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victory won! A cheering, exultant crowd beset the White House. Lincoln came out on the balcony, said a word of response, and invited them to come back two days later for a fuller word. When they came again, he talked to them and to the country. His whole theme was, What is our next duty ? Here is the next step, the first of the " erring sisters to return is to be welcomed back. Louisiana has adopted a constitution abolishing slavery, establishing public schools for black and white alike, and allowing the Legislature at its discretion to extend suffrage to the blacks. Under this constitution 12,000 voters have been enrolled. The Legislature has met and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment. Can we do better than to accept and restore them to the full privileges of statehood? For them would it not also be wise to extend the suffrage to the most intelligent negroes, and to those who have served in the Union army? As to all the seceded States, the question whether they have ever been out of the Union is "a merely pernicious abstraction." The real question is, how to get them again into proper practical relations with the Union. “Concede that the new government of Louisiana is to what it should be only as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it.” Let us be flexible as to our methods, inflexible as to vital principles.
These were his last words to his countrymen. Three days later, April 14, as he sat in Ford's theatre,—the strain of responsibility lightened by an hour of kindly amusement
- there fell on him, from an assassin's hand, the stroke of unconsciousness and speedy death. For himself, how could he have died better! At the summit of achievement, hailed by the world's acclaim, in the prime of manly strength, unweakened by decay, unshadowed by fear; a life of heroic service crowned by a martyr's death; a place won in the
nation's heart of such love and gratitu le as has been given to no other,-how better could he have died ?
But never was heavier bereavement than his death brought to the American people. It was not sorrow only, but lasting loss, beyond estimation and beyond repair. We know not how in the sum of things all seeming evil may find place, but to human eyes seldom was man taken who could so ill be spared. By nature and capacity he was above all else a peace-maker. Called to be captain in a great war, his largest contribution to its success had been in holding united to the common purpose men most widely varying among themselves. He said, toward the end, that he did not know that he had done better than any one else could, except perhaps at one point, he did think he had been pretty successful in keeping the North united. And while he did this, while he kept radicals and conservatives, Abolitionists and Unionists, New Englanders and Kentuckians, loyal to the common cause, he also shaped that cause toward the highest aims that his various constituency would admit. He could not bring them to his own highest thought,—they would not be persuaded to try compensated emancipation and peaceful reunion instead of war to the extremity. But he did lift a war for the Union to a war for freedom also, and so direct it that from the strife should emerge not the old, but a nobler nation. And now, the harder half was to be done! Instead of generalship, statesmanship; instead of animal courage, justice and kindness toward former foes; instead of holding the North together, to bring North and South together; that was the gigantic task now to be wrought. Who so fit for it as he? And for want of him, grievous and slow has been the journey
From the first thrill of passionate grief, men turned to ask anxiously what the new President was to be. He had
been selected with that carelessness as to the Vice-Presidency which is a tradition of American politics. Had the convention which renominated Lincoln chosen with care the man best fitted to aid or possibly succeed him in his work—had they for instance chosen John A. Andrew of Massachusetts-history might have been very different. But they took Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, with little scrutiny of his qualities, but desiring to broaden their ticket by including a Southern Unionist. Johnson had been bred as a tailor, with only the meagerest schooling, with no training in the law, going straight from his trade into politics, and by native force rising to the senatorship. He was regarded, and rightly, as a man of honesty, patriotism, courage, and rough energy. He had been conspicuous in denouncing the seceders with the heat of a border-State Unionist, and something of the uncontrolled temper of the
“Treason must be made odious,” had been his cry, “traitors must be punished.” In that war-heated time, there were good men who thought they read the purpose of the Almighty in removing the too kindly Lincoln, that the guilty rebels might be more severely scourged.
RECONSTRUCTION: THE FIRST PLAN
The new President gave at once the best possible reassurance as to his general course by retaining all the members of Lincoln's Cabinet. They remained, not as a temporary formality, but for a considerable time in full harmony with the President. Chase having left the Cabinet for the chiefjusticeship, by far the two strongest secretaries remaining were Seward and Stanton. Seward had been struck down at the same time with Lincoln, and dangerously wounded, but after a few weeks was able to resume his duties. Thus the two foremost men, after Lincoln, of the Republican party, Sumner and Seward, had been murderously assaulted, yet neither of them was embittered or altered in his course. Seward probably had great influence on President Johnson's early measures. The degree of that influence is a disputed point among historians, but the internal evidence points strongly to his having had a large share in the President's original plans, and materially aided their execution, though Johnson's strong will and hot temper marred and thwarted Seward's efforts. One of the secretary's special powers was a genial and persuasive skill in conversation; his historic place as the Republican premier gave him influence with the President; he had been in full sympathy with Lincoln's late course; and his constitutional theories and his optimism appear in the reconstruction scheme which the President soon proposed. Responsibility had steadied and sobered Johnson; his vindictiveness toward the South had disappeared,-one guesses with Seward's aid; and his
plan looked to a prompt and early return of the seceded States.
His proclamation of amnesty, indeed, issued May 29, was more numerous in its exceptions than Lincoln's; including almost the entire official class throughout the South, and adding all such as held property in excess of $20,000,which in theory was little other than an attempt to behead the political community of all its intelligent or wealthy members. But the added clause providing for a pardon of such by the President on special application proved in practice more significant than the formal exemptions. Scarcely an application for amnesty was refused, and it is recorded that in less than a twelvemonth 14,000 such applications were made and granted.
On the same day, May 29, President Johnson by proclamation appointed a provisional governor of North Carolina, and ordered an election of delegates to a constitutional convention. By July 13, he had issued similar proclamations for Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida. Texas's turn came a little later, the last embers of the war lingering there for a while. In Virginia, the President had recognized a shadowy loyal State government which had kept up a nominal existence. The three other seceded States,-Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee,-had already the State governments established under Lincoln, though unrepresented in Congress.
These overtures for formal reconstruction came to communities impoverished, forlorn, and chaotic, almost beyond imagination. Property, industry, social order, had been torn up by the plowshare of war. The prolongation of resistance until defeat was complete and overwhelming had ended all power and all wish to contend with the inevitable. The people, groping back toward even a bare livelihood, toward some settled order, some way of public and private