay; punishments were not to be cruel or unusual; and sentences of military commissions were to be approved by the commanding officer, or, if they involved death, by the president. 5. The people of any state might hold a delegate convention, elected by the male citizens of the state on one year's residence, excluding only those disfranchised for participation in the rebellion, or for felony at common law; but no person excluded from holding office by the proposed 14th amendment was to vote for delegates or become a delegate. The constitution framed by the convention was to give the elective franchise to those citizens who were allowed to vote for delegates, and was to be ratified by a popular vote under the same conditions of suffrage. When these conditions were fulfilled, when congress had approved the constitution, when the new legislature had ratified the 14th amendment, and when that amendment should become part of the constitution, the state was to be entitled to representation in congress. 6. Until thus reconstructed, the civil governments of the rebel states were to be "deemed provisional only, and in all respects subject to the paramount authority of the United States at any time to abolish, modify, control or supersede the same;" and, "in all elections under such provisional governments, "the only voters or office-holders were to be those entitled by this act to vote or hold office.
—The bill was vetoed, March 2. The message denied the truth of the preamble; protested against the bill as a needless and utterly unconstitutional attempt to establish an unrestrained military despotism over part of the country in a time of profound peace; and appealed to congress to admit loyal and qualified members from all the states. The bill was passed over the veto the same day, the vote being a strictly party vote, except that Senator Reverdy Johnson voted in the affirmative. It may be considered the second stage of reconstruction. Military government was to be established, but the reconstruction was still to be done by the state, subject to the final approval of congress. In order toinduce such action by the state, its citizens were given the option of a surrender of civil government or voluntary reconstruction; for the sixth section, applying the principle of the bill to "all elections," made reconstruction ultimately inevitable, if elections were to take place. It is certain that several states were moving in the direction of voluntary reconstruction when the new congress, which met March 4, 1867, anticipated them and hastened the process.
—8. Supplementary Reconstruction Bill. March 19, the new congress passed an act in nine sections, as follows: 1. Before Sept. 1, 1867, district commanders were to register male citizens qualified to vote under the act, taking from each registered voter an oath that he was qualified by residence and age, and that he had never engaged in rebellion after taking the oath of allegiance as member of any state legislature or of congress, or as an officer, executive or judicial, of the United States or of any state. 2. The district commander was to hold an election for delegates, equal in number to the lower house of the state legislature, and apportioned according to registration. 3. The question of holding a convention was to be decided at the same election. 4. If a majority of registered voters consent to the convention, the district commander was to give the delegates sixty days' notice of the time and place of meeting; and when the constitution was framed he was to give thirty days' notice of an election to ratify or reject it. 5. When the constitution was ratified, it was to be sent to the president, and by him sent to congress. If congress approved it as in conformity with the reconstruction acts, the state was to be declared entitled to representation, and her senators and representatives were to be admitted. 6. All elections were to be by ballot, and false swearing was to be punished as perjury. 7. The expenses of the commanding officer were provided for. 8. The convention in each state was to have the power of taxation to meet its own expenses. 9. A verbal mistake in the original act was corrected.
—This may be considered the third stage of reconstruction by congress. Its essential point of difference was that the work of reconstruction was now taken out of the hands of the state, and given to the military commander. In brief, it was, so far as the state was concerned, involuntary reconstruction.
