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position in behalf of justice we are to take the risks of the many acts of injustice that would necessarily follow from an almost countless number of agents, over whose decisions there is to be no supervision or control by the federal courts.
The country has returned or is returning to a state of peace and industry, and the rebellion in in fact at an end. The measure, therefore, seems to be as inconsistent with the actual conditions of the country as it is at variance with the Constitution of the United States.” He considered the provisions which proposed to take away land from its former owners without due process of law, unconstitutional. Other more general objections were mentioned, such as the immense patronage created and immense expense involved, the dangerous concentration of power in the Executive, and the ethical objection that legislation which implies that the freedmen "are not expected to attain a self-sustaining condition must have a tendency injurious alike to their character and their prospects." ;
The unification of opposition to the President, which was accomplished through his speech of February 22, afterwards impelled the friends of the Freedmen's Bureau bill to make another attempt to secure its passage, believing that it then could be passed over the President's veto. The ball was again set rolling by Mr. Eliot, of Massachusetts, who on May 22 introduced a bill designed to take the place of the defeated bill, yet different enough to afford a plausible pretext for again bringing the question forward. Slightly amended, it passed the House on May 29 by a vote of 96 to 32. The bill, with amendments, reported from the Committee on Military Affairs, of which Senator Wilson, of Massachu
Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, ist Session, pp. 915-917; McPherson, History of Reconstruction, pp. 68–72.
* See Wilson, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, iii. 497-99; Wilson, History of the Reconstruction, 184-195: Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, ü, 171-2.
setts, was chairman, was taken up for consideration by the Senate on June 26, and passed. The House non-concurring, a committee of conference was appointed, which made some minor changes, to which the Senate on July 2, and the House on July 3, agreed. A veto message of the President was received on July 16, and the bill was passed over the veto on the same day.'
To all intents and purposes this act differed but little from the first vetoed bill. It continued the original Freedmen's Bureau Act in force for two years, and contained certain additional provisions for the education of the freedmen, for the recognition of their civil rights, and for the protection of such rights by military power.
President Johnson, in his veto message, declared that a careful examination had convinced him that the same reasons assigned in his veto of February 19, applied also to this
Such legislation was justifiable only under the war power, and should not extend to times of peace. The now existing federal and state courts, he went on to say, were amply sufficient for the protection of the freedmen, and the existence of the prevalent disorders furnished no necessity for the extension of the bureau system. The practical operation of the bureau showed that it was becoming an instrument of fraud, corruption and oppression, while the civil rights bill, needless as it was, provided methods of protection far preferable to the military protection authorized by this bill. The legislation regarding the disposal of land was discriminating, unsafe, and unconstitutional, and in conclusion he urged upon Congress the dangers of class legislation.
The votes were: House, 104 to 33; Senate, 33 to 12. For the text of the bill, see Congressional Globe, ist Session, 39th Congress; McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, pp. 149-50. Blaine, Twenty years of Congress, ii, 172, states that the bill was far less popular than the measure vetoed on February 19. “It required potent persuasion, re-enforced by the severest exercise of party discipline, to prevent a serious break in both Houses against the bill.”
5. The mere veto of the first Freedmen's Bureau bill would not have been of great significance had it been the only act of the President at this time offensive to the rank and file of the Republican party. But on two other occasions he acted very indiscreetly, February 7 and February 22, the latter coming so shortly after the veto message on the first bill that the antagonism of Congress was greatly intensified.
On February 7, 1866, a delegation of colored representatives from fifteen States and the District of Columbia called upon President Johnson in order to present their wishes concerning the granting of suffrage to their race. Geo. T. Downing and Frederick Douglass acted as spokesmen. In reply, President Johnson described his sacrifices for the colored man, and went on to express his indignation at being arraigned by incompetent persons. Although he was willing to be the colored man's Moses, he was not willing “ to adopt a policy which he believed would only result in the sacrifice of his [the colored man's] life and the shedding of his blood.” The war was not waged for the suppression of slavery; "the abolition of slavery has come as an incident to the suppression of a great rebellion—as an incident, and as an incident we should give it the proper direction." He went on to state that the negro was unprepared for the ballot, and that there was danger of a race war. The States must decide for themselves on the question of the franchise. “Each community is better prepared to determine the depository of its political power than anybody else, and it is for the legislature * to say who shail vote, and not for the Congress of the United States.":
This plain statement of his opposition to negro suffrage greatly added to Johnson's unpopularity. This was not due to the fact that his views on that subject had not been made
1 McPherson, History of the Reconstruction, 52–56.
public before, for he never had tried to conceal his attitude towards any of the questions before the people. But the attitude of the people themselves had greatly changed since the ill treatment of the freedmen and the objectionable legislation of the Southern States had been placed vividly before the public through the newspapers. The sentiment in favor of the extension of the franchise had rapidly gained strength; and the attitude of the President, made conspicuous anew by his almost harsh reply to so prominent a delegation representing such a wide extent of territory, called forth much hostile criticism, which, added to the vigorous letter published by the delegation in reply to the President, aided in unifying the opposition to him.
On February 22 he made a speech in which he not only attacked by name certain leading politicians, but also criticised in terms the legislative branch of the government. This speech marks a distinct epoch in the history of the struggle between the President and Congress. Prior to it, the latter, although conscious of the rapid divergence of the paths each was following, and determined to render as nugatory as possible the President's policy, had not permitted the feeling of personal antagonism to influence its actions to any great extent. But from this time forth the lines were sharply drawn, culminating in the impeachment. Johnson bitterly hated the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. The very manner in which it had been authorizedthrough a concurrent resolution instead of a joint resolution for the purpose of preventing executive action-had embittered him; the principles which its majority represented and the personnel of the committee were equally distasteful to him.
In connection with the speech of February 22, it should be noticed that Mr. Stevens had two days before introduced a concurrent resolution, which passed the House, providing
that no senators or representatives were to be admitted until Congress should declare the State entitled to representation. Such a provision, the practical effect of which would be to place the subject in the exclusive control of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, Congress, as we have seen, struck out of the resolution authorizing that committee's appointment. The President had good reason to believe that Mr. Stevens' resolution would pass the Senate, as it did on the 2d of March, and he looked upon it as one more step in the usurpation of power by an “irresponsible directory.” Sensitive to all tendencies towards centralization, he saw in the power granted to the committee, and the measures proposed by it, a tendency towards the conditions against which he had spoken on April 21, 1865, when he said: “While I have opposed dissolution and disintegration on the one hand, on the other I am equally opposed to consolidation, or the centralization of power in the hands of a few.”
Public sentiment in Washington was very hostile to the Freedmen's Bureau, and on February 22 a mass-meeting was held to express popular approval of the action of the President in vetoing the bill. Adjourning to the White House, the crowd congratulated Johnson with tumultuous enthusiasm. A man more cautious would have limited his reply to a temperate expression of his views; but Johnson, ever eager to pose as the leader of the people, was led by the enthusiasm of the moment to abandon himself entirely to his prejudices, aggravated as they were by the circumstances above mentioned. Thus, on the anniversary of Washington's birthday, a day when he should have particularly refrained from par
| House Journal, 39th Congress, ist Session, 300, 315. The resolution was carried particularly to silence the Tennessee claimants for recognition. The somewhat anomalous position of that State gave grounds for the argument that it should be classed in the same category with the other Southern States. Thus Mr. Stevens was able to get the power for the joint committee which he had originally claimed.