The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction

By Charles Ernest Chadsey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.
JOHNSON'S THEORY: THE EXPERIMENT, AND ITS RESULTS.

1. We have briefly reviewed the theories that obtained greater or less consideration during the progress of the war, and have seen that no plan had been agreed upon by which the Southern States might resume their normal relations with the rest of the Union. Two or three States had, it is true, been nominally reconstructed under the provisions of the proclamation of December 8, 1863, but their good faith was strongly suspected, and their representatives were not able to secure recognition in Congress. The high personal esteem in which President Lincoln was held had prevented general demonstrations against his policy, but there was a wide-spread suspicion that he was inclined to deal too leniently with a people who had brought so much expense and misery upon the nation. The indignation of the North had increased with the progress of the war, and the belief that the South could be held in check only by the most stringent regulations and requirements was held by many.

2. So long as armed rebellion existed the question of reconstruction was a minor one, the attention of all being chiefly directed to the problem: "How can this rebellion be crushed out, and the South made thoroughly to realize that resistance is useless?" But when Andrew Johnson took the oath of office the rebellion was virtually a thing of the past, and the giant problem for the nation to solve during his administration was: "How shall we treat these conquered States

-28-

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