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he had only a single ally among his Republican colleagues, and the lonely couple, with four Republican senators, proved to be the only habitual supporters of the President in the party that had elected him. But the Democrats came to his side with an alacrity that strengthened the Republican opposition. Their party had as a whole leaned toward the South during the war, and they now welcomed the easy terms held out by the President to their old associates. The Republican doctrine was best formulated by Shellabarger of Ohio, who, without going to the full length of Stevens's theory, maintained the essential right of Congress to lay down the conditions on which the seceded States could resume their old relation with the Federal Government. That seemed the just and inevitable logic of the situation; and it was expressed in as much conformity with the Constitution as was practicable after the rude jostle of a four years'
Meantime, Republican leaders in the Senate—Sumner, Wilson and Fessenden—were announcing the same doctrine, and were earnestly declaring that the actual conditions of the South called for stronger remedies than the President had provided. A joint resolution brought before Congress a report which had been made to the President by Carl Schurz, after a tour of several months for which he had been specially commissioned. With this report, the President sent also one from General Grant, whom he had asked, during an official trip of a few days, to observe the general disposition and temper of the Southern people. Grant stated his conclusion to be that “the mass of thinking men of the South accept the present situation of affairs in good faith"; and that they cordially acquiesce in the restoration of the national sovereignty and the abolition of slavery; and Grant's name carried great weight.
But Mr. Schurz's much longer and more careful study
had brought him to very different conclusions. He was a trained observer and thinker; a German refugee after the disturbances of 1848; a leader among the emancipationists in Missouri before the war, a general in the Union army, and a political radical. Mr. Schurz recapitulated his observations and conclusions, as he then reported them, in an article in McClure's Magazine for January, 1904; and they come now with increased weight after a life-time of disinterested and sagacious public service. That he found the Southern whites acquiescing in their defeat only as of necessity, conquered but not convinced-is no matter of surprise; though Mr. Schurz seems somewhat to have shared the Northern expectation that their late foes should take the attitude of repentant sinners. But as to their practical attitude toward the negro, his testimony is important. He relates that he found the general assertion to be “ You cannot make the negro work without compulsion." This conviction he encountered everywhere; all facts to the contrary were brushed aside, and every instance of idleness or vagabondage was cited as proof positive of the negro's unwillingness to labor. The planter who seriously maintained in Mr. Schurz's presence that one of his negroes was unfit for freedom because he refused to submit to a whipping, went only a little further than his neighbors.
As to actual behavior of the negroes, under this sudden and tremendous change of condition, certain facts were noted; not a single act of vengeance was charged against them; a great part, probably the large majority, remained or soon went back to work for their old employers; but a considerable part began an aimless roaming to enjoy their new liberty, or huddle around the stations where the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau doled out some relief. As to their education, popular opinion was no less unfavorable than as' to their labor. The common expressions were “learn
ing will spoil the negro for work,'
negro education would be the ruin of the South," and even "the elevation of the blacks would be the degradation of the whites." In practical application of these views, negro schools were frequently broken up and the school-houses burned; and in many places they were only safe under the immediate protection of the Federal troops. After many further particulars, especially as to the oppressive laws passed by the new governments, Mr. Schurz sums up: "To recapitulate; the white people of the South were harassed by pressing necessities, and most of them in a troubled and greatly excited state of mind. The emancipation of the slaves had destroyed the traditional labor system upon which they had depended. Free negro labor was still inconceivable to them. There were exceptions, but, as a rule, their ardent, and in a certain sense not unnatural, desire was to resist its introduction, and to save or restore as much of the slave labor system as possible.”
It was the character of the laws and ordinances passed under these circumstances which was to the better sentiment of the North the most concrete and convincing argument against restoring the Southern States by the short and easy road proposed by President Johnson. It is to those laws, and the condition underlying them, that we must ascribe the refusal of Congress-backed by Northern conviction—to confirm the early restoration which at first seemed so promising. So those laws deserve careful consideration, as well as the situation which led to them.
The Southern people, blacks and whites, were in a position of almost unexampled difficulty. To the ravages of war and invasion, of impoverishment and bereavement-and, as it fell out, to two successive seasons of disastrous weather for crops,-was added at the outset a complete disarrangement of the principal supply of labor. The mental over
turning was as great as the material. To the negroes " freedom" brought a vague promise of life without toil or trouble. The hard facts soon undeceived them. But for the indulgent Providence they at first hoped for, some occasional and partial substitute appeared in the offices of the Freedmen's Bureau. This had been established by Congress, in March, 1865, with the laudable design of helping to adjust the freedmen to their new condition; to make temporary provision for the extreme physical wants of some; to aid them in arrangements for labor and education; and, as was at first contemplated, to lease to them abandoned or confiscated lands, in plots of forty acres, for three years. This land provision was soon abandoned, there being no confiscation to provide the necessary land; but it started the expectation of " forty acres and a mule," which misled many a freedman. As chief of the Bureau was appointed General O. O. Howard, a distinguished Union commander, of the highest personal character, and entirely devoted to his new work; and under him was a commissioner with a working force in each of the States. The Bureau accomplished considerable good; but its administration on the whole was not of the highest class; among its subordinates were some unfit men; and a good deal of offense and irritation attended its operations. At most, it touched only the circumference of the problem. Three and a half millions of newly enfranchised, ignorant men, women and children! What should provide for the helpless among them, especially for the children, whom the master's care had supported ? How should order be maintained in the lower mass, half-brutalized, whom slavery had at least restrained from vagabondage, rapine, and crime? And how should the whole body be induced to furnish the dynamic, driving power of industry essential to the community's needs? These questions the South essayed to
answer in part by a system of laws, of which we may take as a fair specimen the legislation of Mississippi—the only State which had enacted this class of laws before Congress met,-as they are summarized in the thorough and impartial book of Professor J. W. Burgess, Reconstruction and the Constitution.
The law of apprenticeship ran thus: Negro children under eighteen, orphans or receiving no support from their parents, to be apprenticed, by clerk of probate court, to some suitable person,-by preference the former master or mistress; the court to fix the terms, having the interest of the minor particularly in view; males to be apprenticed till end of twenty-first year, females to end of eighteenth. No other punishment to be permitted than the common law permits to a parent or guardian. If the apprentice runs away, he is to be apprehended and returned, or, if he refuses to return, to be confined or put under bonds till the next term of the court, which shall then decide as to the cause of his desertion, and if it appears groundless compel his return, or if he has been ill-treated fine the master not more than $100 for the benefit of his apprentice. This statute seems not oppressive but beneficent.
The law of vagrancy provided that all freedmen having no lawful employment or business, or who are found unlawfully assembling, and all white persons so assembling in company with freedmen, or “usually associating with freedmen, free negroes, or mulattoes, on terms of equality,” are to be deemed vagrants, and fined, a white man not more than $200, a negro not more than $50, and imprisoned, a white man not more than six months, a negro not more than ten days. If the negro does not pay his fine within five days, he is to be hired out by the sheriff to the person who will pay his fine and costs for the shortest term of service. The same treatment is to be applied to any negro who fails to