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its mighty pulsations. It is for this reason that, long before the convention met, the popular instinct had plainly indicated you as its candidate, and the convention therefore merely recorded the popular will. Your character and career prove your unswerving fidelity to the cardinal principles of American liberty and of the American Constitution. In the name of that liberty and Constitution, sir, we earnestly request your acceptance of this nomination, reverently commending our beloved country and you, its Chief Magistrate, with all its brave sons who, on sea and land, are faithfully defending the good old American cause of equal rights, to the blessing of Almighty God.
In accepting the nomination the President observed the same wise rule of brevity which he had followed four years before. He made but one specific reference to any subject of discussion. While he accepted the resolution in regard to the supplanting of republican government upon the Western continent, he gave the convention and the country distinctly to understand that he stood by the action already adopted by himself and the Secretary of State.
There might be misunderstanding [he said] were I not to say that the position of the Government in relation to the action of France in Mexico, as assumed through the State Department and indorsed by the convention among the measures and acts of the Executive, will be faithfully maintained so long as the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable.
THE WADE-DAVIS MANIFESTO.
In his message to Congress of the 8th of December, 1863, Mr. Lincoln gave expression to his ideas on the subject of reconstruction more fully and clearly than ever before. He appended to that message a proclamation of the same date guaranteeing a full pardon to all who had been implicated in the rebellion, with certain specified exceptions, on the condition of taking and maintaining an oath to support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; to abide by and support all acts of Congress and proclamations of the President made during the rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme Court. The exceptions to this general amnesty were of those who, having held places of honor and trust under the Government of the United States, had betrayed this trust and entered the service of the Confederacy, and of those who had been guilty of treatment of colored troops not justified by the laws of war. The proclamation further promised that when in any of the States in rebellion a number of citizens equal to onetenth of the voters in the year 1860 should
reëstablish a State government republican in form, and not contravening the oath above mentioned, that such should be recognized as the true government of the State, and should receive the benefits of the constitutional provision that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened), against domestic violence." The President also engaged by this proclamation not to object to any provision which might be adopted by such State governments in relation to the freed people of the States which should recognize and declare their permanent freedom and provide for their education," and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class." He suggested that in reconstructing the loyal State governments, the names, the boundaries, the subdivisions, the constitutions, and the general codes of laws of the States should be preserved. He stated distinctly that his proclamation had no reference to States where the loyal State governments had all the while been maintained; he took care to make it clear that the respective Houses, and not the Executive, had the constitutional power to decide whether members sent to Congress from any State should be admitted to seats; and he concluded by saying:
This proclamation is intended to present the people of the States wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal State governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State governments may be reëstablished within said States, or in any of them. And while the mode presented is the
best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.1
The message contained an unusually forcible and luminous expression of the principles embraced in the proclamation. The President referred to the dark and doubtful days which followed the announcement of the policy of emancipation and of the employment of black soldiers; the gradual justification of those acts by the successes which the national arms had since achieved; of the change of the public spirit of the border States in favor of emancipation; the enlistment of black soldiers, and their efficient and creditable behavior in arms; the absence of any tendency to servile insurrection or to violence and cruelty among the negroes; the sensible improvement in the public opinion of Europe and of America. He then explained the purpose and spirit of his proclamation. Nothing had been attempted beyond what was amply justified by the Constitution; the form of an oath had been given, but no man was coerced to take it; the Constitution authorized the Executive to grant or withhold a pardon at his own absolute discretion, and this includes the power to grant on terms, as is fully established by judicial authority. He therefore referred to the provision of the Constitution guaranteeing to the States a republican form of government as providing precisely for the case now under treatment; where the element within a State favorable to republican government in the Union might "be too feeble for an opposite and hostile element external to or even within the State."
An attempt [said the President] to guaranty and protect a revived state government, constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very element against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply absurd. There must be a test by which to separate the opposing elements, so as to build only from the sound; and that test is a sufficiently liberal one which accepts as sound whoever will make a sworn recantation of his former unsoundness.
In justification of his requiring in the oath of amnesty a submission to and support of the antislavery laws and proclamations, he said:
Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them their fullest effects, there had to be a pledge for their mainte
1 In some instances this proclamation was misunderstood by generals and commanders of departments, so that prisoners of war were allowed on their voluntary application to take the amnesty oath. This was not the President's intention, and would have led to serious embarrassment in the matter of the exchange of prisoners.
He therefore, on the 26th of March, 1864, issued a supplementary proclamation declaring that the proc
nance. In my judgment they have aided and will further aid the cause for which they were intended. To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith. I may add, at this point, that while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.
The President called attention to the fact that this part of the oath is subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and supreme judicial decision; that the whole purpose and spirit of the proclamation is permissive and not mandatory.
tional Executive in any reasonable temporary State The proposed acquiescence [he said] of the Naarrangement for the freed people is made with the view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which must at best attend all classes by a total revolution of labor throughout whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people in those States may be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of their affliction if, to this extent, this vital matter be left to themselves, while no power of the National Executive to prevent an abuse is abridged by the proposition.
