SUMNER BEGINS TALKING OF IMPEACHMENT
ABOVE the and wastes of talk, the tiring tumult of Congressional debate, there shines the glorious light of Lincoln's hope like a golden lamp hung high aloft in some black sky,--and Andrew Johnson was following the gleam. With the pertinacity of crusaders of old times, he had dedicated his heart, his soul and his great courage to the consummation of the work his predecessor had begun.
When the reading of Johnson's message had been completed, and the country had received and heartily applauded it, it seemed as though the opponents of Lincoln and of Johnson would be baffled in their work of opposition. But they were ingenious, they were prepared, they were determined, and there were circumstances ready at hand to aid them. One of these was the legislation being then enacted by the Southern states for the control of their freed slaves,--legislation designed and executed in perfect good faith and based upon a sound appraisal of the actualities of the situation, but offering golden opportunities to Stevens and his friends to distort the motives and purposes of those enacting it.
In the very center of Lincoln's reconstruction proclamation there was this sentence: "And I do further proclaim . . . that any provision which may be adopted by such state government in relation to the freed people of such state which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which yet may be consistent as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive."1 Lincoln knew the Southern white men could be trusted. The former slaveholders harbored no hatred for the negro. While the white men were away fighting, the negroes remained, caring for the