« AnteriorContinuar »
THIRTY-NINTH AND FORTIETH CONGRESSES.
BY HENRY WILSON.
PUBLISHED BY SUBSCRIPTION ONLY, BY THE
J. A. STODDARD, CHICAGO, ILL.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by the
HARTFORD PUBLISHING COMPANY, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.
Electrotyped by LOCKWOOD & MANDEVILLE,
The sudden collapse of the rebellion in the Spring of 1865, precipitated upon the country the questions of reconstruction, restoration and reconciliation. The President, without consulting Congress, early assumed the task of initiating measures for restoring the rebel States to their practical relations to the Government. On entering upon that work, the President assured hesitating political friends that he was entering upon an experiment; that if it failed, the power to correct errors and mistakes would remain in Congress. The policy inaugurated by the President placed the rebellious States, that were without civil governments when hostilities ceased, completely under the control of the active supporters of the rebellion. Instead of referring the whole matter to Congress, the President assumed that his policy was eminently successful. He resolved to adhere to it, leaving to Congress simply the question of passing upon the qualifications of Senators and Representatives. Congress, believing that the power to initiate proceedings for the restoration of civil governments in the rebellious States was vested in the legislative, not the executive department of the government, and that the results
of the President's policy endangered the rights of the people and the authority of the nation, entered upon a series of legislative measures intended to secure the rights and privileges of the freedmen, protect those who had remained loyal to the Government, preserve order and put those States under the control of men loyal to the country, to liberty and justice. Measures were introduced, discussed, and some of them enacted into laws, to secure the desired ends of restoring the unity of the country and establishing the equality of rights and privileges of citizens of the United States. My purpose in this work has been to narrate with brevity and impartiality this legislation of Congress, and to give the positions, opinions and feelings of the actors in these great measures of legislation. I have endeavored to record with fidelity and fairness these Reconstruction Measures of Congress, and I present this volume to the public in the hope that it will be of some little interest to the readers of the history of these eventful times in our country.