BECK index

US Reconstruction & Johnson 1867-68

by Sanderson Beck

Johnson & Republican Reconstruction in 1867
United States & Indian Wars 1867-68
Impeachment & Trial of Johnson in 1868
United States & Johnson in 1868
United States & Elections in 1868

Johnson & Republican Reconstruction in 1867

      On 7 January 1867 the United States Senate listened to President Johnson’s veto message on the bill enfranchising blacks in the District of Columbia, and then they voted to over-ride it 29-10. The next day the US House of Representatives voted 113-38 to make it law. In February the blacks in Washington DC voted for the first time. On January 10 the US Congress extended suffrage to all men in the territories.
      Also on January 7 James Ashley of Ohio supported by Thaddeus Stevens presented an impeachment resolution to the US House of Representatives, saying,

I charge him with a usurpation of power
and violation of law:
In that he has corruptly used the appointing power;
In that he has corruptly used the pardoning power;
In that he has corruptly used the veto power;
In that he has corruptly disposed of public property
of the United States;
In that he has corruptly interfered in elections,
and committed acts which,
in contemplation of the Constitution,
are high crimes and misdemeanors.1

The House that day by a vote of 108-38 referred it to the Judiciary Committee. Congress would receive petitions for Johnson’s removal throughout the year. On January 19 the New York Times reported that the US Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts had said,

The President has usurped
the power of Congress on a colossal scale,
and he has employed those usurped powers
in facilitating a rebel spirit
and awakening anew the dying fires of the rebellion.2

      Johnson had appointed Henry Smythe the collector of the New York Customs House in 1866 after he agreed to pay $5,000 to the US Senators, Johnson’s son-in-law David Patterson of Tennessee, and the loyal James Doolittle. Smythe replaced nearly 400 Republican employees, and he received paybacks from warehouse leases that gave him $40,000 a year. In March a House resolution recommended removing Smythe, but Johnson kept him on to the end of his term.
      On January 28 the US House of Representatives voted to submit two proposals for manhood voting except for former Confederates and to remove the southern governments Johnson had approved. On that day Rep. George W. Julian of Indiana persuaded many that only federal control would enable loyal public opinion to grow with the help of northern capital, labor, and enterprise. The Joint Committee of Congress imposed military rule on the former Confederate states.
      Also on the 28th General Thomas J. Wood testified on law enforcement in Mississippi to a House committee saying,

Taking the whole code of laws of Mississippi,
civil and criminal, including the police laws,
which discriminate between white men and black men,
and taking the condition of public sentiment
with the masses of the people,
although there are some good people disposed to do justice,
I do not think the administration of justice,
as the laws are applied is sufficient
to secure the rights of liberty and property
and the pursuits of peace to the freed people.3

