Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

XXVI
RECONSTRUCTION 1865-1869

Assassination of Lincoln--Collapse of Confederacy--The question of reconstruction-Rupture between executive and legislative-- The attitude of Congress--Struggle for legislative ascendancy-- The plan and measures of the campaign--The victory of loose construction--The constitutional decisions.

THE rebellion had been from the outset a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight," to use the language of the small farmers who lived on the uplands of the South and who never loved the great planter aristocracy of the lowlands. When the government of the patrician class could no longer furnish resources nor secure foreign aid the struggle was, of course, useless. The Confederate army of northern Virginia set the example of surrender, and others were ready to follow, when Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, by a wretched notoriety- seeker, crazed by the impending ruin of a system with which he sympathized, but of which he had never been a part. Lincoln foully murdered, the world suddenly awoke to the supreme ability, courage, and kindness with which he had performed the terrible work allotted to him, and he became the martyr hero of an incensed but chastened people.

New life and energy revived the outraged North, and when Andrew Johnson succeeded to the presidency he had but one task, the rehabilitation of the Union. Napoleon III. had been preparing to take

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