—II. THE WORK OF RECONSTRUCTION. March 11, 1867, the president appointed the district commanders; and the appointees, Generals Schofield, Sickles, Thomas, Ord and Sheridan at once took command of the five districts in the order given. March 15, Thomas was replaced by Pope. In all the districts the first order was generally an announcement of the assumption of command; and a general direction to the "officers under the existing provisional government" of the state to perform their duties as usual until otherwise directed, though the legislatures were forbidden to meet in the following autumn. Then came a notice that whipping and maiming in punishment of crime must cease, and that the militia must be disbanded. Then came the appointment of boards of registration, and the notification of the test oath; the election of delegates; the meeting of the convention; and the framing of the new state constitution. The machinery worked with comparatively little friction. The whites were in no condition for forcible resistance; and when state treasurers or other officers attempted to balk the work in any way, they were promptly removed, and replaced by civilians or military appointees. The state of Mississippi attempted to obtain from the supreme court an injunction forbidding the president and Gen. Ord from executing the reconstruction acts, but the court refused it, April 15, on the ground that it could not thus interfere with the purely political acts of another department of the government. (See
—In all the states the local work of reconstruction went on rapidly. The first of the conventions, in Alabama, met Nov. 5, 1867, and the others followed at various intervals. (Their time of meeting, action, and the ratifications, will be found under the several states.) The constitutions agreed in abolishing slavery, repudiating the rebel debt, renouncing the claim of a right to secede, declaring the ordinance of secession null and void, giving the right of suffrage to all male citizens over twenty-one years of age on a residence qualification, and prohibiting the passage of laws to abridge the privileges of any class of citizens. Further, all the constitutions, except those of North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, disfranchised all who were disqualified from holding office by the (proposed) 14th amendment. This disfranchising clause caused the rejection of the constitution in Mississippi, while in Texas and Virginia the popular sentiment was so adverse that no submission to popular vote was ventured on as yet. In the other states, as rapidly as possible, legislatures and governors were elected. the former met and ratified the 14th amendment; and the latter were formally appointed military governors until reconstruction could be completed. June 22, 1868, an act of congress approved the constitution of Arkansas as republican, and admitted the state to representation on the fundamental condition that the grant of universal suffrage should never be revoked. June 25, a similar act admitted North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. July 20, 1868, an act to exclude electoral votes from unreconstructed states was passed over the veto.
—The 14th amendment thus secured the requisite number of state ratifications, and an act of June 25, 1868, directed the president to announce the fact by proclamation. July 11, he issued a laboriously ambiguous proclamation, announcing seriatim the reception of "papers purporting to be resolutions of the legislatures" of the various states, attested by the names of various persons "who therein sign themselves" governor, president of the senate, etc.; and July 20, Secretary Seward issued an equally ambiguous proclamation, detailing the ratifications and the withdrawals of Ohio and New Jersey, and announcing that, if these withdrawals were invalid, the amendment was a part of the constitution. Subsequently (see
—Much suspicion had been felt by congressional leaders as to the action which the supreme court would take if the constitutionality of reconstruction should come legitimately before it. (See
—Some additional work remained to be done, for reconstruction still hung fire in Texas, Mississippi and Virginia. The act of April 10, 1869, therefore authorized the president to call elections in those states for the ratification or rejection of their new state constitutions, submitting such sections as he pleased to a separate vote; but, as punitive terms for their delay, the new legislatures were required to ratify the proposed 15th as well as the 14th amendment. This may be considered the fourth and final stage of reconstruction by congress. In the states named, the objectionable clauses were voted down, the rest of the constitution was ratified, the legislatures fulfilled the conditions required, and the states were admitted by the acts of Jan. 26 (Virginia), Feb. 23 (Mississippi), and March 30, 1870 (Texas). In the same year, however, an attempted evasion of conditions by Georgia (see that state) brought her into the same position as the three states last named; and it was not until Jan. 30, 1871, that all the states were represented in both houses of congress, for the first time since 1860. Reconstruction by congress was then completed.
—For the impeachment of President Johnson, see
—III. THE FAILURES OF RECONSTRUCTION. Prophets were not wanting who predicted the speedy collapse of the highly artificial governmental edifices erected by congress in the southern states. Certainly he must have been a very short-sighted person who expected from them an immediate and permanent establishment of the freedmen in all the new privileges granted to them. If the weapon of suffrage, which the white race had secured only after centuries of arduous struggle, could be safely and surely wielded by a race which had hardly ever known any condition other than slavery, we must certainly rank slavery, as an educating process, higher than we have been accustomed to place it. And, on the other hand, if the pyramid must be supported on its apex by national power, it was not to be expected that the country would allow all other business to lapse, and wage an eternal war of irritations on behalf of a helpless race. Plainly, if southern resistance should be open, the south would be reconquered every decade; and if southern resistance was guarded but persistent, negro suffrage was destined, sooner or later, to at least a temporary eclipse.
