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THE appearance and condition of Andrew Johnson before the Senate, and representatives of foreign powers, when taking the oath as VicePresident, March 4, 1865, was not calculated to inspire general confidence. But, in the absence of further display of the same kind, the public had become silent, hoping something better. The memory of that incident threw a shadow over the great office he was called to assume. Some were favorably affected by the avowals of patriotism in numerous off-hand speeches, although touching but a single chord. Nothing was said of the great principles of Reconstruction, but treason was to be made "odious." The repetition of himself impressed Chief Justice Chase, as well as Mr. Sumner, and he said to the latter, "Let us see the President, and try to give him another topic." So, in company, at an early hour of the evening, about a week after the commencement of his Presidency, they called, and united in urging him to say something for the equal rights of our colored fellow-citizens. Though reserved in language, he was not unsympathetic in manner, so that, after the interview, the Chief Justice, on reaching the street, said: "Did you see how his face lighted at your appeal to carry out the Declaration of Independence?" A few days later Mr. Sumner called alone, and received from the President positive assurance of agreement on the suffrage question. His words were, "On this question, Mr. Sumner, there is no difference between us, you and I are alike." An account of these interviews, and the sequel, was subsequently given in an address at Boston, October 2, 1866.

Very soon it was too apparent that the President had adopted an opposite course. States were to be hurried back by Presidential prerogative on the electoral basis anterior to the war. Mr. Sumner from the beginning had regarded the votes of colored fellow-citizens necessary to a proper reconstruction, first, as an act of justice to them, and, secondly, as a counterpoise to the disloyal. He had urged this solution in the Senate, and had repeatedly presented it to President Lincoln. The Diary of Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy,


according to an article published by him, shows how Mr. Sumner pressed this duty in the most intimate councils. It appears that this Secretary was at the War Department, Sunday evening, April 16th, the day after President Lincoln's death, where he met Speaker Colfax, Mr. Covode, the very earnest Representative from Pennsylvania, Messrs. Dawes and Gooch, Representatives of Massachusetts, and Mr. Sumner. After stating that Mr. Stanton read to them the drafts of orders for the reorganization of Virginia and North Carolina, the article proceeds:

"Before concluding that which related to North Carolina, Mr. Sumner interrupted the reading, and requested Mr. Stanton to stop until he could understand whether any provision was made for enfranchising the colored man. Unless, said he, the black man is given the right to vote, his freedom is mockery.

"Mr. Stanton said there were differences among our friends on that subject, and it would be unwise, in his judgment, to press it in this stage of the proceedings.

"Mr. Sumner declared he would not proceed a step, unless the black man had his rights. He considered the black man's right to vote the essence,

the great essential."

In conformity with this declaration Mr. Sumner continued to act, as appears in correspondence and speech. His Eulogy on President Lincoln, at the request of the municipal authorities of Boston, was an appeal for the black man. So also was his private correspondence, during this summer, with Secretary Stanton, Secretary McCulloch, Secretary Welles, Secretary Harlan, and Attorney-General Speed, all of the Cabinet.

Meanwhile the President went forward in his "policy." The country was alarmed. Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, the acknowledged leader of the House of Representatives, partook of the anxiety which ensued. Though not yet prepared to press the ballot for all, he was strenuous against the assumption and precipitation of the President.

As early as May 10th he wrote to Mr. Sumner, from Philadelphia :"I see the President is precipitating things. Virginia is recognized. I fear before Congress meets he will have so bedevilled matters as to render them incurable. It would be well, if he would call an extra session of Congress. But I almost despair of resisting Executive influence."

This was followed by another letter, under date of June 3d, from Caledonia, Penn., where were his iron-works:

1 Lincoln and Johnson, their Plan of Reconstruction and the Resumption of National Authority; First Paper: Hartford Daily Times, March 19, 1872.

"Is it possible to devise any plan to arrest the Government in its mad career? When will you be in Washington? Can't we enlist bold men enough to lay the foundation of a party to take the helm of this Government and keep it off the rocks?"

Then, under date of June 14th, another, also from Caledonia:—

Is there no way to arrest the insane course of the President in 'reorganization'? Can you get up a movement in Massachusetts? I have thought of trying it in our State Convention. If something is not done, the How absurd his President will be crowned king before Congress meets. interfering with the internal regulations of the States, and yet considering them as 'States in the Union'!"

Also, under date of August 17th, from Caledonia :


"I have written very plainly to the President, urging delay. But I fear he will pursue his wrong course. With illegal courts and usurping reconstruction,' I know not where you and I shall be. While we can hardly approve all the acts of the Government, we must try and keep out of the ranks of the Opposition. The danger is that so much success will reconcile the people to almost anything."

August 26th, Mr. Stevens wrote from his home at Lancaster, Penn.:—

"I am glad you are laboring to avert the President's fatal policy. I wish the prospect of success were better. I have twice written him, urging him to stay his hand until Congress meets. Of course he pays no attention to it. Our editors are generally cowardly sycophants. I would make a speech, as you suggest, if a fair occasion offered. Our views ('Reconstruction and Confiscation') were embodied in our resolutions [in the Republican State Convention, recently held] at Harrisburg, amidst much chaff. Negro suffrage was passed over, as heavy and premature. Get the Rebel States into a territorial condition, and it can be easily dealt with. That, I think, should be our great aim. Then Congress can manage it."

