RECONSTRUCTION of the Union was the urgent and difficult business that followed naturally upon the end of the war. For its successful accomplishment the plan must satisfy the sentiment of the great Union party at the North and must be accepted by the South; and to bridge the chasm between the two a wise constructor and moderator was needed. No man was so well fitted for the work as Lincoln would have been had he lived. Understanding as he had done both peoples and possessing in an eminent degree the necessary qualities of charity and firmness, he had a hold on his party which would have enabled him generally to lead whither he would go; and while the abundance of his mercy could not have been commonly emulated by a people who had just finished a bitter civil war he could have led them part way and when they held back resolutely, he would have given up some of his cherished ideas not because they were not right, but because they were inexpedient. Touching the assembling of the old Virginia legislature he had said to Secretary Welles, "I cannot go forward with everybody opposed to me"1 and that a similar feeling would have swayed him in his future policy cannot be doubted by any one who has carefully considered his acts as President. He would not have quarrelled with Congress; he would not have appealed from Congress to the country. His influence on both would have been enormous; but when he had exerted that influence by his wonderful power of persuasion and had failed either____________________
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Publication information: Book title: History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 6. Contributors: James Ford Rhodes - Author. Publisher: Macmillan Company. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1920. Page number: 1.
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