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SPECIAL AND VETO MESSAGES OF PRESIDENT JOHNSON,
VOTES IN CONGRESS ON THE PASSAGE OF THE VETOED BILLS.
The Annual Message, December 4, 1865. The following extracts relate to reconstruction:
themselves in a condition where their vitality was impaired, but not extinguished their functions suspended, but not destroyed.
from the beginning, null and void. The States ual citizens who may have committed treason, cannot commit treason, nor screen the individany more than they could make valid treaties or I found the States suffering from the effects of engage in lawful commerce with any foreign a civil war. Resistance to the General Gov-power. The States attempting to secede placed ernment appeared to have exhausted itself. The United States had recovered possession of their forts and arsenals, and their armies were in the occupation of every State which had attempted to secede. Whether the territory within the limits of those States should be held as conquered territory, under military authority emanating from the President as the head of the army, was the first question that presented itself for decision.
Now, military governments, established for an indefinite period, would have offered no security for the early suppression of discontent; would have divided the people into the vanquishers and the vanquished; and would have envenomed hatred, rather than have restored affection. Once established, no precise limit to their continuance was conceivable. They would have occasioned an incalculable and exhausting Peaceful emigration to and from that expense. portion of the country is one of the best means that can be thought of for the restoration of harmony, and that emigration would have been prevented; for what emigrant from abroad, what industrious citizen at home, would place The himself willingly under military rule? chief persons who have followed in the train of the army would have been dependents on the General Government, or men who expected profit from the miseries of their erring fellowcitizens. The powers of patronage and rule which would have been exercised, under the President, over a vast and populous and naturally wealthy region, are greater than, unless under extreme necessity, I should be willing to intrust to any one man; they are such as, for myself, I could never, unless on occasions of great emergency, consent to exercise. The wilful use of such powers, if continued through a period of years, would have endangered the purity of the general administration and the liberties of the States which remained loyal.
Besides, the policy of military rule over a conquered territory would have implied that the States whose inhabitants may have taken part in the rebellion had, by the act of those inhabitants, ceased to exist. But the true theory is, that all pretended acts of secession were,
But if any State neglects or refuses to perform its offices, there is the more need that the General Government should maintain all its authority, and, as soon as practicable, resume the exercise of all its functions. On this principle I have acted, and have gradually and quietly, and by almost imperceptibe steps, sought to restore the rightful energy of the General Government and of the States. To that end, provisional gov ernors have been appointed for the States, conventions called, governors elected, legislatures assembled, and Senators and Representatives chosen to the Congress of the United States. At the same time, the Courts of the United States, as far as could be done, have been reopened, so that the laws of the United States may be enforced through their agency. The blockade has been removed and the custom-houses re established in ports of entry, so that the revenue of the United States may be collected. The Post Office Department renews its ceaseless activity, and the General Government is thereby enabled to communicate promptly with its officers and agents.
The courts bring security to persons and property; the opening of the ports invites the restoration of industry and commerce; the post office renews the facilities of social intercourse and of business. And is it not happy for us all, that the restoration of each one of theso functions of the General Government brings with it a blessing to the States over which they are extended? Is it not a sure promise of harmony and renewed attachment to the Union that, after all that has happened, the return of the General Government is known only as a beneficence?
I know very well that this policy is attended with some risk; that for its success it requires at least the acquiescence of the States which it concerns; that it implies an invitation to those States, by renewing their allegiance to the United States, to resume their functions as States of the Union. But it is a risk that must be taken; in the choice of difficulties, it is the smallest risk; and to diminish, and, if possible, to remove all
danger, I have felt it incumbent on me to asserting the autumn or early winter, nor until Con-
The next step which I have taken to restore
The amendment to the Constitution being adopted, it would remain for the States, whose powers have been so long in abeyance, to resume their places in the two branches of the national legislature, and thereby complete the work of restoration. Here it is for you, fellowcitizens of the Senate, and for you, fellow-citizens of the House of Representatives, to judge, each of you for yourselves, of the elections, returns, and qualinations of your own members. The full assertion of the powers of the General Government requires the holding of circuit courts of the United States within the districts where their authority has been interrupted. In the present posture of our public affairs, strong objections have been urged to holding those courts in any of the States where the rebellion has existed; and it was ascertained, by inquiry, that the circuit court of the United States would not be held within the district of Virginia dur
branch of the State legislature." After the
Southern and Southwestern. Such an act would have created a new class of voters, and would have been an assumption of power by the President which nothing in the Constitution or laws of the United States would have warranted.