—In almost all the states the downward career of the reconstructed governments was short and swift. Until the negro legislators learned the machinery of politics, they submitted with patience to the guidance of white leaders, generally northern immigrants, or "carpet-baggers," and these endeavored with considerable success to keep up at least a semblance of the decent methods to which they had been accustomed. But the negro showed an astonishing quickness in learning the tactics of politics, in grasping the shell while ignoring the kernel. Points of order, parliamentary rulings, filibustering methods, the means of putting fraud into a fair legislative form, almost immediately became as familiar to the negroes as to any other experts in legislation; and then the state treasuries lay at the mercy of a race whose incorrigible and notorious vice, during slavery, had always been theft. No storming force ever made quicker work of a captured city. Most of the "carpetbag" leaders yielded to the current, and took a share of the spoils. The impoverished treasuries were instantly swept clean. The issue of bonds was then resorted to, except in states like Mississippi, whose bonds were unsalable through previous repudiation; and in this process the lion's share fell to the more expert white leaders. In one state, South Carolina, the debt rose from about $5,000,000 in 1868 to nearly $30,000,000 in 1872; and about $20,000,000 of this amount were issued by the governor by virtue of a legislative permission to issue $2,000,000. In almost any state, a lobby rich enough to purchase the legislators could secure the passage of an act issuing state bonds in aid of a railroad, supplemented by a subsequent act releasing the state's lien on the road, the whole making up an absolute gift of the money. But the land, which must ultimately be taxed for the payment of such gifts, remained in the hands of the whites. Under universal suffrage, made harsher by a partial white disfranchisement, the whites were helpless, so long as they observed the forms of law; and in the conflict of interests the forms of law went down.
—At first the struggle was mainly peaceful. Negro voters were paid to remain at home on election day, or were induced to do so by threats of loss of work; negro leaders were bribed to wink at false counting or registration; and when the whites had thus carried the legislature, measures were enacted to secure white control of the government in future. In this manner the government fell into white hands in Tennessee in 1869. in North Carolina in 1870, and in Texas, Georgia and Virginia from their first reconstruction in 1870-71. All these were states in which the white vote (see
—In each state the negro vote was practically suppressed after the overthrow of the reconstructed government. The violence did not necessarily continue in active operation: the negro vote was in part cast and counted, and negro local officers and even congressmen were occasionally elected. But every one knew that the negro vote would be tolerated just far enough to insure a permanent union of the white vote. and no further. The results are seen in the significant smallness of the vote in most of the reconstructed states. In 1880, for example, the congressional districts were each supposed to contain at least 131,400 inhabitants, which should have furnished over 30,000 voters. Alabama and Wisconsin correspond very closely in population, and each has eight congressmen. In 1880 the votes in these districts were as follows: Alabama, 18,645; 22,207; 16,319; 17,644; 11,219; 10,043; 19,146; 25,573: Wisconsin, 31,167; 30,875; 29,226; 32,737; 32,926; 38,435; 35,855; 33,894. It thus appears, that, on the same census population. Wisconsin furnishes 265,115 voters, an average of 33,139 to a district, while Alabama has but 140,796 voters, an average of 17,599 to a district. It is difficult to find more than one controlling explanation for this essential difference.
—It must not be understood that the "subversion of the reconstructed governments" included any essential change in the reconstructed constitutions. These remained formally unaltered, so far as the fundamental conditions of readmission were concerned, though most of the states have revised their constitutions in non-essentials. The supreme court has decided that the state, on accepting readmission. is estopped from denying the validity of the conditions; and the federal judiciary, with the enlarged powers given to it since 1860, would undoubtedly make short work with any attempt to repudiate the conditions of reconstruction. The organic law is unchanged: the revolution has taken place beneath the surface.