He had taken the utmost pains to avoid the danger of committal on points which could be more safely left to further developments. Saying that on certain terms certain classes will be pardoned with rights restored, it is not said that other classes or other terms will never be included; saying that reconstruction will be accepted if presented in a specified way, it is not said it will never be accepted in any other way." The President expressed his profound congratulation at the movement towards emancipation by the several States, and urged once more upon Congress the importance of aiding these steps to the great consummation.
It is rare that so important a state paper has been received with such unanimous tokens of enthusiastic adhesion. However the leading Republicans in Congress may have been led later in the session to differ with the President, there was apparently no voice of discord raised on the day the message was read to both Houses. For a moment all factions in
Congress seemed to be of one mind. One who spent the morning on the floor of Congress wrote on the same day: "Men acted as though the millennium had come. Chandler lamation applied only to those persons who, being yet at large and free from any arrest, confinement, or duress, should voluntarily come forward and take the said oath with the purpose of restoring peace and establishing the national authority; and that persons excluded from the amnesty offered in the proclamation might apply to the President for clemency, like all other offenders, and that their application would receive due consideration.
was delighted, Sumner was joyous, apparently
1 See resolutions introduced in Senate Feb. 11, 1862. 2 J. H., Diary. 3 J. H., Diary.
I know [he said] these radical men have in them the stuff which must save the state and on which we must mainly rely. They are absolutely incorrosive by the virus of secession. It cannot touch or about for votes to carry through their plans, are taint them; while the conservatives, in casting attempting to affiliate with those whose record is not clear. If one side must be crushed out and the other cherished, there cannot be any doubt which side we must choose as fuller of hope for the future; but just there [he continued] is where their wrong begins. They insist that I shall hold and treat Governor Gamble and his supporters, men appointed by the loyal people of Missouri as representatives of Missouri loyalty, and who have done their whole duty in the war faithfully and promptly, who when they have disagreed with me have been silent and
kept about the good work- that I shall treat these men as copperheads and enemies of the Government. This is simply monstrous.
For the first few days there was no hint of any hostile feeling in Congress. There was, in fact, no just reason why the legislative body should regard its prerogative as invaded. The President had not only kept clearly within his constitutional powers, but his action had been expressly authorized by Congress. The act of July 17, 1862, had provided that the President might thereafter at any time, by proclamation, extend pardon and amnesty to persons participating in the rebellion," with such exceptions and on such conditions as he might deem expedient for the public welfare." Of course a general amnesty required general conditions; and the most important of these was one which should provide for the protection of the freedmen who had been liberated by the war.
It soon enough appeared, however, that the millennium had not arrived; that in a Congress composed of men of such positive convictions and vehement character there were many who would not submit permanently to the leadership of any man, least of all to that of one so gentle, so reasonable, so devoid of malice as the President. Mr. Henry Winter Davis at once moved that that part of the message relating to reconstruction should be referred to a special committee, of which he was made chairman, and on the 15th of February he reported "a bill to guarantee to certain States whose governments have been usurped or overthrown a republican form of government." Mr. Davis was a man of too much integrity and elevation of character to allow the imputation that his action on public matters was dictated entirely by personal feeling or prejudice; but at the same time it cannot be denied that he maintained towards the President from beginning to end of his administration an attitude of consistent hostility. This was a source of chagrin and disappointment to Mr. Lincoln. He came to Washington with a high opinion of the ability and the character of Mr. Davis, and expected to maintain with him relations of intimate friendship. He was cousin to one of the President's closest friends in Illinois, Judge David Davis, and his attitude in the Congress which preceded the rebellion was such as to arouse in the mind of Mr. Lincoln the highest admiration and regard. But the selection of Mr. Blair of Maryland as a member of the Cabinet estranged the sympathies of Mr. Davis and his friends, and the breach thus made between him and the Administration was never healed, though the President did all in his power to heal it. In the spring of 1863 Mr. Davis, assuming that the President might be inclined to favor unduly the conservative candidate in the election for VOL. XXXVIII.-55.
the next Congress, sought an interview with him, the result of which the President placed in writing in a letter dated March 18:
There will be in the new House of Representatives, as there were in the old, some members openly opposing the war, some supporting it unconditionally, and some supporting it with "buts" and "ifs" and "ands." They will divide on the organization of the House on the election of a speaker. As you ask my opinion, I give it, that the supporters of the war should send no man to Congress who will not pledge himself to go into caucus with the unconditional supporters of the war, and to abide the action of such caucus and vote for the person therein nominated for speaker. Let the friends of the Government first save the Government, and then administer it to their own liking.
