Can’t tell the players without a program
Draft of 2006.09.13 ☛ 2015.03.17 ☛ 2016.07.22
As ever, I am proofreading books my wife and I have bought and scanned, and submitted to the Distributed Proofreaders community. Here’s what’s come across the transom today. Change the names, change the party affiliations, cross your fingers and change the fact of the Civil War, and you may not be able to tell the difference between things now, and 140 years ago.
Surely, though, we are all very different people. Much more advanced.
Theoretical schemes from cultivated intellects, as well as crude notions from less intellectual but extreme men, found expression in resolutions and plans, many of which were absurd and most of them impracticable and illegal.
From The Galaxy: A Magazine of Entertaining Reading, Volume 23, Issue 1, January 1877:
…the Presidency of Mr. Lincoln, unrepresented in the national councils, and in open rebellion. A belt of border States, extending from the Delaware to the Rocky mountains, which, though represented in Congress, had a divided population, was distrustful of the President. Yielding the Administration a qualified support, and opposed to the Government in almost all its measures, was an old organized and disciplined party in all the free States, which seemed to consider its obligations to party paramount to duty to the country. This last, if it did not boldly participate with the rebels, was an auxiliary, and as a party, hostile to the Administration, and opposed to nearly every measure for suppressing the insurrection.
There were among the friends of the Administration, and especially during its last two years, radical differences, which in the first stages of the war were undeveloped. The mild and persuasive temper of the President, his generous and tolerant disposition, and his kind and moderate forbearance toward the rebels, whom he invited and would persuade to return to their allegiance and their duty, did not correspond with the schemes and designs of the extreme and violent leaders of the Republican party. They had other objects than reconstruction to attain, were implacable and revengeful, and some with ulterior radical views thought the opportunity favorable to effect a change of administration.
These had for years fomented division, encouraged strife, and were as ultra and as unreasonable in their demands and exactions as the secessionists. Some had welcomed war with grim satisfaction, and were for prosecuting it unrelentingly with fire and sword to the annihilation of the rights, and the absolute subversion of the Southern States and subjection of the Southern people. There was in their ranks unreasoning fanaticism, and ferocity that partook of barbarism, with a mixture of political intrigue fatal to our Federal system. These men, dissatisfied with President Lincoln, accused him of temporizing, of imbecility, and of sympathy with the rebels because he would not confiscate their whole property, and hang or punish them as pirates or traitors. These radical Republicans, as they were proud to call themselves, occupied, like all extreme men in high party and revolutionary times, the front rank of their party, and, though really a minority, gave tone and character to the Republican organization. Fired with avenging zeal, and often successful in their extreme views, though to some extent checked and modified by the President, they were presuming, and flattered themselves they could, if unsuccessful with Mr. Lincoln, effect a change in the administration of the Government in 1864 by electing a President who would conform to their ultra demands. Secret meetings and whispered consultations were held for that purpose, and for a time aspiring and calculating politicians gave them encouragement; but it soon became evident that the conservative sentiment of the Republicans and the country was with Mr. Lincoln, and that the confidence of the people in his patriotism and integrity was such as could not be shaken. Nevertheless, a small band of the radicals held out and would not assent to his benignant policy. These malcontents undertook to create a distinct political organization which, if possessed of power, would make a more fierce and unrelenting war on the rebels, break down their local institutions, overturn their State governments, subjugate the whites, elevate the blacks, and give not only freedom to the slaves, but by national decree override the States, and give suffrage to the whole colored race. These extreme and rancorous notions found no favor with Mr. Lincoln, who, though nominally a Whig in the past, had respect for the Constitution, loved the Federal Union, and had a sacred regard for the rights of the States, which the Whigs as a party did not entertain. War two years after secession commenced brought emancipation, but emancipation did not dissolve the Union, consolidate the Government, or clothe it with absolute power; nor did it impair the authority and rights which the States had reserved. Emancipation was a necessary, not a revolutionary measure, forced upon the Administration by the secessionists themselves, who insisted that slavery which was local and sectional should be made national.