—Force Bills. At the first indication of attack by violence upon the reconstructed governments, congress took steps to defeat the attempt. A bill for the enforcement of the last two amendments, commonly called the force bill, was introduced, passed by strict party votes, and became law May 31, 1870. It made punishable by fine and imprisonment, or both, with exclusive cognizance to the United States courts, the following offenses: hindering any person in the performance of registration or any other qualification for voting; refusing to give full effect to any person's vote: preventing, or confederating with others to prevent, by force, threats or bribery, any person from qualifying or voting; conspiring to go in disguise upon the highway, or upon the premises of another with intent to deprive any citizen of his constitutional rights; personating other voters, voting or registering illegally, or interfering with election officers at congressional elections or the registration therefor, violations of state or federal election laws by state or federal officials: and violations of the civil rights act (see that title) of 1866, which was expressly re-enacted. April 20, 1871, a far stronger force bill was enacted. (See
—IV. THE SUCCESSES OF RECONSTRUCTION. We have described the southern legislation of 1866-7. The infinitely milder and more equitable legislation which followed the successful seizure of power by the white race in the different states, in 1869-77, is of itself a proof that reconstruction was, in an essential point, a success. It gave the freedmen a status as men which, if not altogether satisfactory, is more than they could have hoped for in a century under the simple restoration policy. If the ballot is a nullity to the negro, his other rights are not; and he owes this to reconstruction. Further, the ballot itself will not always be a nullity. There stands the unchanged and unchangeable organic law of the states, waiting for the time when the negro shall be ready for the right of suffrage; and we may be sure that the recognition of his readiness will come far sooner and more easily by reason of the fact that it has nothing to fight against in the state constitutions.
—We have noticed, also, the portentous reappearance of the seceding states, after their reconstruction by the president, as an imperium in imperio. It would have been an impossibility for southern representatives under that régime, however honest their intentions, to divest themselves suddenly of the prejudices and traditions of a lifetime's training, and come back in full sympathy with the economic laws which were thenceforth to attach to their own section as well as to the rest of the country. They must, then, have returned as a compact phalanx of irreconcilables, sure of their ground at home, and a permanent source of irritation, sectional strife and positive danger to the rest of the country. All this was ended by reconstruction. This process, to speak simply, and perhaps brutally, gave the southern whites enough to attend to at home, until a new generation should grow up with more sympathy for the new, and less for the old. The energies which might have endangered the national peace were drawn off to a permanent local struggle for good government and security of property. Whatever may be alleged on humanitarian grounds against a policy which for a time converted some of the states into political hells, it must be confessed that the policy was a success, and that it secured the greatest good of the greatest number.
—See, in general, McPherson's Political History of the Rebellion, and History of the Reconstruction (see index for states, speeches, messages and legislation); 2 Williams' History of the Negro Race; Congressional Globe, 1861-72; Congressional Record, 1872-3; Hurd's Theory of our National Existence (index under Reconstruction); Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia, 1861-77; Fisher's Trial of the Constitution, 200; Brownson's American Republic, 309; McClellan's Republicanism in America; 12 Stat. at Large, 255 (Law of 1861); International Review, Jan, 1875 (Guarantee clause); 16 Atlantic Monthly, 238, 17:237, and 18:761; (I.), Cox's Eight Years in Congress, 370; Gillet's Democracy in America, 304; Harris' Political Conflict in America, 359; Pollard's Lost Cause Regained; Taylor's Destruction and Reconstruction; 2 Stephens' War Between the States, 612 (Hampton Roads conference), 806 (Sherman-Johnston memorandum); Raymond's Life and State Papers of Lincoln, 455, 685; 37 Atlantic Monthly, 21; Welles' Lincoln and Seward; 6-12 Summer's Works; 12 Atlantic Monthly, 507; Callender's Thaddeus Stevens, Commoner; 4 Appleton's Annual Cyclopœdia, 307 (Davis-Wade manifesto): Andrews' South Since the War (1866); Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction; Report of the Select Committee on the New Orleans Riot; Boutwell's Speeches; Barnes' 39th and 40th Congresses; 100 North American Review, 540; The Case of W. H. McArdle; Pike's The Prostrate State; and authorities under articles referred to.
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