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By W R Brock

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Additional resources for An American Crisis: Congress and Reconstruction 1865–1867

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2 The Reconstruction proclarnations eame like a tonic to the demoralized South. The mass of the people were unconditionally pardoned, and their leaders were led to expect a favourable consideration if they made personal application for presidential pardons. ), Messages ana Papers, VI, 310. , )U. An American erisir 34 struction if they took a simple oath to the United States, which was no more than a recognition of the situation following Southern defeat. The vital power of fixing the qualifications for office and suffrage was specifically given to the States, and the claim of Congress to exclude leaders of the rebellion from State office or to alter the suffrage was denied.

C. Butler Papers, draft reply to J. Ogden Smith, I Jul. 1865. c. Wads Papers, ~6 JuL 1865. 6 LC. Butler Papers, Wade to Buder, 19 Jul. 1865. '2 He added that 'the Administration needs 10 be defied or overawed by such an exhibition of popular sentiment as you and Sumner and one or two others could easily start. Tobe effectual this should be attempted before Congress meets'. T 0 men who believed that Reconstruction must be drastic to be just the future seemed bleak, for the majority of the Republican party might be swayed to an easy acceptance of Johnson's restoration.

There is no doubt that Stevens intended the period of Territorial status to be employed to reconstruct Southem society; he intended to destroy the power of the Southem ruling class by imposing political disabilities, by confiscating their estates, and by distributing their land among the freedmen to provide the economic basis for a free negro peasantry. Stevens did not favour immediate negro suffrage because he believed that in their present condition the freedmen would fall under the influence of their former masters, but when they had been made economically secure he expected them to be given the vote and assume a Jeffersonian role as cultivators of the soil and bulwarks of political virtue.

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