Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

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LINCOLN'S PLAN OF RECONSTRUCTION

WHILE with Johnson's aid Lincoln was endeavoring to reconstruct Tennessee, he was making similar attempts in other Southem states wherein the Union arms had gained a foothold.

On July 28th, 1862, he wrote to Reverdy Johnson: "The people of Louisiana--all intelligent people everywhere--know full well that I never had a wish to touch the foundation of their society, or any rights of theirs. With perfect knowledge of this, they forced a necessity upon me to send armies among them. . . . They very well know that the way to avert all this is simply to take their place in the Union upon the old terms."1

Two days later he wrote Cuthbert Bullett: "The people of Louisiana who wish protection to person and property have but to reach forth their hands and take it. Let them in good faith reinaugurate the national authority and set up a state government conforming thereto under the Constitution. They know how to do it, and can have the protection of the army while doing it. The army will be withdrawn as soon as such State government can dispense with its presence, and the people of the State can then upon the old constitutional terms govern themselves to their own liking."2

In August of the same year Lincoln appointed General George F. Shepley military governor of Louisiana,3 and an election was decreed for December.4 Two months earlier Lincoln had written Shepley: "We do not particularly need members of Congress to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of Congress and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are

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