The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXI
RECONSTRUCTION: THE SECOND PLAN

CONGRESS addressed itself, in the first instance, to extending and prolonging that provision for the freedmen which it had already made through the Freedmen's Bureau. A bill was reported, having the weighty sanction of Senator Trumbull and the judiciary committee, greatly increasing the force of officials under the Bureau; putting it under the military administration of the President and so with the direct support of the army; and broadening its functions to include the building of school-houses and asylums for the freedmen, and a wide jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases in which local laws made an unjust discrimination between the races. The bill passed the Senate and House, by the full party majority. It was sent to the President, February , 10, 1866, and nine days later he returned it with a veto message, calmly and ably argued. He objected to the bill as a war measure after peace had been proclaimed. He took exception to the intrusion of military authority upon the sphere of the civil courts, and to the extension of Federal authority in behalf of black men beyond what had ever been exercised in behalf of white men. The message was strong enough to win a few of the orthodox Republicans, including ex-Governor Morgan of New York, and the two-thirds vote necessary to carry the bill over the veto could not be gained.

Up to this time there seems reason to believe that while the Republicans in Congress were firm in claiming for that

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