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pleted the remarkable series of national gatherings organized for effect on the State elections. They were all characterized by frankness of statement, and by clear recognition of the points at issue. But, as frequently happens in political campaigns, the most important incidents were those which were not designed to affect national issues. The riot at New Orleans was intended, by its participants, to affect only Louisiana politics, yet all the Southern States were compelled to share the responsibility. The same thing was true of all other incidents through which the South manifested, during these critical months, an unwillingness to accept the political results of the war.
5. The fall elections resulted in a decisive victory for the congressional policy, which secured a two-thirds majority in both houses. The protests of the President were shown to lack popular support, and his vetoes in the coming sessions were to be considered as merely one necessary step in the legislative formality of passing a bill. The country had decreed that Johnson could not have a voice in legislation. The campaign had been in all respects disastrous to the President. The support which he had received was mainly drawn from the Democratic party, and was of a half-hearted nature; for, however nearly they agreed in theory, the fact still remained that he was nominally a Republican President, and that almost all of his patronage was bestowed upon Republicans. He had thrown out decided hints that he would reverse his policy. For example, in St. Louis, on September 8, he said: “I believe in the good old doctrine advocated by Washington, Jefferson and Madison-of rotation in office. These people who have been enjoying these offices scem to have lost sight of this doctrine. I believe that one set of men have enjoyed the emoluments of office long enough. They should let another portion of the people have a chance.
Congress says he [the President]
shall not turn them out, and they are trying to pass laws to prevent it being done. Well, let me say to you, if you will stand by me in this action (cheers), if you will stand by me in trying to give the people a fair chance—soldiers and citizens—to participate in these offices, God being willing I will kick them out.
God willing, with your help, I will veto their measures whenever any of them come to me.”: But all this failed to give him that which he prided himself so much on having, the support of the people; and, so far as reconstruction was concerned, his influence was ended by the fall elections of 1866.
6. While such was the general result of the campaign, the South voted to sustain the President's policy. The fact that Johnson had taken direct issue with Congress, and was actively supporting Democratic principles, had a wonderful influence upon the South. The papers enthusiastically prophesied the complete overthrow of the Republican party. They reasoned that the enormous patronage of the President would ensure him a following so powerful that its coalition with Democracy could not but result in victory. Then, they reasoned, it would only be necessary to wait until the convening of the 40th Congress, when the obnoxious amendment would be discredited and the States readmitted to the possession of all their rights and privileges without further delay or conditions. They utterly failed to realize the injury which their discriminative legislation, the New Orleans riots, the widely spread reports of cruelty and oppression, and the defiant attitude of their press, had inflicted on their cause. They only saw that the administration and Congress were estranged, and believed that to be a sure indication of final success.
In this frame of mind they came to the polls, and in all the Southern States overwhelming Democratic majorities
| McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 140.
evidenced the popular sentiment among the dominant classes. Accordingly, when the State legislatures convened, the 14th amendment was rejected almost unanimously in all except Tennessee, which had ratified it in July. Delaware, Maryland and Kentucky, the border Union States, also rejected the amendment, allying themselves with the Southern cause. Twenty-one of the remaining twenty-four States ratified the amendment, endorsing thereby the action of Congress. Iowa, Nebraska and California did not act upon the amendment at this time.
Had Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner been able to persuade Congress to adopt their theory of the status of the Southern States, the amendment would have been assumed to be a part of the Constitution, as twenty-one States were more than three-quarters of twenty-seven, the total number of States represented in Congress. But the majority of congressmen were never able to adopt, in its entirety, the theory that the rebellion had utterly destroyed the States and left them mere territory. It preferred to accomplish the same result by less violent means. The legislation enacted as a result of the attitude of the South towards the amendment practically treated the States as conquered territory, yet they were counted in determining the ratification of both the 13th and the 14th amendment.
The defiant attitude taken by the Southern legislatures was a grave mistake. The most of them did not convene until Congress was again in session, after the defeat of the administration, and when they should have been able to see that their only hope was in submission. But the South, ever too ready to act first and consider the consequences afterwards, only saw in the proposed amendment an insult to the white race and an injustice to their leaders. That they should be asked deliberately to inflict upon themselves
1 McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 194.
this punishment, seemed a humiliation which self-respect could permit them only to spurn. They did not stop to realize that the rejection of these terms would cause measures still more severe to be enacted.
1. The second session of the 39th Congress opened with its members in a far different frame of mind from that in which they had assembled in 1865. Then they had approached their work with hesitation; their plans were not formulated; they could not know how far the country would sustain them in their opposition to the President. Now, in the Aush of victory, their policy sustained, the President discredited, with their two-thirds majority in both houses unbroken, they were prepared to proceed to enact legislation which not only should secure that which had been accomplished already, but also should settle finally the problem of reconstruction, and place the President in a position where he could do no harm."
Much curiosity had been felt as to the attitude which Johnson would take in his annual message. He believed thoroughly in the righteousness of his cause, and had such implicit confidence in the unerring judgment of the people that he had deemed it impossible that his policy would be repudiated. The results of the election were a great disappointment to him, and some had believed that he would introduce into the message the abuse which he had so unsparingly inflicted upon Congress during the campaign. The message, however, contained nothing approaching virulence, but on the contrary was a document eminently