In the same spirit, Hon. B. F. Wade, of the Senate of the United States, July 29th, wrote from his home at Jefferson, Ohio:

"I regret to say, that, with regard to the policy resolved upon by the President, I have no consolation to impart. To me all appears gloomy.

The salvation of the country devolves upon Congress and against the Executive. Will they be able to resist the downward tendency of events? My experience is not calculated to inspire me with confidence."

Hon. Henry Winter Davis, the able, eloquent, and courageous Representative in Congress from Baltimore, June 20th, in a long letter to Mr. Sumner, on our perils and duties, wrote:

"One way is to pass a law by two-thirds over the President's veto, prescribing the conditions of reconstruction of any State government, and declaring none republican in form which excludes negroes from voting. Such a law the President will be obliged to obey and execute. . . . . The other mode of solving the problem, over the head of the President, is to pass an Amendment of the Constitution prescribing universal suffrage. .... We have the requisite majority to pursue either of these plans; but is there nerve for the work? I have too often failed to inspire my political friends with that elevated sense of their own authority to dictate the course of affairs, to be sanguine of success in measures which require so much unity, energy, and singleness of purpose as these. The last Congress was not equal to it; is the present Congress? . . . . Now do me the favor to give me your views as fully as I have given you mine. I trust you are not, as I am, in despair."1


In the course of the summer a pamphlet was published in Boston, entitled "Security and Reconciliation for the Future: Propositions and Arguments on the Reorganization of the Rebel States," - being a collection of resolutions by Mr. Sumner, with the article in the Atlantic Monthly, the speech on the admission of Senators from Arkansas, and the Louisiana debate. The large edition of this collection drew attention, and helped prepare for the speech at the State Convention. A few extracts will show its reception.

Dr. George B. Loring, the agriculturist, afterwards Chairman of the State Committee of the Republican party in Massachusetts, and President of the Massachusetts Senate, wrote from Salem :

"I only wish all our statesmen had taken the ground adopted by yourself; it would have saved us infinite trouble. It entitles you to eternal thanks, and receives daily more and more assent."

Hon. John C. Underwood, District Judge of the United States, wrote from Alexandria, Va. :

"I have read your collected arguments on the subject of Reconstruction with great pleasure and profit. Let me thank you for convincing me, very much against my will, that to allow immediate representation to the Rebel States would be a cruel breach of faith and honor to the freedmen, and that we of the South must be just to these poor people, and submit to a genuine republican government, before we deserve admission again into the American family. I trust no petty personal ambition will prevent my full appre

1 Mr. Davis's brilliant life was closed by an early death, December 30, 1865, which deprived the country of his inestimable services in Reconstruction. See, post, Vol. X. p. 104. 2 Ante, Vol. VII. p 493. 3 Ante, p. 1.

4 Ante, p. 311.




ciation of the immensely important work for our country and humanity which you have so well performed."

Hon. Charles Eames, the able lawyer and scholar, former Commissioner to the Sandwich Islands, and Minister at Venezuela, residing in Washington, wrote from the sea-shore at Long Branch:

"It is a noble monumental record, worthy both of the subject and of the Senator, and which will stand a landmark in our parliamentary history. Every new day, as it comes, brings new attestation of your wisdom and foresight, and of the truthful views which from the first, and almost, if not altogether, alone in Congress, you took and faithfully expounded on the whole question of Reconstruction. The idea of hurrying these lately Rebel communities into participation in the enactment and administration of our laws seems to me the most absurd blunder ever perpetrated in history, with the possible exception of that earlier and still more monstrous enormity of error which assigned to them the right to give by silence a negative vote on the purposed change of our fundamental law."

Hon. John Y. Smith, an able and independent thinker, wrote from Madison, Wisconsin :


"Pray, honored Sir, do not be discouraged by the stupid prejudices with which you have to contend, but fight it out, and you may save the nation; for at no time during the war was it in greater peril than it is at this moment. The Ship of State has gallantly borne up through the storms of war, but I fear that President Johnson, with the best intentions, is running her straight upon the rocks."

A few extracts from newspapers attest the impression made by the Speech.

The Boston Transcript, which reported the speech on the afternoon of its delivery, said :

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"Mr. Sumner has made many powerful addresses, on many important occasions; but we think our readers will admit that he has never presented a more masterly argument, on a more important occasion, than that which he has urged on the Union Republicans in his speech of to-day. Clear and pointed in statement, felicitous in illustration, admirable in arrangement, cogent in logic, affluent in learning, with occasional bursts of eloquence which light up and animate, but never disturb, the course of the argument, the speech cannot fail to exert an immense influence on the formation of that public opinion which is to determine the mode by which one of the most momentous questions ever brought before the American people shall be definitely settled. . . . . Mr. Sumner does not merely attempt to convince the understanding; he strikes through it to the national conscience and sense of humanity and honor. His sentences are full of heat, as well as


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