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Emancipation and Restoration of Southern States .
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THE UNITED STATES
THE RECONSTRUCTION ERA
He serves his party best who serves his country best.- RUTHERFORD B. HAYES
THE PUNISHMENT OF THE SOUTH A dozen winters had passed since Lee's surrender at Appomattox and the disbanding of the Confederate armies, and still the Federal bugles sounded the reveille in the state capitols of Louisiana and South Carolina. The reason why the United States forces had not been withdrawn wholly from the soil of the South when peace came was that a radical Republican Congress proceeded to enact a program of reconstruction for the seceded states which could be carried out only with the aid of Northern bayonets. Many motives, some noble, some sordid, were combined in this program; but the nobler motives were generally utopian and visionary, while the baser ones were practical and decisive. "The work of sentimentalists controlled by knaves,” was E. L. Godkin's summary of reconstruction. How the program developed from the presidential purpose of getting the prostrate states of the South back into the Union with the least delay or friction, into the congressional plan of chastising those states by imposing humiliating terms for readmission, is the subject of the present section.
President Lincoln had seized every opportunity during the war of enforcing his theory that the Southern states had really never left the Union. He had treated loyal minorities in Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana as the true state
governments; he had offered to recognize in any of the states a government based on the oath of fealty of 10 per cent of the men who were voters at the time of the state's secession; he had refused to sign the Davis-Wade Bill because it would have interfered with his policy of clemency. At the cabinet meeting on the last day of his life, he had abhorred the idea of vengeance or reprisals on the South. Denying the validity of the secession ordinances as state enactments, Lincoln regarded the defection of the South as a great rebellion against the national authority. Consequently, executive pardon, based on proper guarantees of future loyalty and conditioned on the acceptance of the abolition of slavery, was the proper way of restoring the Southerners to the duties and privileges of citizenship in the Union. Along this way Lincoln was proceeding when the assassin's bullet struck him down.
The man upon whose shoulders the immense burden of Lincoln's uncompleted task fell was woefully incapable of bearing it. Andrew Johnson of Tennessee had been put on the Union ticket of 1864 as vice president, partly to reward him for his stanch loyalty during the war' and partly to relieve the Republicans of the odium of being a purely sectional party. At heart Johnson was a states'-rights Democrat, but his love for the Union and his hatred of slavery (for he came from the “poor white" class of the South) had brought him into the Republican camp. Since his election as alderman of Greenville, Tennessee, at the age of twenty, he had had over thirty-five years of practical experience in politics as mayor, member of his state legislature, governor of Tennessee for two terms, representative and senator in the national Congress, and military governor of his state under Lincoln's appointment. Still, the handicap of a rude and ignorant youth had not been overcome. He lacked the inherent nobility of character which had raised Abraham Lincoln from a position equally lowly and unblest to be a "true-born king of men.” Present-day historians are somewhat milder in
1 As senator from Tennessee, Johnson had been the only member from the seceding states who had not left his seat in the national Congress in 1860-1861. He had later been made military governor of Tennessee by President Lincoln.