The war was, in fact, defensive on the part of the Government against a sectional insurrection which had seized the fortresses and public property of the nation; a war for the maintenance of the Union, not for its dissolution; a war for the preservation of individual, State, and Federal rights; good administration would permit neither to be sacrificed nor one to encroach on the other. The necessary exercise of extraordinary war powers to suppress the Rebellion had given encouragement and strength to the centralists who advocated the consolidation and concentration of authority in the general Government in peace as well as war, and national supervision over the States and people. Neither the radical enthusiasts nor the designing centralists admitted or subscribed to the doctrine that political power emanated from the people; but it was the theory of both that the authority exercised by the States was by grant derived from the parental or general Government. It was their theory that the Government created the States, not that the States and people created the Government. Some of them had acquiesced in certain principles which were embodied in the fundamental law called the Constitution; but the Constitution was in their view the child of necessity, a mere crude attempt of the theorists of 1776, who made successful resistance against British authority, to limit the power of the new central Government which was substituted for that of the crown. For a period after the Revolution it was admitted that feeble limitations on central authority had been observed, though it was maintained that those limitations had been obstructions to our advancing prosperity, the cause of continual controversy, and had gradually from time to time been dispensed with, broken down, or made to yield to our growing necessities. The civil war had made innovations–a sweep, in fact, of many constitutional barriers–and radical consolidationists like Thaddeus Stevens and Henry Winter Davis felt that the opportunity to fortify central authority and establish its supremacy should be improved.
These were the ideas and principles of leading consolidationists and radicals in Congress who were politicians of ability, had studied the science of government, and were from conviction opponents of reserved rights and State sovereignty and of a mere confederation or Federal Union, based on the political equality and reserved sovereignty of the States, but insisted that the central Government should penetrate further and act directly on the people. Few of these had given much study or thought to fundamental principles, the character and structure of our Federal system, or the Constitution itself. Most of them, under the pressure of schemers and enthusiasts, were willing to assume and ready to exercise any power deemed expedient, regardless of the organic law. Almost unrestrained legislation to carry on the war induced a spirit of indifference to constitutional restraint, and brought about an assumption by some, a belief by others, that Congress was omnipotent; that it was the embodiment of the national will, and that the other departments of the Government as well as the States were subordinate and subject to central Congressional control. Absolute power, the centralists assumed and their fanatical associates seemed to suppose, was vested in the legislative body of the country, and its decrees, arbitrary and despotic, often originating in and carried first by a small vote in party caucus, were in all cases claimed to be decisive, and to be obeyed by the Executive, the judiciary, and the people, regardless of the Constitution. Parliamentary discussions were not permitted, or of little avail. The acts of caucus were discriminatory, and decisive. The several propositions and plans of President Lincoln to reëstablish the Union, and induce the seceding States to resume their places and be represented in Congress, were received with disfavor by the radical leaders, who, without open assault, set in motion an undercurrent against nearly every Executive proposition as the weak and impotent offspring of a well meaning and well intentioned, but not very competent and intelligent mind. It was the difference between President Lincoln and the radical leaders in Congress on the question of reconciliation, the restoration of the States, and the reëstablishment of the Union on the original constitutional basis, which more than even his genial and tolerant feelings toward the rebels led to political intrigue among Republican members of Congress for the nomination of new candidates, and opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s reëlection in 1864. At one period this intrigue seemed formidable, and some professed friends lent it their countenance, if they did not actually participate in it, who ultimately disavowed any connection with the proceeding.
Singular ideas were entertained and began to be developed in propositions of an extraordinary character, relative to the powers and the construction of the Government, which were presented to Congress, even in the first year of the war. Theoretical schemes from cultivated intellects, as well as crude notions from less intellectual but extreme men, found expression in resolutions and plans, many of which were absurd and most of them impracticable and illegal. Foremost and prominent among them were a series of studied and elaborate resolutions prepared by Charles Sumner, and submitted to the Senate on the 11th of February, 1862. Although presented at that early day, they were the germ of the reconstruction policy adopted at a later period. In this plan or project for the treatment of the insurrectionary States and the people who resided in them, the Massachusetts Senator manifested little regard for the fundamental law or for State or individual rights. The high position which this Senator held in the Republican party and in Congress and the country, his cultured mind and scholarly attainments, his ardent if not always discreet zeal and efforts to free the slaves and endow the whole colored race, whether capable or otherwise, with all the rights and privileges, socially and politically, of the educated and refined white population whom they had previously served, his readiness and avowed intention to overthrow the local State governments and the social system where slavery existed, to subjugate the whites and elevate the blacks, will justify a special notice; for it was one of the first, if not the very first of the radical schemes officially presented to change the character of the Government and the previously existing distinctions between the races. His theory or plan may be taken as the pioneer of the many wild and visionary projects of the central and abolition force, that took shape and form not only during the war, but after hostilities ceased and the rebels were subdued….