%486. The Reconstruction Act%.—The Reconstruction Act marked out the ten unreconstructed states (Tennessee had been admitted to Congress in March, 1866) into five districts, with an army officer in command of each, and required the people of each state to make a new constitution giving negroes the right to vote, and send the constitution to Congress. If Congress accepted it, and if the legislature assembled under it ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, they might send senators and representatives to Congress, and not before.
To these terms six states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas) submitted, and in June, 1868, they were readmitted to Congress. Their ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment made it a part of the Constitution, and in July, 1868, it was declared in force.
%487. “Tenure of Office Act”; Johnson impeached%—By this time the quarrel between the President and Congress had reached such a crisis that the Republican, leaders feared he would obstruct the execution of the reconstruction law by removing important officials chiefly responsible for its administration, and putting in their places men who would not enforce it. To prevent this, Congress, in 1867, passed the “Tenure of Office Act.” Hitherto a President could remove almost any Federal office holder at pleasure. Henceforth he could only suspend while the Senate examined into the cause of suspension. If it approved, the man was removed; if it disapproved, the man was reinstated. Johnson denied the right of Congress to make such a law, and very soon disobeyed it.
In August, 1867, he asked Secretary of War Stanton to resign, and when the Secretary refused, suspended him and made General Grant temporary Secretary. All this was legal, but when Congress met, and the Senate disapproved of the suspension, General Grant gave the office back again to Stanton. Johnson then appointed General Lorenzo Thomas Secretary of War, and ordered him to seize the office. For this, and for his abusive speeches about Congress, the House of Representatives impeached him, and the Senate tried him “for high crimes and misdemeanors,” but failed by one vote to find him guilty. Stanton then resigned his office.
1. In 1864 the Republican party was split, and one part, taking the name of National Union party, renominated Lincoln. The other or radical wing, which wanted a more vigorous war policy, nominated Fremont and Cochrane. The Democrats declared the war a failure, demanded peace, and nominated McClellan and Pendleton.
2. The gradual conquest of the South brought up the question of the relation to the Federal government of a state which had seceded.
3. Lincoln marked out his own plan of reconstruction in an amnesty proclamation. Congress thought he had no right to do this, and adopted a plan which Lincoln vetoed. His death left the question for Johnson to settle.