      On January 29 General Ulysses S. Grant advised War Secretary Edwin Stanton to put Texas under martial law. On February 5 the US Congress approved the Habeas Corpus Act that expanded the role of federal courts, and they abolished peonage which had made someone work until a debt was paid.
      The House Judiciary Committee began secret hearings on February 6. The detective Lafayette Baker, who helped catch John Wilkes Booth, testified that Johnson had committed treason, bribery, and prostitution, but he provided no evidence. Baker also said that he thought that the Presidents Harrison and Taylor had been poisoned by their successors. Baker had been in charge of the secret police; but after Johnson learned that he was spying on his Presidency for Stanton, he fired Baker.
      Congress approved the statehood of Nebraska on February 8 on the condition that they change their constitution which had denied the vote to those not white. On March 1 Nebraska became the 37th state. About 28,000 people lived in the Nebraska Territory in 1860, but the Homestead Act of 1862 facilitated growth for about 100,000 by 1867. President Johnson was concerned that two more senators would cause his conviction after impeachment and tried to stop it, but the Congress over-rode his veto.
      On February 12 Rep. John A. Bingham proposed re-admitting southern states after they ratified the 14th Amendment; James G. Blaine suggested they should disenfranchise those who supported the rebellion; and the House of Representatives passed a bill with both measures. Amendments by Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts and Rep. Samuel Shellabarger of Ohio widened disenfranchisement and declared that the state governments in the South were provisional and subject to the authority of the United States. About five of six white men in the South lost their right to vote. Then they passed the military bill. These were combined into the Military Reconstruction Act which passed both houses and declared that ten states which had seceded did not have legal governments. Tennessee had agreed to the 14th Amendment and had been readmitted into the Union.
      General Grant in January had asked Commissioner Oliver Otis Howard to make a list of authenticated murders, but on February 15 Navy Secretary Gideon Welles and President Johnson dismissed the list and hid it from the Congress.
      On March 2 President Johnson vetoed the Military Reconstruction bill. He challenged the view that those states did not have legal governments. He believed that they had the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of a free state, and he complained that it put their people “under the absolute domination of military rulers.” He feared that the military officers would be despotic, and it would be unconstitutional because the citizens would be denied a trial by juries in a lawful court. The Congress over-rode his veto on the same day. Two days later Grant in a letter to Elihu Washburne called it “one of the most ridiculous veto messages that ever emanated from any president.”4 To avoid being impeached Johnson fulfilled his duty to execute the law.
      On that busy March 2 the Congress passed the Army Appropriation Act with an amendment that required the President to channel military orders through the General of the Army who could not be removed without the Senate’s consent. This gave more power to Ulysses Grant.
      The Tenure of Office Act would prevent the President from removing any executive officer who had been confirmed by the Senate, and the Congress passed it over Johnson’s veto on March 2. The Act also defined such illegal removals as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
      Also on March 2 the US Congress repealed excise taxes, and they eliminated tax on income under $1,000 a year. By 1865 excise and income taxes had accounted for 63% of federal revenues. On that busy day Congress also passed An Act to Provide Increased Revenue from Imported Wool that the National Association of Wool Manufacturers wanted.
      Before Congress adjourned on March 3, the House Judiciary Committee had not reported anything on the case against Johnson. Yet they recommended continuing the inquiry. In early June the Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 not to approve the impeachment articles. Radicals on the subcommittee listed 17 charges against Johnson. The radicals elected Benjamin Wade of Ohio as Senate president pro tempore. Because there was no Vice President, if they could remove Johnson, Wade would become President.
      White Congregationalists with Oliver Howard started Howard University near Washington DC open to all blacks of both sexes and all ages, and the US Congress chartered it on March 2. That month the Atlanta Baptist minister William Jefferson White founded for black students the Augusta Institute in Georgia that later became Morehouse College in Atlanta. They offered degrees in education and divinity to prepare teachers and ministers.
      Congress on March 23 passed over the President’s veto again the Second Military Reconstruction Act which authorized the military commanders to remove or suspend anyone holding an office in the “rebel states” and to appoint their replacements. These removals could be reviewed by General of the Army Grant but not by the President.
      On March 26 the ailing and elderly Thaddeus Stevens had a colleague read his long speech for a bill to provide 40 acres of confiscated land to freedmen, and copies of the speech were sent to be read at Union League meetings in the South. On the 27th military rule was imposed on Alabama because the state had failed to ratify the 14th Amendment.
      On March 29 the Pulaski Citizen in Tennessee published an article on the “Invisible Empire of the South” breaking the news that the Ku Klux Klan had formed.
      Jefferson Davis in March was granted $100,000 bail. Most of the money was raised by Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Gerrit Smith, and after two years in prison Davis was released on May 11.
      Secretary of State Seward negotiated a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7.2 million that was signed on March 30 and was approved by the US Senate on April 9. Congress debated the controversial purchase and did not appropriate the funds to pay for it until July 14. Russia officially transferred the 586,412 square miles of territory to the United States on October 18. People who doubted the value of the ice-bound land, which was purchased for about two cents an acre, called the deal “Seward’s Folly.”
      At this time blacks were a majority of the people in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The first post-war legislature in South Carolina had 87 blacks and 40 whites in the lower house while whites controlled the senate. In Louisiana from 1868 to 1896 had 133 black legislators including 38 senators. Blacks were only a little under half in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and about 40% in Virginia and North Carolina; but they were only about a quarter of the population in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The term “carpetbaggers” was used for those who came from the North to join the southern Republicans and in a wider sense included northerners who had come to the South before Reconstruction. Northerners were only about 2% of the population of the eleven former Confederate states. Of the 60 carpetbaggers who were elected to Congress during Reconstruction 52 were veterans of the Union Army, and almost all of these came to the South before 1867.
      A larger group was the white “scalawags” who were born in the South but joined the freedmen in the Republican Party. Many southern Democrats were hostile to the carpetbaggers and the scalawags. The scalawags gained control of the governments in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and North Carolina and exerted much influence in Mississippi. A few wealthy planters joined the Republicans such as Charles Hays in Alabama who had fought for the Confederate Army, the slaveholder G. B. Burnett in northern Georgia, and David L. Russell who was the son of the biggest landowner in North Carolina. The Confederate General James Longstreet also became a Republican, and he brought many Confederate veterans with him. Most of the scalawags had been Whigs and preferred Republicans over Democrats. James L. Alcorn owned the biggest plantation on the Mississippi delta and had begun backing black voting in 1865. More and more blacks turned away from being ruled by scalawags who began leaving the Republican Party. During Reconstruction whites and blacks worked together in the Republican Party to bring about a revolution in the South that gave many blacks a taste of what freedom could be.
      In March at a Republican convention in Charleston, South Carolina free blacks from that city provided the leadership for the most radical program that included internal improvements giving blacks and whites equal shares, integrated schools, banning corporal punishment and imprisonment for debt, and providing help for the aged, the sick, and the poor. This was all paid for by heavy taxes on uncultivated land so that it could be divided and sold to the poor. In July the North Carolina state convention accepted the same policies.
      The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) became vigilantes who targeted politically active carpetbaggers, scalawags, and blacks. In May the Klan elected Nathan Bedford Forrest the Grand Wizard of the Order. Their first big parade wearing long white robes and peaked hats was on July 4. That summer they had a secret conference to get better organized. Some of the groups that joined the KKK were the White Brotherhood, the White League, Pale Faces, Constitutional Guards, Black Cavalry, White Rose, and the ’76 Association. According to the historian James Ford Rhodes their hierarchy included a Grand Dragon for each state, Grant Titans for groups of counties, a Grand Giant for each county, and Grand Cyclops for the dens. Other leaders were called Genii, Hydras, Furies, Goblins, Night Hawks, Magi, Monks, and Turks. The members were Ghouls and wore white sheets to scare people as the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers. By April 1868 attacks were being reported throughout the South. The KKK operated in all 11 of the former Confederate states as well as in Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky.
      The Knights of the White Camelia formed in Franklin, Louisiana on May 22 led by the Confederate Col. Alcibiades DeBlanc. In 1868 they met at New Orleans and established a Constitution and Ritual of the Order that included overt commitment and loyalty to the “superior” white race with “marked distinction” from African races.
      Some scalawags such as Joseph E. Brown of Georgia wanted to get capital from the North to invest in railroads, mining, factories, and cotton mills to improve the southern economy. A large portion of the white Republicans in the South were in East Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina, West Virginia, West Texas, northwest Arkansas, and northern Alabama. On July 4 a convention met in the Georgia mountains and agreed on building railroads, providing free public schools without racial prejudice, and promoting immigration and capital from the North.
      James W. Hunnicutt was a white newspaper editor who supported the Union and fled from Virginia to the North during the Civil War. After the war he returned, and in 1866 he founded the Richmond New Nation. He advocated black suffrage and spoke at the political meetings of blacks. He and his supporters were influential in the first Republican state convention that met outdoors in Richmond in April 1867. About a thousand blacks supported the confiscation of land for distribution in order to help the poor and humble to rise. Virginian moderates organized another convention in Richmond; but when blacks entered the hall, Hunnicutt criticized the moderates for opposing black suffrage and the 14th Amendment. The convention moved outside and agreed to accept the April platform.
      Free blacks and carpetbaggers influenced the Louisiana state convention meeting at New Orleans. They proposed to invite immigrants and capital, to support the 8-hour day for city mechanics, to achieve equality before the law, and to repair the Mississippi River levees for which the legislature would appropriate $4 million.
      At the Republican state convention in Raleigh, North Carolina the whites and black moderates outnumbered the radicals in the debate over confiscation, and they compromised by agreeing to accept the decision of Congress.
      On June 10 Senator Benjamin Wade made a speech in Kansas arguing that with the slavery issue settled they should focus on the issues of capital and labor because property needs to be more equally distributed.
      On June 12 the US Attorney General Stanbery issued judgments that commanders could not remove officials who opposed Congressional Acts, and he allowed former Confederates to vote. On the 20th Johnson sent these as orders to the military commanders, but General Grant directed his commanders to disregard them.
      Thaddeus Stevens criticized the impeachment investigation for being too timid, and in late June he urged them to consider Johnson’s “unlawful usurpation of the conquered territory and his attempt to raise up states therein.”
      Ferdinand V. Hayden was a surgeon in the Civil War and became a geologist who in 1866 led an expedition to the Great Plains sponsored by the Academy of Sciences of Philadelphia. In his letter to the Commissioner of the General Land Office on 1 July 1867 he wrote,

   Large portions of the Upper Missouri country,
especially along the Yellowstone River,
are now covered with the silicified trunks of trees,
sixty to seventy feet in length and two to four feet
in diameter, exhibiting the annual rings of growth
as perfect as in our recent elms or maples.
We are daily obtaining more and more evidence that
these forests may be restored again to a certain extent,
at least, and thus a belt or zone of country about 500 miles
in width east of the base of the mountains be redeemed.
It is believed, also, that the planting of ten or fifteen acres
of forest trees on each quarter section
will have a most important effect on the climate,
equalizing and increasing the moisture
and adding greatly to the fertility of the soil….
   Much might also be said in regard to the influence
of woods in protecting the soil and promoting
the increase in number and the flow of springs,
but all I wish is to show the possibility of the power of man
to restore to these now treeless and almost rainless prairies
the primitive forests and the humidity
which accompanies them.5