Mr. Davis answered:
Your favor of the 18th is all that could be de
sired, and will greatly aid us in bringing our
friends to a conclusion such as the interests of the
In spite of all the efforts which the President made to be on friendly terms with Mr. Davis, the difference between them constantly widened. Mr. Davis grew continually more confirmed in his attitude of hostility to every He became proposition of the President. critics of the Administration in Congress. He one of the most severe and least generous critics of the Administration in Congress. He came at last to consider the President as
unworthy of even respectful treatment; and and aggressive campaign against European Mr. Seward, in the midst of his energetic unfriendliness, was continually attacked by him as a truckler to foreign powers and little less than a traitor to his country. The President, however, was a man so persistently and incorrigibly just, that even in the face of this provocation he never lost his high opinion of Mr. Davis's ability nor his confidence in his inherent good intentions. He refused, in spite of the solicitations of most of his personal friends in Maryland, to discriminate against the faction headed by Mr. Davis in making appointments to office in that State; and when, during an important campaign, a deputation of prominent supporters of the Administration in Maryland came to Washington to denounce Mr. Davis for his outspoken hostility to the President, saying that such a course, if it continued unchecked, would lose Mr. Lincoln the electoral
vote of the State, he replied:
I understood that Mr. Davis is doing all in his power to secure the success of the emancipation ticket in Maryland. If he does this, I care nothing
about the electoral vote.
In the preamble to his bill Mr. Davis expressed, with his habitual boldness and lucidity, his fundamental thesis that the rebellious States were out of the Union.
Whereas [he said], the so-called Confederate States are a public enemy, waging an unjust war, whose injustice is so glaring that they have no right to claim the mitigation of the extreme rights of war which are accorded by modern usage to an enemy who has the right to consider the war a just one; and,
Whereas, none of the States which, by a regularly recorded majority of its citizens, have joined the so-called Southern Confederacy can be considered and treated as entitled to be represented in Congress or to take any part in the political government of the Union.
This seemed to Congress too trenchant a solution of a constitutional knot which was puzzling the best minds of the commonwealth, and the preamble was rejected; but the spirit of it breathed in every section of the bill. Mr. Davis's design was to put a stop to the work which the President had already begun in Tennessee and Louisiana, and to prevent the extension of that policy to other Southern States. The bill authorized the appointment of a provisional governor in each of the States in rebellion, and provided that, after the military resistance to the United States should have been suppressed and the people sufficiently returned to their obedience to the Constitution and laws, the white male citizens of the State should be enrolled, and when a majority of them should have taken the oath of allegiance the loyal people of the State should be entitled to elect delegates to a convention to reëstablish a State government. The convention was required to insert in the constitution three provisions: First, to prevent prominent civil or military officers of the Confederates to vote for or to be members of the legislature or governor; second, that involuntary servitude is forever prohibited, and the freedom of all persons guaranteed in said States; third, no debt, State or Confederate, created by or under the sanction of the usurping power shall be recognized or paid by the State. Upon the adoption of the constitution by the convention, and its ratification by the electors of the State, the provisional government shall so certify to the President, who, after obtaining the assent of Congress, shall by proclamation recognize the government so established, and none other, as the constitutional government of the State; and from the date of such recognition, and not before, congressmen and Presidential electors may be elected in such State. Pending the reorganization, the provisional governor shall enforce the laws of the Union and of the State before rebellion. Another section of the bill emancipated all slaves in those States, with their posterity, and made it the duty of the United States courts to discharge them on habeas corpus if restrained of their liberty on pretense of any claim to service or
labor as slaves, and to inflict a penalty of fine or imprisonment upon the persons claiming them. Another section declared any person hereafter holding any important office, civil or military, in the rebel service not to be a citizen of the United States.
This bill was supported by Mr. Davis in a speech of extraordinary energy. Without hesitation he declared it a test and standard of antislavery orthodoxy; he asserted boldly that Congress, and Congress alone, had the power to revive the reign of law in all that territory which through rebellion had put itself outside of the law. "Until," he said, "Congress recognizes a State government organized under its auspices, there is no government in the rebel States except the authority of Congress." The duty is imposed on Congress to administer civil government until the people shall, under its guidance, submit to the Constitution of the United States, and, under the laws which it shall impose and on the conditions Congress may require, reorganize a republican government for themselves and Congress shall recognize that government. He declared there was no indication which came from the South, from the darkness of that bottomless pit, that there was a willingness to accept any terms that even the Democrats were willing to offer; he believed that no beginning of legal and orderly government could be made till military opposition was absolutely annihilated; that there were only three ways of bringing about a reorganization of civil governments. One was to remove the cause of the war by an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting slavery everywhere within its limits: that, he said, "goes to the root of the matter, and should consecrate the nation's triumph"; but this measure he thought involved infinite difficulty and delay. Though it met his hearty approval, it was not a remedy for the evils to be dealt with. The next plan he considered was that of the President's amnesty proclamation. This he denounced as utterly lacking in all the guarantees required:
If, in any manner [he said], by the toleration of martial law, lately proclaimed the fundamental law, under the dictation of any military authority, or under the prescriptions of a provost-marshal, somerepresented to rest on the votes of one-tenth of the thing in the form of a government shall be presented, population, the President will recognize that, provided it does not contravene the proclamation of freedom and the laws of Congress."
Having dismissed both of these plans with brief censure, he then made a powerful plea for the bill he had reported. He called upon Congress to take the responsibility of saying:
In the face of those who clamor for speedy recognition of governments tolerating slavery, that the