Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
SHERMAN'S TRUCE

ALL WAS vague and uncertain," Welles remembered of the noon cabinet meeting on Saturday, April 15. Johnson told the tired men before him that he would announce his policies in due time, but in all essentials they would be the same as Lincoln's. He asked the cabinet members to stand by him in his difficult and responsible position, and with the others, Stanton numbly agreed. Over the weekend. Republican congressmen, drawn to the capital by news of the assassination, met with Johnson and were largely satisfied that his policies toward the South, and concerning the need for the Negro to vote there, were in substantial accord with their own.

When the new President again met with his cabinet, on Sunday morning, the sixteenth, Stanton, as was his responsibility, brought forward the plan of reconstruction he had presented at the last meeting of Lincoln's cabinet. In accordance with the dead President's request, he had now made separate provisions for North Carolina, where a new government had to be established, and for Virginia, where the loyal Pierpont government, though commanding the allegiance of only a fraction of the people, might become the basis of a restored commonwealth. He did not, however, have copies of the document ready; it was to be printed confidentially by trusted workers at the Treasury, and he wanted cabinet agreement on its contents before entrusting the plan to the typesetters. But the general tenor of the paper was clear to the assembled cabinet. There was little discussion; too much else remained to be done at that moment.

Welles thought that his earlier objection against the section of Stanton's plan which had proposed setting up a centralized provost marshal organization in the Army to stablilize conditions in the South until civil government came in, had been successful, for Stanton omit-

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