      That summer Lyman Abbott reported on the Freedmen’s Bureau to an international anti-slavery convention at Paris that in the two previous years the US Government spent $5,278,000 serving freedmen. In the previous five-years Freedmen’s, Missionary, and Church Associations had contributed over $5.5 million including more than $1 million coming from abroad. The Bureau had 46 hospitals with 5,292 beds and had spent over $2 million treating ex-slaves and 450,000 cases of illness.
      General Grant and War Secretary Stanton worked together with Congress in July to remove President Johnson’s power over commanders on Reconstruction matters. The House Judiciary Committee resumed impeachment hearings, and on July 18 Grant contrasted his compassionate treatment of Lee to Johnson’s desire to punish men for treason. The next day the US Congress passed over Johnson’s veto the Third Reconstruction Act which authorized military governors to dismiss officials and to determine voter eligibility. Then they adjourned and left the heat of Washington in late July.
      The Third Reconstruction Act divided ten Confederate states into five military districts, and the commanders could enforce the law and supervise elections. Johnson appointed the generals John Schofield in Virginia, Daniel Sickles in the Carolinas, John Pope in Georgia, Florida and Alabama, Edward Ord in Mississippi and Arkansas, and Phil Sheridan in Louisiana and Texas. Schofield opposed the 14th Amendment and mostly helped Republicans that he considered “respectable.” Sickles nullified South Carolina’s Black Code by ruling that all laws are to be applied the same to all inhabitants. Pope wanted to help blacks; but after he allowed them to be on juries, Johnson replaced him. Ord was against the Reconstruction Act, and he advised freedmen to work rather than discuss politics. Sheridan ordered blacks on juries and streetcars desegregated, and mayors were to have half their police forces be Union veterans including blacks. On March 27 Sheridan had dismissed the New Orleans mayor, Louisiana’s attorney general, and a district judge for complicity in the riot of July 1866. New constitutions were to be written and had to be approved by a majority of registered voters, and the 14th Amendment had to be ratified for a state to send representatives to Congress.
      Passage of that radical Reconstruction Act inspired black longshoremen in Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Richmond, and New Orleans to go on strike, and it soon spread to other black workers. Many blacks refused to pay taxes to the South Carolina government. Some blacks challenged the discrimination in urban streetcars. Demonstrations against Jim Crow “Star Cars” in New Orleans had persuaded General Sheridan to end racial discrimination on street cars in May.
      Union Leagues formed in the South after the war ended, and now they grew so much that by the end of 1867 most black voters were members. In North Carolina they included white Unionists and Confederate deserters. They educated people on their new political rights, and most blacks joined the Republican Party. Prior to the Reconstruction Acts some blacks had emigrated to Liberia, but now that practically stopped. The Leagues were secret to protect them from the violence of the secret Ku Klux Klan groups that white supremacists formed. During this new era of Reconstruction many blacks paraded on July 4 to celebrate their equal rights.
      On July 30 Grant approved Sheridan’s deposing the Texas governor for having tolerated the violence in the state. Then Sheridan removed most of the New Orleans City Council, the city’s treasurer, and the police chief.
      The US Army had about 28,000 soldiers in the South by July, and 8,700 of them were in Texas. The number of posts were reduced from 207 in January to 101 by September when the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi had a total of only 17 posts.
      On August 1 Johnson asked Grant to replace Stanton as Secretary of War. Grant replied that he opposed removing Stanton but that he would do his duty. Johnson also wanted Grant to transfer General Philip Sheridan away from the military district of Louisiana and Texas because he had tyrannically dismissed the governors of both states, the mayor and the aldermen in New Orleans, and other elected officials. Grant was very partial to Sheridan and Sherman. He wrote a letter citing the Tenure of Office Act that required the Senate’s approval to remove a Cabinet member, and he warned that removing Stanton and Sheridan would divide the country again. When the Congress was not in session, the President could remove an official. On August 5 Johnson wrote to Stanton that his resignation would be accepted, and Stanton responded that he would not resign. Johnson’s letter on the 12th suspended Stanton and made Grant the interim Secretary of War. Five days later Johnson replaced Sheridan with the conservative General Winfield Scott Hancock, and he sent Sheridan to replace Hancock at Fort Leavenworth. On August 17 Grant wrote a letter criticizing these moves.
      Johnson also removed General Daniel Sickles, the commander of the North and South Carolina district. Grant wrote to Johnson that he was defeating the laws of Congress and endangering the country. Johnson summoned him, and Grant withdrew the letter. Johnson also extended the scope of his amnesty and pardons of former Confederates. On August 30 the Missouri Democrat called it the “New Rebellion,” and radical newspapers urged the removal of Johnson. On the 29th Grant had issued Special Orders No. 429 to stop new district commanders from restoring officials their predecessors had deposed. The next day Grant’s August 17 letter opposing Sheridan’s transfer was released to the press which reported that Grant had joined the radical Republicans.
      Also in August the first congress of the National Labor Union met in Baltimore. That month Andrew Cameron who edited the Working Man’s Advocate delivered an address which he concluded saying,

We now extend a cordial invitation
to all to participate in our deliberations.
Come from the North and the South,
from the East and the West;
come from the anvil and the loom;
from the workbench and the forge,
every craft and every trade;
come as the representatives of states’ assemblies
or trades’ unions, singly or in delegations,
all will be equally welcome; come with fraternal greetings,
bearing the olive branch of peace;
come prompted by a common interest
and actuated by a common motive;
come forgetting the past and its issues,
ignoring alike the appeals and denunciations of partisanship;
come realizing the importance of the crisis
and the necessity of decided action;
come as lovers of a common country,
and help by your counsels and deliberations
to hasten that glorious time,

   When man to man the world o’er
   Shall brothers be and a’ that.

   When worth, not wealth, shall rule mankind;
when tyranny and oppression of every character
shall be uprooted and destroyed;
and when the laborers of America, intelligent, united,
and disenthralled, shall occupy that proud position which
God in His kind providence intended they should occupy—
a position they never can aspire to until the evils complained of are redressed by and through their own exertions.
Finally, brethren, come one and all and help to marshal
those mighty forces of labor which,
when disciplined, will march to certain victory.6

      On August 28 the US Navy Captain William Reynolds claimed the Midway Islands in the North Pacific Ocean for the United States, but settlement would not begin until 1870.
      On September 16 in Helena, Montana some whites burned to death “Chinese Mary” to get her gold. In 1867 the US Congress invalidated all the legislation of two of the Montana Territory’s sessions.
      On October 17 Albion Tourgée as a candidate for the North Carolina constitutional convention published his principles. Here are the first seven of the ten:

1. Equality of civil and political rights to all citizens.
2. No property qualifications for jurymen.
3. Every voter eligible for election
to any office of trust or emolument.
4. All legislative, executive, and judicial officers of the state
to be filled by the vote of the people.
5. A criminal code humane and Christian,
without whip or stocks.
6. An ample system of public instruction reaching from
the lowest primary school to the highest university course,
free to the children of every citizen.
7. A uniform ad valorem system of taxation upon property.7

      In local elections that fall Democrats made gains in the North and Midwest especially in New York and California. They gained control of the Ohio legislature and would later replace the radical Ben Wade in the US Senate. Voters in Ohio and Minnesota rejected referenda on black suffrage. Kansas held two referenda on votes for Negroes and women; but despite the efforts of Lucy Stone, Mrs. Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, both were defeated. Influenced by the changed position of Horace Greeley, the New York constitutional convention chose not to allow voting on a woman suffrage amendment even though 28,000 signatures were presented. In the South the newly enfranchised blacks turned out in large numbers being nearly 90% of the voters in Virginia and about 70% in Georgia.
      Oliver Kelley traveled in the south for the Bureau of Agriculture. In November he mailed 300 copies of a proposal for an agricultural society, and on December 4 he and others in Washington organized the National Grange of the Patrons of Animal Husbandry to teach farmers better techniques, and local chapters formed granges. The movement expanded rapidly, and by 1874 they had about 800,000 members.
      On November 25 the House Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 for the impeachment of Johnson, but on December 7 the House of Representatives voted 57-108 defeating the impeachment resolution.
      In Johnson’s annual message to Congress on December 3 he said,

Negroes have shown less capacity for government
than any other race of people.
No independent government of any form
has ever been successful in their hands.
On the contrary, wherever they have been left
to their own devices they have shown
a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism.8

He warned that blacks voting would lead to “a tyranny such as this continent has never yet witnessed.”9 During 1867 over 700,000 blacks had become registered voters in the South. South Carolina had 78,982 blacks registered and 46,346 whites. Mississippi registered 60,167 Negroes and 46,636 whites. Johnson in December replaced General Pope with General Meade in the Georgia-Alabama-Florida district and General Ord with the President’s friend Alvan C. Gillem in Mississippi and Arkansas.
      In 1867 George Peabody started the Peabody Education Fund with $3.5 million to promote education for destitute children in the South.
      Three abolitionists published Negro spirituals as Slave Songs of the United States. William Wells Brown wrote The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and His Fidelity.

