Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

February 26, 1869, Congress adopted the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, asserting the right of universal manhood suffrage without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude; and on March 3d the second session of the Fortieth Congress, having lasted from December 7, 1868, to that date, adjourned. On March 4, 1869, Grant and Colfax were inducted into office. The Fifteenth Amendment, after having been duly ratified by three- fourths of the States, was declared in force a year later.

This twentieth administration is most noteworthy in the history of party government. The two great parties being squarely pitted against each other on strict and loose construction lines, it was decided by the victors in the secession struggle that conquered States were virtually Territories, and could be restored to statehood only as new States are admitted. This, in fact, was the method of their readmission. Secondly, it proved impossible for the Republican party representatives in Congress, with an overwhelming majority in both Houses, to convict an Executive who had subjected himself to the severest moral censure, in private and in public life, under an indictment which in substance charged him with asserting in act and word the supremacy of his office. Thirdly, the Fifteenth Amendment, adopted as a party measure, has been a dead letter, because it does not command the moral support' of the country.

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