On the other hand, every danger of conflict is avoided when the settlement of the question is referred to the several States. They can, each for itself, decide on the measure, and whether it is to be adopted at once and absolutely, or introduced gradually and with conditions. In my judgment, the freedmen, if they show patience and manly virtues, will sooner obtain a participation in the elective franchise through the States than through the General Government, even if it had power to intervene. When the tumult of emotions that have been raised by the suddenness of the social change shall have subsided, it may prove that they will receive the kindliest usage from some of those on whom they have heretofore most closely depended.
The career of free industry must be fairly opened to them: and then their future prosperity and condition must, after all, rest mainly on them. selves. If they fail, and so perish away, let us be careful that the failure shall not be attributable to any denial of justice. In all that relates to the destiny of the freedmen, we need not be too anxious to read the future; many incidents which, from a speculative point of view, might raise alarm, will quietly settle themselves.
Now that slavery is at an end or near its end, the greatness of its evil, in the point of view of public economy, becomes more and more apparent. Slavery was essentially a monopoly of labor, and as such locked the States where it prevailed against the incoming of free industry. Where labor was the property of the capitalist, the white man was excluded from employment, or had but the second best chance of finding it; and the foreign emigrant turned away from the region where his condition would be so precarious. With the destruction of the monopoly, free labor will hasten from all parts of the civilized world to assist in developing various and immeasurable resources which have hitherto lain dormant. The eight or nine States nearest the Gulf of Mexico have a soil of exuberant fertility, a climate friendly to long life, and can sustain a denser population than is found as yet in any part of our country. And the future influx of population to them will be mainly from the North, or from the most cultivated nations in Europe. From the sufferings that have attended them during our late struggle, let us look away to the future, which is sure to be laden for them with greater prosperity than has ever before been known. The removal of the monopoly of slave labor is a pledge that those regions will be peopled by a numerous and enterprising population, which will vie with any in the Union in compactness, inventive genius, wealth, and industry.
But while I have no doubt that now, after the close of the war, it is not competent for the General Government to extend the elective franchise in the several States, it is equally clear that good faith requires the security of the freedmen in their liberty and in their property, their right to labor, and their right to claim the just return of their labor. I cannot too strongly urge a dispassionate treatment of this subject, which should be carefully kept aloof from all party strife. We must equally avoid hasty asumptions of any natural impossibility for the two races to live side by side, in a state of mutual benefit and good will. The experiment involves us in no inconsistency; let us, then, go on and make that experiment in good faith, and not be too easily disheartened. The country is in need of labor, and the freedmen are in need of employment, culture, and protection. While their right of voluntary migration and expatriation is not to be questioned, I would not advise their forced removal and colonization. Let us rather encourage them to honorable and useful industry, where it may be beneficial to themselves and to the country; and, instead of hasty In reply to the resolution adopted by the Senanticipations of the certainty of failure, let there ate on the 12th instant, I have the honor to be nothing wanting to the fair trial of the ex-state that the rebellion waged by a portion periment. The change in their condition is the substitution of labor by contract for the status of slavery. The freedman cannot fairly be accused of unwillingness to work, so long as a doubt remains about his freedom of choice in his pursuits, and the certainty of his recovering his stipulated wages. In this the interests of the employer and the employed coincide. The employer desires in his workmen spirit and alacrity, and these can be permanently secured in As the result of the measures instituted by no other way. And if the one ought to be able the Executive, with the view of inducing a to enforce the contract, so ought the other. The resumption of the functions of the States compublic interest will be best promoted if the sev-prehended in the inquiry of the Senate, the eral States will provide adequate protection and remedies for the freedmen. Until this is in some way accomplished, there is no chance for the advantageous use of their labor; and the blame of ill success will not rest on them.
I know that sincere philanthropy is earnest for the immediate realization of its remotest aims; but time is always an element in reform. It is one of the greatest acts on record to have brought four millions of people into freedom.
