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occupied the political, legal, and practical relation of enemies of the United States. This position is established by acts of Congress and judicial decisions, and is recognized repeatedly by the President in public proclamations, documents, and speeches.

Second. The States thus confederated prosecuted their war against the United States to final arbitrament, and did not cease until all their armies were captured, their military power destroyed, their civil officers, State and confederate, taken prisoners or put to flight, every vestige of State and confederate government obliterated, their territory overrun and occupied by the federal armies, and their people reduced to the condition of enemies conquered in war, entitled only by public law to such rights, privileges, and conditions as might be vouchsafed by the conqueror. This position is also established by judicial decisions, and is recognized by the President in public proclamations, documents, and speeches.

Third. . . . they have no right to complain of temporary exclusion from Congress; but, on the contrary, having voluntarily renounced the right to representation, and disqualified themselves by crime from participating in the government, the burden now rests upon them, before claiming to be reinstated in their former condition, to show that they are qualified to resume federal relations. In order to do this, they must prove that they have established, with the consent of the people, republican forms of government in harmony with the Constitution and laws of the United States, that all hostile purposes have ceased, and should give adequate guarantees against future treason and rebellion guarantees which shall prove satisfactory to the government against which they rebelled, and by whose arms they were subdued.

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Fourth. Having, by this treasonable withdrawal from Congress, and by flagrant rebellion and war, forfeited all civil and political rights and privileges under the federal Constitution, they can only be restored thereto by the permission and authority of that constitutional power against which they rebelled and by which they were subdued.

Fifth. These rebellious enemies were conquered by the people of the United States, acting through all the co-ordinate branches of the government, and not by the executive department alone. The powers of conqueror are not so vested in the President that he can fix and regulate the terms of settlement and confer congressional representation on conquered rebels and traitors. Nor can he, in any way, qualify enemies of the government to exercise its law-making power. The authority to restore rebels to political power in the federal government can be exercised only

with the concurrence of all the departments in which political power is vested; and hence the several proclamations of the President to the people of the Confederate States cannot be considered as extending beyond the purposes declared, and can only be regarded as provisional permission by the commander-in-chief of the army to do certain acts, the effect and validity whereof is to be determined by the constitutional government, and not solely by the executive power.

Sixth. The question before Congress is, then, whether conquered enemies have the right, and shall be permitted at their own pleasure and on their own terms, to participate in making laws for their conquerors. . . .

Seventh. The history of mankind exhibits no example of such madness and folly. The instinct of self-preservation protests against it. The surrender by Grant to Lee, and by Sherman to Johnston, would have been disasters of less magnitude, for new armies could have been raised, new battles fought, and the government saved. The anti-coercive policy, which, under pretext of avoiding bloodshed, allowed the rebellion to take form and gather force, would be surpassed in infamy by the matchless wickedness that would now surrender the halls of Congress to those so recently in rebellion until proper precautions shall have been taken to secure the national faith and the national safety.

Eighth. As has been shown in this report, and in the evidence submitted, no proof has been afforded to Congress of a constituency in any one of the so-called Confederate States, unless we except the State of Tennessee, qualified to elect senators and representatives in Congress. No State constitution, or amendment to a State constitution, has had the sanction of the people. All the so-called legislation of State conventions and legislatures has been had under military dictation. If the President may, at his will, and under his own authority, whether as military commander or chief executive, qualify persons to appoint senators and elect representatives, and empower others to appoint and elect them, he thereby practically controls the organization of the legislative department. The constitutional form of government is thereby practically destroyed, and its powers absorbed in the Executive. And while your

committee do not for a moment impute to the President any such design, but cheerfully concede to him the most patriotic motives, they cannot but look with alarm upon a precedent so fraught with danger to the republic.

Tenth. The conclusion of your committee therefore is, that the so

called Confederate States are not, at present, entitled to representation in the Congress of the United States; that, before allowing such representation, adequate security for future peace and safety should be required; that this can only be found in such changes of the organic law as shall determine the civil rights and privileges of all citizens in all parts of the republic, shall place representation on an equitable basis, shall fix a stigma upon treason, and protect the loyal people against future claims for the expenses incurred in support of rebellion and for manumitted slaves, together with an express grant of power in Congress to enforce these provisions.







House Reports, 39 Cong., I sess. (Washington, 1866), II, No. 30, xviii-xxi passim.

