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But it fell to Andrew Johnson to say the decisive word as to reconstruction. Johnson was a crude and sinewy specimen of a self-made man. Born a "poor white," he owed much of his advancement in politics to the favor with which the common people regarded his inherited prejudices against the highest class in the South. He felt, as another Southerner said, that the Confederate leaders had inaugurated "a rich man's war but a poor man's fight." He remained in the United States Senate after his state passed an ordinance of secession; and subsequently, as military governor of Tennessee, he reorganized a loyal state government in harmony with Lincoln's aims. His valuable services as a southern unionist and a Democrat led to his nomination for the vice-presidency. The whole Republican party was committed to the theory that the states were still in the Union; for, otherwise, how could they have favored Johnson, whose state was officially a part of the Confederacy? His courage and pugnacity were well known; but it was not yet fully realized that he was wholly lacking in the qualities that made Lincoln great. Johnson's intentions were good, but it was his acts that were to be influential. It was very unfortunate, even if accidental, that his inauguration as Vice-President was marked by inebriation and a meandering, egotistical harangue. Within a few days after he became President his public remarks showed that thoughts of his rise from a humble origin and of the necessity of punishing traitors were uppermost in his mind. The North blushed for his dull egotism and the South feared that he might be very revengeful.
Long before the iron frame was removed or the splints and bandages could be taken off, Seward was eager to return to his work. Nearly a month elasped before he was able to attend a Cabinet-meeting, even when it took place in his own house; and then "his immovable arm
and stiffened jaw rendered him almost incapable of taking part in the examination of papers or the discussion of questions." He seems to have had no thought of retiring from the Department of State. The diplomatist's work is likely to be hardest before and after war. Seward's undertakings were necessarily far from complete. The two most important questions of long standing-French intervention in Mexico and Great Britain's alleged violations of neutrality-were still unsettled, and they were only a small part of the difficulties and projects in foreign relations that he was anxious to bring to a successful conclusion. He rightly believed, also, that his services were never more needed in the department. As a matter of course, he dreaded to think of the time when he should have no responsibility and but little influence in politics.
The opinions Johnson had expressed about treason and negro suffrage' caused many persons to expect that his policy would differ radically from that of his predecessor. But a presidential order of May 9th-the day the Cabinet met at Seward's house-designed to re-establish the authority of the United States in Virginia, applied the policy that Lincoln's administration had lately decided on. Likewise the amnesty proclamation of May 29, 1865, closely followed Lincoln's of earlier date. It was almost a matter of course, owing to changing circumstances, that the oath prescribed by Johnson should make the recognition of emancipation more positive, and that the exceptions from this general pardon should be more numerous. Each proclamation excluded all persons that had violated their oaths of alle
1 3 Seward, 281, 282.
* 4 Pierce, 253, 254, quotes Seward's remarks to Sumner.
* 4 Pierce, 242, 243, 245.
4 McPherson's Reconstruction, 8; McCulloch's Men and Measures of Half a Century, 378.
giance to the United States or had been conspicuous in the civil, the military, or the diplomatic service of the Confederacy. One feature peculiar to Johnson's policy was to preclude from amnesty all voluntary participants in the rebellion who possessed property estimated at the taxable value of over twenty thousand dollars.' Even the men in the excepted classes were promised that, on special application, clemency would be "liberally extended" to them as far as might be "consistent with the facts of the case and the peace and dignity of the United States." On the same day the President appointed a provisional governor for North Carolina and authorized him to arrange for a convention of loyal citizens chosen by persons that had been rehabilitated and were voters according to the constitution and laws in force in the state just previous to the passage of the ordinance of secession. The questions of suffrage and of eligibility to hold office were to be left to the convention or to the legislature, for the proclamation de
12 Blaine's Troenty Years of Congress, 66 ff., 108, makes some very entertaining statements about Seward's influence in causing Johnson to change his idea of reconstruction. The only fault to be found with them is that they are chiefly assumption and imagination and tend to conceal the facts. No one has ever produced evidence showing that Johnson needed to be convinced that the work of reconstruction could be best directed by the executive department of the government. And before Seward was able to talk without great pain Johnson had begun to follow the course Lincoln had laid out for himself. So the President must either have changed his plans after merely a few words with Seward or have surrendered in advance, having heard of what Blaine called Seward's "faculty, in personal intercourse with one man or with a small number of men, of enforcing his own views and taking captive his hearers." Assuming that Johnson felt this magic in the beginning, one is left to wonder why that same magic was unable to prevent him from showing his prejudice against the wealthy class (2 Blaine, 74), or from making so sorry an exhibition of himself before the public, or from letting southern men "fasten their hold upon Mr. Johnson even to the exclusion of Mr. Seward.” (2 Blaine, 109.)
clared that that was a power the people of the several states had rightfully exercised from the foundation of the government. Before the middle of July all the other unorganized states were treated in the same way. Johnson was advancing by long strides, but his course was essentially the same as the one Lincoln had in prospect.
The amnesty proclamation directed that the Secretary of State should have general supervision of the system of political pardons. Many men in the excepted classes made oral applications either at the department or at Seward's house. "They come to me," he wrote in August, 1865, "as if I were more inclined to tenderness than others, because I have been calm and cool under political excitement." " Many years later, William Henry Trescot described' how Seward, with mock severity of voice and facial expression, answered his requests for the return of confiscated lands by playfully declaring that the ex-Confederate leaders must humble themselves before obtaining forgiveness. Then the Secretary entered into a pleasant conversation, and did all he could to aid the applicant. R. M. T. Hunter was a man toward whom one would not expect Seward to show any friendship. After Hunter was released as a prisoner of war, he visited Washington. Seward greeted him as if they had been life-long friends, and invited him to dinner. The Virginian found under his plate a pardon duly signed and sealed. It was typical of Seward's disposition to make friends of enemies, of his goodfellowship, and of his easy-going ways about matters that he regarded as of secondary importance.
During the New York campaign in the autumn of 1865 Weed and Raymond decided that Seward-although he had not yet recovered from his wounds* 3 Seward, 293.
3 In conversation with the author.
1 Dunning, 79 ff.
ought to address the public in defence of the Presi dent's policy, which was not gaining in popularity at the North. So it was arranged that while he was on a visit to Auburn a company of friends and neighbors should call, and that in reply to some remarks from a local clergyman, Doctor Hawley, the Secretary of State should express his opinions on the political situation. The speeches to be delivered were dictated in advance to the same stenographer. The programme was carried out, and Seward spoke from his own doorstep.'
Of the method of reconstruction he said: "It is the plan which abruptly, yet distinctly, offered itself to the last administration . . . when the work of restoration was to begin; . . . it is the only possible plan which then or ever afterward could be adopted. . . . In the mean time, the executive and legislative authorities of Congress can do no more than discharge their proper functions of protecting the recently insurgent states from anarchy during the intervening period while the plan is being carried into execution." "
Many Republicans were beginning to doubt if the work of rehabilitation was not proceeding too rapidly to be safe and sincere. Seward's reply was:
"Certainly you must accept this proposed reconciliation, or you must propose to delay and wait until you can procure a better one. Are you sure that you can procure a better reconciliation after prolonged anarchy, without employing force? Who will advocate the employment of force merely to hinder and delay, through prolonged anarchy, a reconciliation which is feasible and perfectly consistent with the Constitution? In what part of the Con
1 These statements are made on the authority of George R. Bishop. Mr. Bishop went to Auburn at the request of Henry J. Raymond and acted as Seward's stenographer for a few days.-Letter of March 10, 1896, to the author. 2 5 Works, 519.