United States & Indian Wars 1867-68

      Settlers in the far west called the Northern Paiute, Bannock, and Western Shoshone tribes “Snakes.” General George Crook led the US Army against them about 50 times during the Snake War in southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho from December 1866 until they met at Fort Harney on 1 July 1868. Crook explained that his dead soldiers could be replaced quickly, and thus the US Army could kill the Snakes’ warriors before young braves grew up. This persuaded the Snakes to stay near Fort Harney where they received their rations.
      In January 1867 Senator James Doolittle’s committee published a report based on nearly two-years’ work which concluded that “lawless whites” were interfering in native hunting lands, and the committee advised removing tribes to isolated reservations where they could farm away from the routes of the settlers. General Sherman in a letter to General Grant on January 15 proposed separate districts for whites and Indians with the Sioux north of the Platte, west of the Missouri River, and east of the road to Montana. Other tribes including the Cheyenne and Arapaho would have other districts. Sherman wrote,

This would leave for our people exclusively
the use of the wide belt, east and west,
between the Platte and the Arkansas,
in which lie the two great railroads and over which
passes the bulk of travel to the mountain territories.10

He warned that if Indians hunted in the white area, there would be the danger of more conflicts and troubles. Grant endorsed the plan and gave it to the War Department advising that the Pacific Railroad needed to be protected. He also advised that the Indian Bureau be transferred to the War Department so that traders would not be licensed, and so that the army could keep weapons and ammunition away from the Indians.
      On February 1 Grant warned Johnson and his cabinet,

If the present practice is to be continued, I do not see that
any course is left open to us but to withdraw our troops
to the settlements, and call upon Congress to provide
the means and troops to carry on formidable hostilities
against the Indians until all the Indians or all the whites
upon the Great Plains and between the settlements
on the Missouri and the Pacific slope are exterminated.11

Sherman wrote to Grant that either they or the Indians must be masters on the Plains. President Johnson in February approved a commission to find a peaceful way to end the war with Red Cloud, and he told General Sherman to be patient. On March 2 Grant ordered Sherman to prepare for abandoning the forts Phil Kearny, Reno, and Fetterman, and Grant explained to Stanton that this area was more important to the Indians than to the whites.
      General Winfield Scott Hancock commanded the Missouri Department that included Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. He invited Cheyenne chiefs to a conference on April 7, but few came. General George Armstrong Custer in the Smoky Hill area found that most of the stage stations had been burned or abandoned. Two men told him they thought it was Pawnee Fork bands. Custer sent a dispatch to Hancock, who went against the advice of the Cheyenne agent Major Edward Wynkoop and his officers and ordered their villages burned. Custer discovered that his information was wrong and sent another dispatch. Wynkoop reported to the Indian Department that the Pawnee Fork bands had been punished unjustly. Hancock marched soldiers to a Cheyenne and Sioux village, and the chiefs fled. He assumed a war had begun, and he sent Custer with the 7th Cavalry to pursue them in Kansas where the Indians raided. Hancock went to Fort Dodge to meet Kiowa chiefs. The young and peaceful Kicking Bird was vying with the aggressive Satanta to be the new chief. After the meeting with Kicking Bird on April 23 Satanta arrived six days later and persuaded Hancock to accept him, and the general proved it by giving Satanta a major general’s blue coat. As a result of these errors some Oglala and militant Cheyenne (Dog Soldiers) in this area became hostile and attacked stage coaches and killed at least a hundred settlers. On June 17 the generals Sherman and Custer met, but the latter disobeyed the commander’s orders, causing confusion. Lt. Lyman Kidder with ten men and a Lakota scout went looking for Custer, and they were all killed by Oglala hunters and Dog Soldiers on July 2 in Kansas.
      On July 20 President Johnson signed the Henderson Bill for a peace commission to negotiate with the Plains Indians. General Sherman advised General Grant that the Hancock expedition had failed and that commissions could not meet with fighting Indians. In September the commissioners traveled up the Missouri River, but because of low water they met only with friendly Northern Cheyenne and Brulé Lakota Chief Spotted Tail, warning them not to interfere with the Union Pacific Railroad. The commissioners moved on to Nebraska.
      Red Cloud and the 36-year-old Sitting Bull in the spring had become the main war chiefs of the Oglala Lakotas. Red Cloud did not want soldiers and settlers traveling through their land on the Bozeman Trail, and he demanded that military garrisons be removed from Fort Phil Kearny and Fort C. F. Smith. After their annual sun dance in July about 650 Cheyenne and Lakota resumed fighting on August 1 against hay-cutters near Fort C. F. Smith in Montana, and at least 20 Indians and 3 whites were killed. The next day a thousand Lakota Sioux fought wood-cutters near Fort Phil Kearny in the Wyoming Territory, and each side suffered a dozen or more casualties. On August 4 the Cheyenne fought against Union Pacific Railroad workers in Nebraska. Some chiefs ended hostilities by accepting gifts and going home.
      The US Peace Commissioners found that over 2,500 Indians had gathered near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, and on October 19 Senator John B. Henderson offered to give them homes on good farm land, but Satanta replied that would make their land smaller. Commissioner Taylor explained that with the buffalo depleted they would have to farm. The Comanches and Kiowas were given 2.9 million acres in the Indian Territory, and 19 chiefs put an X on the document. The Cheyenne arrived on October 27, and the next day Henderson said the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation would be 4.3 million acres in the Indian Territory. Two more treaties were signed, but Henderson left off the written treaty the promise that they would be allowed to hunt off the reservation. When promised rations did not arrive in February 1868, the Kiowas and Comanches raided Texas. The Cheyenne attacked settlements along the Saline and Solomon rivers in Kansas.
      The Oglala Sioux Chief Red Cloud demanded that the three forts on the Bozeman Trail be abandoned. The Sioux and Arapaho chiefs negotiated with US commissioners an extensive treaty which created the Great Sioux Reservation covering the western half of what became South Dakota, and the treaty was signed at Fort Laramie on 29 April 1868. Red Cloud informed US commissioners that he would go to Fort Laramie to discuss peace, and he sent this message:

The Great Father sent his soldiers out here to spill blood.
I did not first commence the spilling of blood….
If the Great Father kept white men out of my country,
peace would last forever,
but if they disturb me, there will be no peace….
The Great Spirit raised me in this land,
and has raised you in another land.
What I have said I mean. I mean to keep this land.12

