Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865-1877

By William Archibald Dunning | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
WORKING TOWARDS A PEACE BASIS (1865)

FLAGRANT war ended, as it had begun, when Congress was not in session, and when the executive department of the government, therefore, must assume all the responsibility of dealing with the new situation. The man who took up the exercise of the chief executive power on April 15, 1865, was not the man whom any important element of the people in either North or South would have deliberately chosen for the task. Andrew Johnson had been nominated for the vice-presidency at Baltimore, in 1864, under the influence of two ideas which pervaded the convention--namely, that the Republican party had given up its identity and become merged in the Union party; and that the Union party was not sectional, but included South as well as North in its membership. Born in North Carolina, a resident during all his mature life of Tennessee, and an unfaltering supporter throughout his public career of the ante-bellum Democracy, Mr. Johnson, on the ticket with Lincoln, served excellently as a symbol of the party transformation which the war

-18-

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