Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865-1877

By William Archibald Dunning | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE FIRST CONGRESSIONAL POLICY OF RE­ CONSTRUCTION (1865-1866)

T HE Congress which assembled on December 4, 1865, was the product of the elections at which the Union party, with Lincoln and Johnson, had been victorious in 1864.1 In both House and Senate the Democrats had but small delegations. Among the majority there prevailed, of course, the same variety and uncertainty of opinion about reconstruction that were prevalent among the people at large; but the initiative in action was taken by the opponents of the president's policy, and was skilfully employed to commit the two houses to an attitude of hostility. Led by Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania, the most uncompromising of radicals, the majority in the House of Representatives denied to the members-elect from the rebel states even the recognition usually accorded to claimants for seats, and pressed through a resolution, to which the Senate promptly agreed, creating a joint com-

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1
See Hosmer, Outcome of the Civil War (Am. Nation, XXI.), chap. ix.

-51-

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