The soldiers evacuated Fort C. F. Smith on July 29 and then Fort Phil Kearny and Fort Reno on August 1. The Cheyenne burned Fort Phil Kearny, and the Lakota destroyed Fort C. F. Smith. By November 6 the treaty had been signed by General Sherman, 156 Sioux, 25 Arapaho and 34 witnesses. The US Senate finally ratified this second Fort Laramie treaty on 16 February 1869.
      After Colorado’s Gov. Frank Hall reported that 79 settlers had been killed, General Philip Sheridan replaced Hancock in August 1868. He learned in September that over 2,000 Indians in the West from Texas to Kansas had gone on the warpath and had killed 147 American settlers and abducted 426 women and children, destroying 24 ranches, massacring 4 wagon trains, and attacking 11 stagecoaches. Sheridan sent Major George A. Forsyth with 50 cavalry, and on September 17-19 at the Arikara Fork of the Republican River they defeated the Northern Cheyenne and killed chief Woqini (Hook Nose). Then Oglala Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho allies besieged the soldiers on that island for eight days until the 10th Cavalry rescued them on September 25.
      On November 22 General Sheridan sent General Custer with 574 men of the 7th Cavalry to attack a camp of about 250 Arapaho and Cheyenne led by Chief Black Kettle with 150 warriors at Washita River in the Indian Territory. Black Kettle had signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty on 28 October 1867; he tried to negotiate with Custer but was shot dead. At Washita River on November 27 Custer’s 7th Cavalry slaughtered about a hundred men and 75 women and children while they lost 21 soldiers killed with 13 wounded.
      On the 23 November 1868 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs had issued a 380-page report. Indians were to be restricted to districts and encouraged to work in agriculture and manufacturing. In addition to that Sioux reservation the other large reservation was the Indian Territory, which later became Oklahoma, for the “civilized” nations that were removed from the South as well as for the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche in the Plains. Indian children were required to attend schools and learn English. Women were taught how to sew, weave, and knit, and polygamy was to be punished. The US Government was to provide food, clothing, and other supplies during the transition, and the three military bases on the tribal lands would be destroyed. General William T. Sherman wrote to his brother, Senator John Sherman of Ohio, “The more (Indians) we can kill this year, the less we will have to kill next year.”13

      On 1 June 1868 the Navaho Wars ended as they agreed to live on the Bosque Redondo Reservation near Fort Sumner in the New Mexico Territory. The US Senate ratified the treaty on June 24, and President Johnson proclaimed it on August 12. Although the reservation included 3.5 million acres, excluded were the best land for farming and grazing and their four sacred mountains. Even after it was quadrupled to 25,000 square miles, only about 68,000 acres could be used for farmland. In the next five years under the military the Navajo population of 10,000 decreased by 2,000 while the number of sheep diminished from 200,000 to 940.
      On 2 March 1868 the Utes had made a treaty with the Indian Affairs Commissioner Nathaniel Taylor of the United States, Gov. Alexander C. Hunt of Colorado, Kit Carson representing the US, and the representatives of the Tabaquache, Muache, Capote, Weeminuche, Yampa, Grand River, and Uintah bands of the Utes that granted them a reservation of 16 million acres from the western Rockies in Colorado west to the Utah border with hunting rights in North and Middle Parks. For the next fiscal year ending in mid-1869 only $5,000 was appropriated for the Uintah Agency even though the Indian agent Pardon Dodds said that more than $20,000 was needed.

Impeachment & Trial of Johnson in 1868

      On 7 December 1867 the House of Representatives voted 106-57 to reject Ashley’s resolution to impeach Johnson. On 13 January 1868 the US Senate refused to agree to Johnson’s removal of Stanton as Secretary of War and voted 36-6 to restore his office, and Republicans persuaded Stanton to “stick” to his job. The next day Grant left the War Department, and Stanton returned to his office. President Johnson felt betrayed by Grant. On February 10 Thaddeus Stevens persuaded the House of Representatives to transfer the impeachment records to the Reconstruction Committee, and three days later he presented a new impeachment resolution with a report on the Tenure of Office violation.
      On February 21 Johnson dismissed Stanton and replaced him with Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas. Stanton ordered Grant to arrest Thomas, but he refused. Johnson informed the Senate that Thomas had replaced Stanton. After a 7-hour secret debate the Senate voted 35-6 that the President did not have the power to replace the Secretary of War. The next morning before breakfast a US Marshal arrested Thomas for violating the Tenure Act. Judge Harley Cartter set bail at $5,000, and two merchants posted it for Thomas. He and Stanton confronted each other in Stanton’s office, and then at a neutral office they shared drinks. Stanton barricaded himself in his office while Thomas attended Johnson’s Cabinet meetings as the interim War Secretary. The New York Herald reported that violence against Stanton could bring 100,000 veterans to Washington to restore Stanton. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was the prominent veterans’ organization, and they promised to defend the Congress. Stanton opposed the use of force and dismissed the 125 GAR veterans assigned to guard him. The Reconstruction Committee met at the home of Thaddeus Stevens and voted for impeachment, and George Boutwell drafted an impeachment resolution.
      On February 24 the House of Representatives by a strictly party line voted 126-47 to impeach President Johnson. There would be 13 articles mostly on removing Stanton, but also for trying to give orders to General Thomas without Grant’s approval, denying the authority of Congress, and trying to bring it “into disgrace.” The sub-committee’s first witness on the 26th was Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas. Stanton’s lawyer Cartter told them that they wanted to stop the prosecution of Thomas, and the case was dismissed. On February 29 Boutwell presented ten impeachment articles in the House of Representatives. The elderly Stevens closed the debate on March 2 saying, “Never was a great malefactor so gently treated as Andrew Johnson.”14 Benjamin Butler accused Johnson of bringing the Congress and Presidency “into contempt, ridicule, and disgrace,” but the House rejected that as an article and approved nine articles by March 3.
      Chief Justice Salmon Chase, who wanted to run for President, presided over the trial of Andrew Johnson by the US Senate that began on March 5. The radical Senator pro tempore Ben Wade, who would become President if the Senate convicted Johnson, might then become the next Republican candidate for President. Senators, who did not want Wade to be President, were inclined to vote for Johnson’s acquittal. For conviction they needed the votes of 36 of the 54 Senators. With only 9 Democrats and 3 Republicans who regularly supported Johnson, 7 more Republicans would be needed for acquittal.
      The leading House managers prosecuting the case were Benjamin Butler, John A. Bingham, Stevens, and George Boutwell, and the best lawyers in defense were the Attorney General Stanbery, the former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis, the Democrat Jeremiah Black, and the Republican William Evarts. After a 3-hour debate on whether Ben Wade should be allowed to vote because a conviction would make him President, the Senate decided that they are a political body, and he could not be disqualified.
      The President’s team raised money to pay the lawyers and bribe the senators voting. Edmund Cooper of Tennessee was involved with three of those groups. He had worked as Johnson’s secretary in the White House. Then he was in Congress, but he lost after 5,000 blacks registered to vote in his district. Cooper came back to the White House and worked with Post Office special agent James Legate, Perry Fuller, and Willis Gaylord who was related to Senator Pomeroy of Kansas. Cooper said that for $40,000 Pomeroy and four other senators would vote to acquit Johnson. Pomeroy would be the model for Mark Twain’s character Senator Dilworthy in The Gilded Age. The printer Cornelius Wendell had been exposed for graft when Johnson named him to be Superintendent of Public Printing in 1860. He estimated they needed $150,000 to get Johnson off, and he got Postmaster General Randall and Treasury Secretary McCulloch to raise money. Johnson read over Addison’s play Cato which had inspired other American patriots such as George Washington. Johnson said, “This American Senate is as corrupt as was the Roman Senate.”15
      On March 30 Butler began the prosecution by reading his opening statement for three hours. He emphasized the Stanton-Thomas conflict and the Tenure of Office Act rather than the more general Article XI that Stevens had written. After five days the prosecution completed their case on a Saturday. Senator Grimes of Iowa hoped that Johnson would appoint a Secretary of War who was politically acceptable. In presenting the defense’s opening statement Justice Curtis spoke for three hours on April 9 and for one more hour the next day. He argued that Johnson had constitutional authority for firing Stanton, and that he did not violate the Tenure of Office Act. The galleries were crowded to hear the testimony of General Thomas, and the popular General Sherman testified three times. Stanbery came down with pleurisy and had to withdraw from the trial. The Ku Klux Klan sent threatening letters in red ink to the House managers Stevens, Bingham, and Logan of Illinois. Butler also received several threats. Evarts questioned Navy Secretary Welles who was very loyal to Johnson, and Evarts concluded the defense case on April 18.
      A Whiskey Ring led by the Kentucky lawyer Charles Woolley also worked on bribing senators for the defense. Johnson’s lawyers argued that the Tenure of Office Act did not apply to Stanton because he was not appointed by Johnson but by President Lincoln. Several moderate Republican Senators were favoring Johnson because the Reconstruction Acts were being implemented with the conventions and elections in the South. Johnson let it be known through William Evarts, who was prosecuting Jefferson Davis, that if Johnson was acquitted, he would stop obstructing the Republicans in the South. Grimes suggested that Johnson appoint General Schofield as War Secretary. He was the only military commander of a southern district that Johnson had not replaced. Grant said he would accept Schofield; but he advised Schofield not to take the position, and he declined it on April 25.
      Closing arguments began on April 22. Senators Grimes, Fessenden, and Trumbull were leaning toward acquittal. Thurlow Weed appealed to Seward’s allies for money and found General Alonzo Adams who had told Smythe that for $30,000 he could get three more votes for acquittal. If Johnson was acquitted, the fund was also going to give him $50,000. The defense was trying to win over John Henderson of Missouri; but Grant told him that Johnson should be removed because he is a liar.
      On May 11 the senators began explaining their votes in executive session; but after speaking each one went out and answered questions from reporters and the managers. Henderson said he would vote against the first eight articles. Because of an ill senator the voting was put off to May 16. When Kansas Senator Jim Lane learned of evidence exposing his business corruption with Fuller that he had denied, he had killed himself in July 1866. The Kansas governor considered filling the seat with the printer, Republican Edmund G. Ross, who had never held a public office. Fuller used $40,000 for bribes to get Ross appointed for the last four years of the term and as well as a full term for Pomeroy. Seven southern states had fulfilled the requirements of Reconstruction and had elected 14 senators who were ready to take their seats. Pomeroy told Republicans that Ross would vote to convict; but Ross provided the 19th vote that exonerated Johnson who within a few weeks provided patronage positions for friends of Ross. The Senate adjourned for ten days because of the Republican convention. On May 26 three votes on additional articles also failed to convict, and the trial was adjourned.

