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The following books and papers have been consulted and found of use in the preparation of this dissertation:
Acts of the General Assembly of Tennessee 1861.
Daily Banner. 1860-1862, 1864-1866.
Union and American. 1865-1866.
Blaine20 Years in Congress.
Brownlow-Parson Brownlow's Book.
Chittenden-Report of the Secret Session of Peace Committee 1861.
Cox, S. S.-Three Decades of Federal Legislation,
The triumph of the federal arms in the American Civil War only placed upon the federal government a greater task. The sword could conquer but could not convince, could overthrow the Confederacy but could not reëstablish the Union, which then became a political necessity and a constitutional obligation of the government no less to the North than to the South. The North was compelled for its own sake to make the South equal with it in every sense, for to have held the South as a conquered province would have soon wrought the destruction of the Northern states as states. The Constitution could not long have stood the strain of two sorts of governments among states nominally and constitutionally equal. The re-admission of the seceded states to all their original rights under the Constitution was a problem which demanded immediate solution, but its complexity required time.
The re-admission of the states was not the only question involved in reconstruction. The admission of four millions of people, morally low, poverty-stricken and ignorant, as constituent members of the bodies-politic, and their transformation in a day into a people capable of performing the duties of citizenship in a highly civilized, self-governng society, was a question more difficult to solve. In fact, upon the question of the freedmen the whole subject of the re-admission of the states turned. Almost every act, either of Congress, of the President, or of the states themselves, was viewed in the light of its effect upon the negroes. It would perhaps have been just as well for all concerned if the Federal Government had left this matter entirely to the states, as it was done in the border states, but this was not in harmony with the policy of the party in power. The Federal Government had in the end to give the question over to the states. The question of the freedmen, however, although so intimately connected with the restoration of the states, must, in the present treatise, for obvious reasons, be left for the most part untouched.
Another important factor in the problem of reconstruction was the fact that it must be solved by the leaders of the party in power, whose preceding history rendered them least fit for such a task. The Civil War had greatly excited their passions, and, almost every day, they had stepped beyond the usual limitations of the Constitution, until it had become a habit with them to decide all questions according to their feelings rather than according to law. During the war, they had looked upon the Federal Government as possessing both the authority of a constitutional sovereign and all the rights of war accorded to a belligerent by the law of nations. As the constitutional rights were limited, they came more and more to rely upon the more vague and undefined powers confirmed by the laws of war. And, when the war was over, they applied to the questions of reconstruction the same absolutism which they had employed during the war. They were evidently wholly unfit for the settlement of so important a matter, but as they were the party in power, they alone could solve it. This necessity, however, made the solution of the problem the more difficult.
How to solve the problem the men in power could not agree. The difficulties in the way were almost insurmountable. The questions of law would not harmonize with the facts. There was, indeed, only one solution and that was found, not in the statesmanship of the Federal Government, nor in the virtues of the freedmen, nor in the good temper and good policy of the South, but in the good common-sense of the whole American people. The sense of fairness in the people led to the revival of the principle that the people must be trusted—the fundamental principle of the Constitution. The Republic of the Constitution could only be saved by the application of this principle to the whole country. To this principle of the Constitution the politicians had at last to yield and to leave the question of the social status and business relations of the freedman to be solved by himself and his former owner.
The judiciary was the first to make this change from the way of the politician. In the case of Texas v. White, the Supreme Court reasserted the principle that our country is "an indestructible Union of indestructible states. The people recognized this as a principle long cherished, and began to retrace their steps and to
1. McPherson's History of Rebellion, 326. 2. 7 Wall, 700.