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State of West Virginia, subsequently organized, was admitted into the Union on the assumption that the Pierpont government was legitimate, and that its consent to the division of the State fulfilled the constitutional requirement on that subject. The preliminary work of reconstruction elsewhere had during the year been going on substantially according to this beginning — except that no division of a State was thought of — and in general harmony with the President's views as set forth in the Amnesty Proclamation. In Louisiana measures were taken for the formation of a new Constitution, and representatives were sent to Congress in two districts and admitted to seats. Tennessee had continued to have representation in both branches of Congress. If the action in these several cases was to be taken as a precedent, there was little ground for objection on the part of Congress to the reconstruction policy set forth in the Amnesty Proclamation. It is indeed true that at first it seemed to meet with general favor.
In Louisiana an anti-slavery amendment to the State Constitution was adopted by a convention chosen in accordance with a proclamation of General Banks. Michael Hahn, at the same time elected Governor, was by the President “invested with the powers exercised hitherto by the military Governor of Louisiana.” Privately, Lincoln wrote to Mr. Hahn (March 15th, 1864):
I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as the first Free-State Governor of Louisiana. Now you are about to have a convention, which, among other things, will probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest, for your private consideration, whether some of the colored people may not be let in, as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks.
They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty in the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone.
Probably no one to-day, after the experience of a generation, has a profounder appreciation than Lincoln already had of reconstruction troubles from two causes: First, the attempt to put the white and black races on the same footing as citizens; and, secondly, the migration of Northern men into the South to assume political authority after the war. It is doubtful if he ever went farther in any speech or writing in approving negro suffrage at the South than in the above guarded words. As to any pretended representation of Southern people based upon anything but their own free choice whenever the form of an election was gone through, he spoke with impatience and irritation.
He wrote to Military Governor Shepley (on the 21st of November, 1862) concerning apprehensions expressed that Federal officers not citizens of Louisiana might be candidates for Congress from that State:
In my view, there could be no possible object in such an. election. We do not particularly need members of Congress from those States to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of Congress and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them and send them. To send a parcel of Northern men here as representatives, elected, as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous, and were I a member of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such man to a seat.
Arkansas, which at first refused to join the Secession movement, had now been brought under the control of
Union arms, though the work of reconstruction necessarily began later than in Louisiana. Early in the year 1864 steps were taken which resulted in the establishment of a loyal State government and the election of United States Senators.
A similar attempt was made, but with different result, to reconstruct Florida in the department commanded by General Gillmore, to whom the President wrote (January 13, 1864):
The detail labor will, of course, have to be done by others; but I will be greatly obliged if you will give it such general supervision as you can find consistent with your more strictly miiltary duties.
Under orders from General Gillmore, an expedition under General Truman Seymour set out from Jacksonville for the interior in February. Gillmore stated its objects to be: To procure an outlet for cotton, lumber, and other commodities; to cut off one source of the enemy's supplies; to obtain recruits for colored regiments; and “to inaugurate measures for the speedy restoration of Florida to her allegiance, in accordance with instructions . . . received from the President by the hands of Major John Hay, Assistant Adjutant-General.” Seymour was a man of intrepid courage, and only too eager to improve an opportunity for effective . work. Gathering his available forces from their several posts, he advanced on the 20th, aiming at Lake City. Gillmore, learning Seymour's purpose, had sent a messenger from Hilton Head to arrest the movement, but too late. Near Olustee on the day this advance began, with only about five thousand men, Seymour suddenly found himself entrapped by an overwhelming force brought up from points within easy communication in
Georgia. His white and black soldiers alike fought with persistent courage. It was a bloody encounter, with severe loss and defeat for the Union side. * Reconstruction was for the time abandoned in Florida.
In Tennessee, Military Governor Andrew Johnson was managing affairs in a more promising field. To Representative Maynard, who had written on the subject, the President telegraphed on the 13th of February:
Of course Governor Johnson will proceed with reorganization as the exigencies of the case appear to him to require. I do not apprehend he will think it necessary to deviate from my views to any ruinous extent. On one hasty reading I see no such deviation in his program, which you send.
There had been hopes of rallying and protecting a considerable Union party in Texas. A Military Governor had been appointed long before, but all plans for establishing him in power with military support had lamentably failed hitherto, and worse failure was coming. In the latter part of March, the Red River expedition, in which Banks had the aid of Admiral Porter's fleet and A. J. Smith's corps from Sherman's command, set out from Alexandria, one hundred and forty miles up the river, destined for Texas by way of Shreveport. In two weeks the expedition met its fate in the battle of Sabine Cross Roads. † It only remained to withdraw the army and the fleet to the Mississippi River, a dangerous work, which was accomplished with difficulty.
* Union—killed, 203; wounded, 1,152. Confederate-killed, 98; wounded, 847.
† Banks reported his losses (April 7-9) as 289 killed, 1,541 wounded, and 2,152 missing. War records give the Confederate losses as 350 killed, and 1,850 wounded. On his return to New Orleans, in May, Banks was superseded by Major General E. R. S. Canby.
Grant Lieutenant-General - Another Presidential Canvass Foreshadowed — The Armed Blacks — The Hodges
Letter -- Prisoners Unexchanged.
The President, in truth, expected no effectual reconstruction so long as there were resisting armies in the field. Tennessee even, though he had military possession of its capital, of Memphis in the west, and Chattanooga and Knoxville in the east, and of other important points between, was still without a regular and settled government, or the immediate prospect of one. His main reliance” was always in the
was always in the "war power," exerted with no less an object and end than the destruction of the Confederate armies as a whole. He hoped this result from another season's campaigning, under a new General-in-chief — one no longer to be sought for or taken on trust, but one who had been thoroughly tested by trial.
Ulysses S. Grant, beginning with the command of a regiment of volunteers, had been gradually advancing toward the highest command — not by influence or favor, but by simply doing his duty as a soldier. Not only had he in good faith sought to do his best in whatever position was given him, leaving all that person
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