United States & Johnson in 1868

      The Reconstruction Acts called for ten state constitutional conventions, and all but two of these met between 5 November 1867 (Alabama) and 20 January 1868 (Florida). Virginia elected delegates to a convention on 22 October 1867 and met in Richmond from December 3 to 17 April 1868. The Texas convention met on 1 June 1868 and produced the last constitution in February 1869. After each convention elections were held to vote on ratification and then on new governments. State officials from the Confederate era were excluded, and that enabled southern white Unionists (scalawags), Republicans from the North (carpetbaggers), free blacks, and freedmen to become most of the delegates at the conventions. Most southern conservatives boycotted the elections that selected the delegates. The Reconstruction Acts required a majority of registered voters for ratification of the new constitutions, and whites could defeat them by intimidating voters. Southern Unionists were the largest group of delegates, and about one-sixth were carpetbaggers who were lawyers and professionals. Union Army veterans provided leadership with southern Unionists and free blacks. Most delegates wanted to create a nobler civilization that would endure.
      In Virginia 105,000 freemen and 120,000 whites registered to vote for delegates. Of the thousand or so delegates who were elected, 265 were black, and of those 107 had been born as slaves; 40 or more had fought for the Union Army, and 28 were not from the South. In South Carolina and Louisiana black delegates outnumbered the whites, and their free blacks provided useful experience. Blacks were almost 40% of the delegates in Florida, about 20% in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia, and 10% in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas. Georgia’s 22 black delegates included 17 ministers, and a third of Virginia’s blacks had gained their freedom before 1860. In South Carolina many blacks refused to sign labor contracts for 1868 because they were hoping to be given land.
      Moderate Republicans predominated in Georgia and Florida. Most of the conventions abolished property qualifications and residency requirements for voting. They also established free public education, and blacks often supported a poll tax to pay for that. South Carolina and Texas made attending school compulsory. Schools were not going to be racially integrated, but not one constitution required separate schools. Many constitutions provided for penitentiaries, asylums for orphans and the insane, and some for relieving the poor. Every constitution guaranteed equal civil and political rights for blacks. Most constitutions banned whipping, voice voting, and imprisonment for debt. Florida allowed Seminoles to elect two representatives. Fewer crimes were capital offenses. All but one constitution recognized a wife’s property rights in order to protect husbands from creditors. South Carolina legalized divorce. Interracial marriage was a controversial topic, and blacks noted that many planters had children by female slaves. Equal access to public accommodations was a mixed issue as many whites resisted social equality. The constitutions mandated the election of judges.
      Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina ended the disenfranchisement of Confederates while it was greatly reduced in Texas and South Carolina. The 14th Amendment when ratified in July 1868 would protect civil and political equality. Virginia rejected ratification in January 1867, and Mississippi and Texas did not ratify the amendment until 1870. Alabama authorized a Bureau of Industrial Resources to promote economic development, and North Carolina mandated $2 million for railroads. Georgia’s convention in Atlanta decided to make that city their capital. Every state except Louisiana allowed a homestead tax exemption between $1,500 and $5,000. Blacks were for lower exemptions so that large landowners would give up some of their land. Most of the constitutions called for a general property tax. Texas with much public land offered free homesteads to settlers, and Mississippi could sell land that was repossessed for taxes in tracts up to 160 acres. Louisiana limited lots to 50 acres but not how many a person could buy.
      Moderates in Florida nominated for governor the carpetbagger Harrison Reed who supported Johnson and promised white rule and economic growth. General Schofield opposed Virginia’s disenfranchisement, and fearing radical government he would not approve a ratification referendum. In the first political elections in the winter and spring of 1868 blacks were on the ticket only in South Carolina and Louisiana. In North Carolina more than 20,000 white voters approved ratification, and they elected a Republican majority in the legislature. Voters in Alabama and Mississippi rejected the new constitutions, and Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas were too late to participate in the 1868 elections.

