Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
reconstruction must not be so conducted “as to give control of the State, and its representation in Congress, to the enemies of the Union....  It must not be so.  You must have it otherwise.  Let the reconstruction be the work of such men only as can be trusted for the Union.  Exclude all others; and trust that your government, so organized, will be recognized here as being the one of republican form to be guaranteed to the State."[57]

At the same time these expressions by no means indicated that the President intended to have, or would connive at, any sham or colorable process.  Accordingly, when some one suggested a plan for setting up as candidates in Louisiana certain Federal officers, who were not citizens of that State, he decisively forbade it, sarcastically remarking to Governor Shepley:  “We do not particularly want members of Congress from there to enable us to get along with legislation here.  What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of Congress, and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them and send them.  To send a parcel of Northern men here as representatives, elected, as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous.”  Again he said that he wished the movement for the election of members of Congress “to be a movement of the people of the district, and not a movement of our military and quasi-military authorities there.  I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance,—­to protect them against secession interference.”  These instructions were designed as genuine rules of action, and were not to be construed away.  Whatever might be said against the theory which the President was endeavoring to establish for state restoration, no opponent of that theory was to be given the privilege of charging that the actual conduct of the proceedings under it was not rigidly honest.  In December, 1862, two members of Congress were elected in Louisiana, and in February, 1863, they were admitted to take seats in the House for the brief remnant of its existence.  This was not done without hesitation, but the fact that it was done at all certainly was in direct line with the President’s plan.  Subsequently, however, other candidates for seats, coming from rehabilitated States, were not so fortunate.

As reorganizations were attempted the promoters generally desired that the fresh start in state life should be made with new state Constitutions.  The conventions chosen to draw these instruments were instructed from Washington that the validity of the Emancipation Proclamation and of all the legislation of Congress concerning slavery must be distinctly admitted, if their work was to receive recognition.  Apart from this, so strenuous were the hints conveyed to these bodies that they would do well to arrange for the speedy abolition of slavery,

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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