The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XXXII
RECONSTRUCTION: THE FINAL PLAN

THE Congress which met in December, 1866, was the same body as in the previous winter; but the prolonged contest, the President's misbehavior, the South's rejection of the offered terms, and the popular verdict at the November election, had strengthened the hands of the Republicans and intensified their temper. Thaddeus Stevens brought in, February 6, 1867, a bill which was trenchant indeed. It superseded the governments of the ten unreconstructed States, divided their territory into five military districts, placed their commanders under the orders, not of the President, but of the general of the army, and suspended the habeas corpus. It was military rule in its barest form, and for an indefinite period. Blaine moved an amendment, specifying the terms on which the States might be released from this military control and restored to their normal status. But Stevens's despotic sway shut out the amendment and carried the bill through the House. In the Senate, Sherman successfully carried a substitute, much the same as the Blaine amendment. This went back to the House, where a majority of Republicans favored the change, but Stevens still opposed it, and had enough followers to make together with the Democrats a majority that threw out the whole measure. But success by such allies was undesired by the radicals and alarming to the moderate Republicans. There was reconsideration, minor concessions to Stevens, and the bill finally passed February 20, not at all as he had designed it, but in a form due either to Blaine or Sherman.

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