      On 11 March 1868 the US Congress passed the Fourth Reconstruction Act which required new state constitutions to be ratified by a majority of registered voters in order for those states to be readmitted into the United States.
      George W. Ashburn was born in the South in 1814, but he opposed Georgia’s secession and became a colonel in the Union Army. After the Civil War the military Gov. George G. Meade appointed him a judge in Columbus, Georgia. Ashburn presided over the Georgia Constitutional Convention in 1867 at Atlanta that removed restrictions on the rights of Negroes. He worked with black leaders in the Freedmen’s Bureau, and his neighbors called him a “scalawag.” Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forest visited Columbus on 21 March 1868. Former Confederate General Henry Benning testified that Ashburn had left his wife and taken up with a black woman in Columbus. Ashburn attended a meeting of blacks and Republicans on March 30, and after midnight five masked men murdered him at his home, perhaps the first Klan murder in Georgia.
      Georgia in May leased 100 black prisoners to the Alabama and Georgia Railroad for $2,500. Later in the year Georgia sold 134 convicts to the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad and 109 other prisoners to work on constructing tracks from Macon to Brunswick. Mississippi sent 241 convicts to Edmund Richardson who owned the largest cotton plantation in the state, and three years later they were transferred to the Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.
      On May 30 the Memorial holiday to remember the Civil War dead was celebrated for the first time as “Decoration Day.”
      In June a Congressional Committee on Lawlessness and Violence reported that 373 freed slaves had been killed in the previous two years, and freedmen had killed ten whites; but many people believed that the Ku Klux Klan had already killed thousands of blacks and white radicals.
      The Congress overcame Johnson’s vetoes to readmit Arkansas on June 22, and on the 25th with the Omnibus Act they restored the delegations of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Also on June 25 the US Congress cut back many operations of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and they mandated the eight-hour day for government employees. In private businesses most laborers still worked 10 or 12 hours per day.
      On July 20 the US Secretary of State William Seward certified that 28 states, being more than three-quarters of all 37 states, by voting approval, had ratified the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution granting every person due process and equal protection of the laws. The US Senate rejected woman suffrage in the District of Columbia by a vote of 37-9.
      On July 25 President Johnson signed the Organic Act that established the Territory of Wyoming from parts of previous Dakota and Utah territories.
      On July 28 Secretary of State Seward and the US minister Anson Burlingame, who led the diplomats from China, revised the Tianjin Treaty by removing any restrictions on Chinese immigration into the United States and by granting the most-favored nation trading status.
      Congress passed a bill over the President’s veto on July 28 that reorganized Reconstruction and removed the Freedmen’s Bureau from states which were readmitted into the Union. In 1868 this would include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and the two Carolinas. The Bureau had helped 130,735 students sign up for classes. During Johnson’s presidency he vetoed 29 bills, and the Congress over-rode 15 of them.
      President Johnson in early December every year sent a long message to the US Congress, and his fourth and last message on December 9 was no exception. Usually they were read aloud to the House of Representatives and the Senate, but this time radical Republicans were so upset by his rhetoric against them that they stopped the reading after a few paragraphs and voted to adjourn. Near the beginning of the message Johnson wrote,

   It may be safely assumed as an axiom in the government
of states that the greatest wrongs inflicted upon a people
are caused by unjust and arbitrary legislation,
or by the unrelenting decrees of despotic rulers,
and that the timely revocation of injurious
and oppressive measures is the greatest good
that can be conferred upon a nation.
The legislator or ruler who has the wisdom
and magnanimity to retrace his steps
when convinced of error will sooner or later
be rewarded with the respect and gratitude
of an intelligent and patriotic people.
   Our own history, although embracing a period
less than a century, affords abundant proof that
most, if not all, of our domestic troubles
are directly traceable to violations
of the organic law and excessive legislation.
The most striking illustrations of this fact are furnished
by the enactments of the past three years
upon the question of reconstruction.
After a fair trial they have substantially failed
and proved pernicious in their results,
and there seems to be no good reason
why they should longer remain upon the statute book.
States to which the Constitution guarantees
a republican form of government have been reduced
to military dependencies in each of which
the people have been made subject
to the arbitrary will of the commanding general.
Although the Constitution requires that each State
shall be represented in Congress,
Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas are yet excluded
from the two Houses, and, contrary to
the express provisions of that instrument
were denied participation in the recent election
for a President and Vice-President of the United States.
The attempt to place the white population
under the domination of persons of color in the South
has impaired, if not destroyed, the kindly relations
that had previously existed between them:
and mutual distrust has engendered a feeling of animosity
which leading in some instances to collision and bloodshed,
has prevented that cooperation between the two races
so essential to the success of industrial enterprise
in the Southern States.
Nor have the inhabitants of those States alone suffered
from the disturbed condition of affairs
growing out of these Congressional enactments.
The entire Union has been agitated
by grave apprehensions of troubles which might again
involve the peace of the nation;
its interests have been injuriously affected
by the derangement of business and labor,
and the consequent want of prosperity
throughout that portion of the country….
   Congress has already been made familiar with my views
respecting the “tenure-of-office bill.”
Experience has proved that its repeal
is demanded by the best interests of the country,
and that while it remains in force the President
can not enjoin that rigid accountability of public officers
so essential to an honest and efficient execution of the laws.
Its revocation would enable the executive department
to exercise the power of appointment and removal
in accordance with the original design
of the Federal Constitution. 16

Johnson concluded,

   I renew the recommendation contained
in my communication to Congress dated the 18th July last—
a copy of which accompanies this message
that the judgment of the people should be taken
on the propriety of so amending the Federal Constitution
that it shall provide—
   First. For an election of President and Vice-President
by a direct vote of the people,
instead of through the agency of electors,
and making them ineligible for reelection to a second term.
   Second. For a distinct designation of the person
who shall discharge the duties of President in the event of
a vacancy in that office by the death, resignation,
or removal of both the President and Vice-President.
   Third. For the election of Senators of the United States
directly by the people of the several States,
instead of by the legislatures; and
   Fourth. For the limitation to a period of years
of the terms of Federal judges….
   Let us earnestly hope that … an all-wise Providence
will so guide our counsels as to strengthen and preserve
the Federal Unions, inspire reverence for the Constitution,
restore prosperity and happiness to our whole people,
and promote “on earth peace, good will toward men.”17

The House allowed the entire message to be read, and some members tried but failed to block its official printing.
      In this message Johnson also advised restricting governmental spending which he accused of favoring the wealthy over the common man. He repeated his prophetic calls for the direct election by the people of the President and Vice President instead of by the electoral college and of US Senators instead of by the state legislatures and for a limit on the terms of federal judges including the Supreme Court.

      Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Nevada allowed Negroes to vote, but Missouri and Michigan defeated black suffrage.
      Gynecological surgeons in the US began doing clitoridectomies to suppress the sexual desire of women. New York City had an estimated 20,000 prostitutes. The police commissioners knew of at least 600 brothels and thousands more who made illicit dates. During the Civil War women who followed the army of General Joe Hooker were called “hookers.” Many women from the South came to New York City as conditions in the South deteriorated. The entire nation had about 250,000 prostitutes who were paid by ten times that many men.

United States & Elections in 1868

      In early February 1868 the New York Republican Convention endorsed Ulysses S. Grant for president. On March 11 Samuel J. Tilden speaking as the leader of the Democratic Party in New York said,

A complete and harmonious restoration
of the revolted states would have been effected
if the Republican Party had not proved to be
totally incapable of acting in the case
with any large, wise, or firm statesmanship….
   All that was necessary
to heal the bleeding wounds of the country
and to allow its languishing industries to revive,
was that the Republican Party—
which boasts its great moral ideas and its philanthropy—
should rise to the moral elevation of an ordinary pugilist,
and cease to strike its adversary after it was down.18

He claimed that 3 million Negroes electing 20 senators and 50 representatives would have twice as much power in the US Senate as 13.5 million whites in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois who had only 10 senators.
      The Republicans returned to using their original name for the 1868 party convention at Crosby’s Opera House in Chicago where 8,000 people gathered on May 20 and 21. Senator Benjamin Wade withdrew before the convention started as did Chief Justice Salmon Chase who decided to run for the Democratic nomination. Carl Schurz gave the keynote address. The 650 delegates at the convention unanimously nominated Ulysses S. Grant on the first ballot. The contenders for Vice President on the first four ballots were Senator Benjamin Wade, House Speaker Schuyler Colfax of Indiana, New York Governor Reuben E. Fenton, and Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts. Schurz advised delegates,

If Ben Wade is put behind General Grant,
there is not a Life Insurance Company in the world,
that will not at once want to take a premium
on the life of General Grant.19