150. Arraignment of Reconstruction (1868)


Throughout the Civil War, Tilden, though nominally a War Democrat, objected to the extra-constitutional measures developed during the war, and from this attitude was led naturally to an opposition to the congressional theory and practice of reconstruction. When the speech from which this extract is taken was delivered, he was the recognized head of the Democratic party in New York, a position which he retained until his party selected him as its presidential candidate in 1876. For Tilden, see John Bigelow, Life of Samuel J. Tilden. — Bibliography as in No. 145 above.


HE Republican party recoiled for a while on the fatal brink of the policy on which it at last embarked. It had not the courage to conciliate by magnanimity, and to found its alliances and its hopes of success upon the better qualities of human nature. It totally abandoned all relations to the white race of the ten States. It resolved to make

the black race the governing power in those States, and by means of them to bring into Congress twenty senators and fifty representatives practically appointed by itself in Washington.

The effect of a gain to the Republican party of twenty senators and fifty representatives is to strengthen its hold on the Federal Government against the people of the North. Nor is there the slightest doubt that the paramount object and motive of the Republican party is by these means to secure itself against a reaction of opinion adverse to it in our great populous Northern commonwealths. The effect of its system and its own real purpose is to establish a domination over us of the Northern States.

When the Republican party resolved to establish negro supremacy in the ten States in order to gain to itself the representation of those States in Congress, it had to begin by governing the people of those States by the sword. The four millions and a half of whites composed the electoral bodies. If they were to be put under the supremacy of the three millions of negroes, and twenty senators and fifty representatives were to be obtained through these three millions of negroes, it was necessary to obliterate every vestige of local authority, whether it had existed before the rebellion, or been instituted since by Mr. Lincoln or by the people. A bayonet had to be set to supervise and control every local organization. The military dictatorship had to be extended to the remotest ramifications of human society. That was the first necessity. The next was the creation of new electoral bodies for those ten States, in which, by exclusions, by disfranchisements and proscriptions, by control over registration, by applying test-oaths operating retrospectively and prospectively, by intimidation, and by every form of influence, three millions of negroes are made to predominate over four and a half millions of whites. These three millions of negroes . . . have been organized in compact masses to form the ruling power in these ten States. They have been disassociated from their natural relations to the intelligence, humanity, virtue, and piety of the white race, set up in complete antagonism to the whole white race, for the purpose of being put over the white race, and of being fitted to act with unity and become completely impervious to the influence of superior intellect and superior moral and social power in the communities of which they form a part.

Of course such a process has repelled, with inconsiderable exceptions, the entire white race in the ten States. It has repelled the moderate portion who had reluctantly yielded to secession. It has repelled those

who had remained Unionists. The first fruit of the Republican policy is the complete separation of the two races, and to some extent their antagonism.


If those three millions of negroes elect twenty senators and fifty representatives, they will have ten times as much power in the Senate of the United States as the four millions of whites in the State of New York. . . . These three millions of blacks will have twice the representation in the Senate which will be possessed by the five great commonwealths, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, - embracing thirteen and a half millions of our people.

Let me not be told that this enormous wrong is nothing more than an original defect of the Constitution. I answer that it derives most of its evil and its danger from the usurpations of the Republican party. . . Changes are dared and attempted by it with a success which, I trust, is but temporary, - changes which revolutionize the whole nature of our


I. . . . The Constitution left the States with exclusive power over the suffrage, and the States have always defined and protected the suffrage from change by their fundamental laws. Congress now usurps control over the whole subject in the ten States, and creates negro constituencies, and vests them with nearly a third of the whole representation in the Senate, and nearly a quarter of the whole representation in the House. The leaders of the Republican party also claim the power by Congressional act to regulate the suffrage in the loyal States, and, without the consent of the people of those States, to alter their constitutions, and involve them in a political partnership with inferior races.

2. Congress, by the methods and means I have traced, usurps control over the representation in the two branches of the national legislature, and packs those bodies with delegates, admitting or rejecting for party. ends, and at length attempting to create a permanent majority by deputies from negro constituencies formed for that purpose. . .

4. Congress is systematically breaking down all the divisions of power between the co-ordinate departments of the Federal Government which the Constitution established, and which have always been considered as essential to the very existence of constitutional representative government. . . .

Congress has stripped the President of his constitutional powers over his subordinates in the executive function, and even over his own confidential advisers, and vested these powers in the Senate. It is now

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