Message on the late Insurrectionary States. To the Senate of the United States:
of the people against the properly-constituted authorities of the Government of the United States has been suppressed; that the United States are in possession of every State in which the insurrection existed; and that, as far as could be done, the courts of the United States have been restored, post offices re-established, and steps taken to put into effective operation the revenue laws of the country.
people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, have reorganized their respective State governments, and "are yielding obeIdience to the laws and Government of the United States" with more willingness and greater promptitude than under the circumstances could reasonably have been anticipated. The pro posed amendment to the Constitution, provid 'ing for the abolition of slavery forever within
the limits of the country, has been ratified by each one of those States, with the exception of Mississippi, from which no official information has yet been received; and in nearly all of them measures have been adopted or are now pending, to confer upon freedmen rights and privileges which are essential to their comfort, protection, and security. In Florida and Texas the people are making commendable progress in restoring their State governments, and no doubt is entertained that they will at an early period be in a condition to resume all of their practical relations to the Federal Government.
In "that portion of the Union lately in rebellion" the aspect of affairs is more promising than, in view of all the circumstances, could well have been expected. The people throughout the entire South evince a laudable desire to renew their allegiance to the Government, and to repair the devastations of war by a prompt and cheerful return to peaceful pursuits. An abiding faith is entertained that their actions will conform to their professions, and that, in acknowledging the supremacy of the Constitution and the laws of the United States, their loyalty will be unreservedly given to the Govment, whose leniency they cannot fail to appreciate, and whose fostering care will soon restore them to a condition of prosperity.
the scope of the inquiries made by the Senate of the United States in their resolution of the 12th instant, I have the honor to submit the following:
With your approval, and also that of the honorable Secretary of War, I left Washington citv on the 27th of last month for the purpose of making a tour of inspection through some of the Southern States, or States lately in rebellion, and to see what changes were necessary to be made in the disposition of the military forces of the country; how these forces could be reduced and expenses curtailed, &c.; and to learn, as far as possible, the feelings and intentions of the citizens of those States toward the General Government.
The State of Virginia being so accessible to Washington city, and information from this quarter therefore being readily obtained, I has tened through the State without conversing or meeting with any of its citizens. In Raleigh, North Carolina, I spent one day; in Charleston, South Carolina, two days; Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, each one day. Both in traveling and while stopping, I saw much and conversed freely with the citizens of those States, as well as with officers of the army who have been stationed among them. The following are the conclusions come to by me:
the highest tribunal-arms-that man can resort to. I was pleased to learn from the leading men whom I met, that they not only accepted the decision arrived at as final, but, now that the smoke of battle has cleared away and time has been given for reflection, that this decision has been a fortunate one for the whole country, they receiving like benefits from it with those who opposed them in the field and in council.
It is true that in some of the States the de- I am satisfied that the mass of thinking men moralizing effects of the war are to be seen in of the South accept the present situation of afoccasional disorders; but these are local in fairs in good faith. The questions which have character, not frequent in occurrence, and are heretofore divided the sentiments of the people rapidly disappearing as the authority of civil law of the two sections-slavery and States rights, is extended and sustained. Perplexing ques- or the right of a State to secede from the Union tions were naturally to be expected from the-they regard as having been settled forever by great and sudden change in the relations between the two races; but systems are gradually devoloping themselves under which the freedman will receive the protection to which he is justly entitled, and by means of his labor mako himself a useful and independent member of the community in which he has his home. From all the information in my possession, and from that which I have recently derived from the most reliable authority, I am induced to cherish the belief that sectional animosity is surely and rapidly merging itself into a spirit of nationality, and that representation, connected with a properly-adjusted system of taxation, will result in a harmonious restoration of the relations of the States to the national Union.
The report of Carl Schurz is herewith transmitted, as requested by the Senate. No reports from Hon. John Covode have been received by the President. The attention of the Senate is invited to the accompanying report of Lieutenant General Grant, who recently made a tour of inspection through several of the States whose inhabitants participated in the rebellion.
ANDREW JOHNSON. WASHINGTON, D. C., December 18, 1865. Accompanying Report of General Grant. HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE U. S., WASHINGTON, D. C., December 18, 1865. SIR: In reply to your note of the 16th inst., requesting a report from me giving such information as I may be possessed of, coming within
Four years of war, during which law was executed only at the point of the bayonet throughout the States in rebellion, have left the people possibly in a condition not to yield that ready obedience to civil authority the American people have generally been in the habit of yielding. This would render the presence of small garri sons throughout those States necessary until such time as labor returns to its proper channels, and civil authority is fully established. I did not meet any one, either those holding places under the Government or citizens of the Southern States, who think it practicable to withdraw the military from the South at present. The white and the black mutually require the protection of the General Government.