On the 5th ballot Colfax pulled ahead of Wade 226-207, and then most delegates shifted their votes to him giving him 541 and the nomination. Grant accepted the nomination by telegram, concluding his message with “Let us have peace.” The Republican Party platform advocated black voting for public safety as well as justice.
      Governor Benjamin Humphreys of Mississippi had been elected in October 1865. He was re-elected in 1868 when Democrats also elected four of the five Congressmen; but the military commander removed Humphreys on June 15, and the US Congress would not seat any of the five.
      The Democratic National Convention was held at Tammany Hall in New York City from July 4 to July 9. The recent Governor of New York, Horatio Seymour presided. The Democrats had 17 candidates named on ballots with 12 that got more than 10 votes. On the first ballot George H. Pendleton of Ohio led with 105 votes, and President Andrew Johnson got 65 followed by General Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania with 33.5. Pendleton’s lead began fading after the 15th ballot, and Johnson never got more than 10 votes after the 7th ballot. On the 21st ballot Hancock got 135.5 votes, and Senator Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana had 132. On the next ballot General McCook proposed Horatio Seymour, who got his first votes (22), and then all 317 delegates shifted their votes to nominate him for President. Seymour had declined to run, but he accepted the nomination. The Democrats nominated Rep. Francis Preston Blair, Jr. of Missouri for Vice President. Blair opposed black suffrage and made speeches calling for the restoration of white people to replace the new governments in the South that were led by “a semi-barbarous race of blacks.” The Democrats’ platform declared the four Reconstruction Acts “unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void,” and they proposed “the abolition of the Freedman’s Bureau and all political instrumentalities designed to secure negro supremacy.”20
      Republicans would accuse Seymour of having opposed the last war and Blair of wanting to start a new one. New York’s Democratic Party chairman Samuel Tilden and Cyrus McCormick gave $10,000 each. Northern capitalists were united and supported Republican candidates with funds, and the powerful Tammany lawyer Edwards Pierrepont donated $20,000 to Grant’s campaign and made speeches for him.
      Grant let the former Brigadier General John Rawlins manage his campaign from Washington while the candidate spent most of his time home at Galena, Illinois except when he visited the 280 acres near St. Louis that his wife Julia Dent had inherited. With General Sherman he traveled west to Kansas and Denver where he excoriated the “three epidemics” of the West—pistols, bowie knives, and whiskey. Republican politicians wrote letters and gave speeches for their candidate, and James H. Wilson and Charles A. Dana published campaign biographies that praised Grant. Northern businessmen financed the campaign with large donations from Jay Cooke and others.
      The House Committee on Elections reported that in the election 1,081 blacks and white Unionists had been killed in Louisiana, and as many were wounded. Also killed were over 600 in Kentucky and dozens in South Carolina. The Freedman’s Bureau found that 31 were murdered in Georgia between August and November. The Ku Klux Klan declared they had assassinated Republican politicians in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina. A former Texas governor in May estimated that 250 Union men had been killed in the last six months. Whites and blacks formed militias in Brazos County, and 25 freedmen lost their lives in one battle, and many blacks and Unionists fled. The Ku Klux Klan attacked black and white Republicans, and Nathan Bedford Forrest claimed that the KKK had a half million men in the South.
      That summer newly elected legislatures in Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee asked for additional federal troops to quell the violence; but Secretary of War Schofield refused to send any without an order from President Johnson. The US Attorney General Evarts told the commanders that the civil authorities were to maintain order instead of federal forces.
      Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Georgia legislature expelled the 33 newly elected black members in September. Philip Joiner had been expelled, and he led a march of mostly blacks to the white town of Camilla. The sheriff and a committee of “citizens” warned the black and white activists they would face violence and must turn in their guns. The marchers refused, and on September 19 about 400 whites murdered about a dozen blacks and wounded about forty.
      Louisiana’s former Governor Michael Hahn (1864-65) had been elected to the US Senate in 1865, but the Republicans had not let him take his seat. In 1867 he began editing the New Orleans Republican. In October 1868 he reported, “Murder and intimidation are the order of the day in this state.”21 In New Orleans whites broke up Republican meetings, and a mob destroyed a Republican newspaper, forcing the editor Emerson Bentley to flee. Then they attacked plantations and killed about 200 blacks. General Lovell Rousseau was a friend of President Johnson, and he took no action, advising blacks to avoid the polls for their own protection, concluding that the “ascendance of the negro in this state is approaching its end.”22 These massacres led Louisiana and Georgia Republicans to stop campaigning during the elections, and in eleven Georgia counties, where blacks were the majority, no votes were recorded for the Republican candidates.
      In October the Republicans won elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
      In the November election the Democratic candidate Seymour won in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Oregon as well as in Louisiana and Georgia for a total of 80 electoral votes. The states of Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas had not been restored to the Union and could not vote.
      The Republican Grant won 214 electoral votes in the other 26 states and got 52.7% of the people’s votes to Seymour’s 47.3%. Voters in Iowa and Minnesota passed constitutional amendments giving blacks the right to vote. Democrats gained 20 seats in the US House of Representatives. Republicans increased their majority in the US Senate to 57-9, but Senator Wade was defeated by the Democrat Allen Thurman who had been Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court for one term 1854-56. Voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania voted down referenda on giving blacks the vote. In the reconstructed states by 1868 about 703,000 black men and 627,000 white men had registered to vote. On November 3 in New Jersey 172 women voted although their ballots were “courteously refused” by the male electors.
      Grant returned to Washington on November 7. He had no experience in a civic office and thought he could run the government as he had his army staff; but he later realized that was an error which caused mistakes.
      President-elect Grant refused to ride in the same carriage with Johnson to the inauguration, and Johnson declined to attend. Instead while Grant was being inaugurated on 4 March 1869, Johnson sent out by telegraph his “Farewell Address to the People of the United States” in which he accused members of Congress of having

boldly betrayed their trust,
broken their oaths of obedience to the Constitution,
and undermined the very foundations
of liberty, justice and good government.

The address was printed in the New York Times and other newspapers.
      In four years the Freedmen’s Bureau had provided 21 million rations with about 5 million going to whites and 15 million to blacks. The Bureau had helped about 30,000 ex-slaves move. In the South 9,503 teachers were educating former slaves. The death rate of freedmen had been reduced from 38% in 1865 to 2% in 1869.
      In January 1875 Democrats in the Tennessee legislature elected Andrew Johnson to the US Senate, and he served from March 4 for almost five months until his death after a stroke on July 31.


1. Congressional Globe, 39th Congress 2d session, p. 320.
2. Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson by David O. Stewart, p. 81.
3. 39th Congress, 2 Session, House Report No. 23, p. 30 in The Annals of America, Volume 10, p. 88.
4. The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H. W. Brands, p. 401.
5. 40th Congress, 2 Session, House Executive Document No. 1 in The Annals of America, Vol. 10, p. 103.
6. The Annals of America, Vol. 10, p. 111.
7. Reconstruction: Voices from America’s First Great Struggle for Racial Equality ed. Brooks D. Simpson, p. 315.
8. Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1908 ed. James D. Richardson, Vol. 6, p. 565.
9. Ibid., p. 566.
10. New York Times, July 17, 1870 in Great Documents in American Indian History ed. Wayne Moquin, p. 211-213.
11. The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H. W. Brands, p. 413.
12. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, p. 144.
13. Grant by Jean Edward Smith, p. 519.
14. Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson by David O. Stewart, p. 158.
15. Ibid., p. 192.
16. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 6, p. 672-673.
17. Ibid., p. 691.
18. The Annals of America, Vol. 10, p. 122.
19. Official Proceedings of the National Republican Conventions, p. 64 in The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant by Charles W. Calhoun, p. 41.
20. Official Proceedings of the National Democratic Convention, p. 170 in The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant by Charles W. Calhoun, p. 46.
21. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877 by Eric Foner, p. 342.
22. Ibid.

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