senseless. Then Washington went down, while Andy, Bill
I did not give, the operation 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, led me to think that in some of the States its affairs have not been conducted with good judgment and economy, and that the belief, widely spread among the freedmen of the Southern States, that the land of their former masters will, at least in part, be divided among them, has come from the agents of this Bureau. This belief is seriously interfering with the willingness of the freedmen to make contracts for the coming year. In some form the Freedmen's Bureau is an absolute necessity until civil law is established and enforced, securing to the freedmen their rights and full protection. At present, however, it is independent of the Military establishment of the country, and seems to be operated by the different agents of the Bureau according to their individual notions, every where. Gen. 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 went on as before. Many, perhaps the majority of the agents of the Bureau, advised the freedmen that by their industry they must expect to live. To this end they endeavor to secure employment for them: to see that both contracting parties comply with their agreements. 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 a right to live without care or provision for the future. The effect of the belief in the division of lands is idleness and accumulation in camps, 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 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.
U. S. Grant, Lieutenant General.
This report was at once vigorously denounced in and out of Congress, by the extremists. Mr. Sumner characterized it in the Senate, as a "whitewashing report." The standing of General Grant in the country at large, however, was such that few had the indiscretion to attack him openly.
The controlling element of the party which had elected Lincoln and Johnson, had acquiesced for a time in the plan of reconstruction foreshadowed by Mr. Lincoln and adopted by Mr. Johnson, but during the summer of 1865, frictions developed between Mr. Johnson and those who on Mr. Lincoln's death had assumed the leadership in the work of reconstruction and other matters of administration, came to take the opposite ground, from the first occupied by Sumner and other extremists in Congress--that the States lately in rebellion had destroyed themselves by their own act of war, and had thereby forfeited all the rights of Statehood and were but conquered provinces, subject solely to the will of the conqueror.
From that point their ways parted and widened from month to month, till bitter hostility, political and personal, came to mark even their official intercourse.
Mr. Johnson was practically unknown to the great mass of the people of the North till he succeeded to the Presidency. He was in no sense regarded as or assumed to be the leader of the dominant party; while those who on Mr. Lincoln's death became leaders of the dominant party in opposition to Mr. Johnson's administration and policies, were widely known and of long public experience, and had correspondingly the confidence of their party.
So, in the strife that ensued, as it became embittered with the lapse of time, Mr. Johnson was at great disadvantage, and made little or no headway, but rather lost ground as the controversy progressed. His moderate, conservative views, radically expressed, in regard to what should be the methods of reconstruction and the restoration of the Union, found little favor with the mass of the veterans of the Union armies who had but lately returned from the victorious fields of the South, their blood not yet cooled after the fury and heat of the strife while to many, who had witnessed the horrors of war at a safe distance, with the cessation of hostilities in the field, to which they had been only anxious spectators, became suddenly enthused over issues that others had fought out in battle, and vigorously vicious towards Mr. Johnson for presuming to treat the conquered people of the South as American citizens and entitled to the rights of such, after having laid down their arms and peacefully returned to their homes and their respective callings.
This temper, permeating, as it did, the dominant party of practically every Northern State, was not unstintingly reflected upon the National Capitol in the return to Congress of a large majority in both Houses, of men who sympathized with and reflected back again upon their constituents the most extreme views as to what should be the policy of the Government towards the South.