There is such universal acquiescence in the authority of the General Government throughout the portions of the country visited by me, that the mere presence of a military force, without regard to numbers, is sufficient to maintain order. The good of the country and economy require that the force kept in the interior, where there are many freedmen, (elsewhere in the SouthernStates than at forts upon the sea-coast no force
is necessary,) should all be white troops. The reasons for this are obvious without mentioning many of them. The presence of black troops, lately slaves, demoralizes labor both by their advice and by furnishing in their camps a resort for the freedmen for long distances around. White troops generally excite no opposition, and therefore a small number of them can maintain order in a given district. Colored troops must be kept in bodies sufficient to defend themselves. It is not the thinking men who would use violence toward any class of troops sent among them by the General Government, but the ignorant in some cases might, and the late slave seems to be imbued with the idea that the property of his late master should by right belong to him, or at least should have no protection from the colored soldier. There is danger of collisions being brought on by such causes.
My observations lead me to the conclusion that the citizens of the Southern States are anxious to return to self-government within the Union as soon as possible; that while recontructing, they want and require protection from the Government; that they are in earnest in wishing to do what they think is required by the Government, not humiliating to them as citizens, and that if such a course was pointed out they would pursue it in good faith. It is to be regretted that there cannot be a greater commingling at this time between the citizens of the two sections, and particularly of those in trusted with the law-making power.
towns, and cities. In such cases I think it will be found that vice and disease will tend to the extermination, or great reduction of the colored race. It cannot be expected that the opinions held by men at the South for years can be changed in a day; and therefore the freedmen require for a few years not only laws to protect them, but the fostering care of those who will give them good counsel, and in whom they can rely.
The Freedmen's Bureau, being separated from the military establishment of the country, requires all the expense of a separate organization. One does not necessarily know what the other is doing, or what orders they are acting under. It seems to me this could be corrected by regarding every officer on duty with troops in the Southern States as agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, and then have all orders from the head of the bureau sent through department commanders. This would create a responsibility that would secure uniformity of action throughout all the South; would insure the orders and instructions from the head of the bureau being carried out; and would relieve from duty and pay a large number of employés of the Government.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your
His Excellency A. JOHNSON,
President of the United States.
Veto of the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, February 19, 1866.
To the Senate of the United States:
I have examined with care the bill which originated in the Senate, and has been passed by the two Houses of Congress, to amend an act entitled "An act to establish a Bureau for the relief of Freedmen and Refugees," and for other purposes. Having, with much regret, come to the conclusion that it would not be consistent with the public welfare to give my approval to the measure, I return the bill to the Senate with my objections to its becoming a law.
I did not give the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau that attention I would have done if more time had been at my disposal. Conversations on the subject, however, with officers connected with the bureau lead me to think that in some of the States its affairs have not been conducted with good judgment or economy, and that the belief, widely spread among the freedmen of the Southern States, that the lands of their former owners will, at least in part, be divided among them, has come from the agents of this bureau. This belief is seriously interfering with the willingress of the freedmen to make contracts for the coming year. In some form the Freedmen's I might call to mind, in advance of these obBureau is an absolute necessity until civil law jections, that there is no immediate necessity for is established and enforced, secnring to the freed- the proposed measure. The act to establish a men their rights and full protection. At present, bureau for the relief of freedmen and refugees, however, it is independent of the military es- which was approved in the month of March tablishment of the country, and seems to be last, has not yet expired. It was thought strinoperated by the different agents of the bureau gent and extensive enough for the purpose in according to their individual notions. Every-view in time of war. Before it ceases to have where General Howard, the able head of the bureau, made friends by the just and fair instructions and advice he gave; but the complaint in South Carolina was, that when he left things I share with Congress the strongest desire to went on as before. Many, perhaps the majority, secure to the freedmen the full enjoyment of of the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau advise their freedom and property, and their entire the freedmen that by their own industry they independence and equality in making contracts must expect to live. To this end they endeavor for their labor; but the bill before me contains to secure employment for them, and to see that provisions which, in my opinion, are not warboth contracting parties comply with their en-ranted by the Constitution, and are not well gagements. In some instances, I am sorry to say, the freedman's mind does not seem to be disabused of the idea that a freedman has the right to live without care or provision for the fature. The effect of the belief in division of lands is idleness and accumulation in camps,
effect, further experience may assist to guide us to a wise conclusion as to the policy to be adopted in time of peace.
suited to accomplish the end in view.
The bill proposes to establish, by authority of Congress, military jurisdiction over all parts of the United States containing refugees and freedmen. It would, by its very nature, apply with most force to those parts of the United States in