History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896 - Vol. 6

By James Ford Rhodes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXII

CONGRESS had enacted its plan of reconstruction and the execution of the laws which embodied it must now engage our attention. The situation was unique in our country. A strong and compact party had passed these acts of immense consequence in the face of the bitter opposition of the President; and this President who thought them unconstitutional and outrageous was the agent for their administration. His attitude was soon made known by his Attorney-General. In the argument for the government in the case of Mississippi vs. Johnson, when that State applied to the United States Supreme Court for an injunction to restrain the President from the enforcement of the Reconstruction Acts, Stanbery by Johnson's authority stated: "Although counsel in their bill have said that the President has vetoed these acts of Congress as unconstitutional, I must say, in defence of the President, this, that when the President did that he did everything he intended to do in opposition to these laws. From the moment they were passed over his veto there was but one duty in his estimation resting upon him, and that was faithfully to carry out and execute these laws."1 This promise was fulfilled. Before the Act of March23 was passed the President had, through the General of the Army, assigned the commanders to the several districts as defined in the Act of March 2.2 At this time the gov

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1
4 Wallace, 492.
2
A convenient list of those generals and their successors will be found in Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Dunning, p. 144. This will be referred to hereafter as Dunning.

-171-

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