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A Documentary History of the Civil War Era

Volume 1, Legislative Achievements

Thomas C. Mackey

Publication Year: 2012

A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is the first comprehensive collection of public policy actions, political speeches, and judicial decisions related to the American Civil War. This three-volume set gives scholars, teachers, and students easy access to the full texts of the most important, fundamental documents as well as hard-to-find, rarely published primary sources on this critical period in U.S. history.
    The first volume of the series, Legislative Achievements, contains legislation passed in response to the turmoil seizing the country on the brink of, during, and in the wake of the Civil War. Forthcoming are volume 2, Political Arguments, which contains voices of politicians, political party platforms, and administrative speeches, and volume 3, Judicial Decisions, which provides judicial opinions and decisions as the Civil War raged in the courtrooms as well as on the battlefields.
    Organized chronologically, each of the selections is preceded by an introductory headnote that explains the document’s historical significance and traces its lasting impact. These headnotes provide insight into not only law and public policy but also the broad sweep of issues that engaged Civil War–era America.
    Legislative Achievements features some of the most momentous and enduring public policy documents from the time, beginning with the controversial September 15, 1850, Fugitive Slave Act and concluding with the June 18, 1878, Posse Comitatus Act. Both military and nonmilitary legislation constitute this part, including the April 19, 1861, proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln declaring a naval blockade on Southern ports and Confederate President Jefferson Davis’s proclamation authorizing blockade runners to attack Northern shipping, both issued on the same day. Nonmilitary legislation includes statutes affecting the postwar period, such as the 1862 Homestead Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and all four of the Reconstruction Acts. Also in this section are the three constitutional amendments, the Habeas Corpus Acts of 1863 and 1867, the Freedman’s Bureau Acts of 1865 and 1866, and the 1867 Tenure of Office Act together with President Andrew Johnson’s message vetoing the Act. 
    A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era is an essential acquisition for academic and public libraries in addition to being a valuable resource for students of the Civil War and Reconstruction, legal history, public policy, and nineteenth-century American history.

THOMAS C. MACKEY is a professor of history at the University of Louisville and adjunct Professor of Law at Brandeis School of Law. He is the author of Pornography on Trial (2002)  and Pursuing Johns (2005).


Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page and Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This project did not happen without the help of numerous people and they have earned mention and thanks in this acknowledgment. Of course, all errors of omission and commission in this work are mine alone. A good place to start (and a good place to work) would be the University of Tennessee Press. Scot Danforth, director of the Press and specialist in the era of the United States Civil War, has offered encouragement and been patient...

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Introduction: A Documentary History of the American Civil War Era

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pp. xi-21

In 1881, Union Civil War veteran, distinguished law author and attorney, and later Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. published a little book entitled, The Common Law. Although little read in its entirety today, the point of the book continues to influence law academics, historians of the law, and jurisprudents...

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Volume 1 Legislative Achievements

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pp. 1-4

This first section contains some of the best-known nonmilitary and military public policies enacted before, during, and after the era of the United States Civil War and Reconstruction. It opens with what turned out to be the most controversial part of the so-called Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and closes with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which limited federal and military interference in overseeing voting in localities in the southern states. In between can be found...

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The Fugitive Slave Act, September 18, 1850

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pp. 5-10

None of the various parts of the so-called “Compromise of 1850” proved more controversial than the new fugitive slave act. For southerners, the price of continued Union with the North and Midwest was greater federal guarantees of the return of their runaway human property...

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Kansas-Nebraska Act, May 30, 1854

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pp. 11-28

In the history of the United States, a few statutes stand out as constituting true turning points in the nation’s history—this statute is one of those key turning points. In its structure, this statute is a normal enabling act providing for territorial governmental structure as stated in the..

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The Crittenden Compromise, December 18, 1860

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pp. 29-32

From at least the 1787 federal Constitutional Convention forward, whenever a major political controversy arose in the United States, politicians crafted some sort of compromise and accommodation. No one politician based and developed his political reputation on crafting national sectional compromises more than Kentucky Senator Henry...

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Proposed Thirteenth Amendment of 1860, March 2, 1861

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pp. 33-54

Congress, Senate, Joint Resolution to Amend Constitution, March 2, 1861; 36th Congress, 2nd Session: Congressional Globe, 1364. This proposed constitutional amendment constituted one of the last (and last-ditch) proposals at compromise during the secession winter of 1860–1861. Aimed to reassure the Border States and the states of the..

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Proposed Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution of 1860–1861

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pp. 34-57

George P. Sanger, ed., The Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1863), 12:251. [No. 13.] Joint Resolution to amend the Constitution of the United States. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several...

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President Abraham Lincoln - A Proclamation, April 15, 1861

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pp. 37-38

Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 4:331–32. At 4:30 a.m. on Friday, April 12, 1861, the Confederate artillery batteries surrounding federal Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, started their bombardment. During the 1860–1861..

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Governor Magoffin’s Refusal of Troops, April 16, 1861; and, Kentucky’s Declaration of Neutrality, May 16, 1861

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pp. 39-40

On April 12, 1861, when the military events of the Civil War started with the firing on Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation calling up the militia to meet the insurrectionist challenge, the Border States found themselves at a crossroads. With divided...

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Proclamations on Blockade and Marque

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pp. 41-44

Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 4:339–40. On April 19, 1861, in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, president of the United States Abraham Lincoln and president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis issued related proclamations. With the recent attack upon Fort Sumter and its surrender and Lincoln’s April...

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The Crittenden-Johnson Resolutions on the Objects of the War, July 22, 1861

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pp. 45-46

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Congress was not in session. To deal with the immediate crisis, President Abraham Lincoln called Congress into special session, but postponed the date for its meeting until the symbolic date of July 4. Once in session, Congress passed legislation supporting the president’s earlier actions and it began...

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The First Confiscation Act, August 6, 1861

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pp. 47-48

Embedded in this legalistic document exists the hope of the abolitionists and a fear of the Border State residents and southerners— federal uncompensated emancipation of slaves. The confiscation of the property of belligerents is a routine part of the law of war, and nothing in this...

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Seditious Conspiracy Act, July 31, 1861

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pp. 49-50

Internal security concerns have been, are, and will continue to be an issue in the history of the United States, and the era of the Civil War was no exception. This act established the new federal crime of seditious conspiracy. Less than treason (the only crime defined in the 1787...

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Abolishment of Slavery in the District of Columbia Act, April 16, 1862

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pp. 51-54

While enormous controversy swirled for at least a decade around the issue of Congress’ power to prohibit or provide for slavery in the western territories of the United States, an issue that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and a majority of the United States Supreme Court sought to “solve” with their ill-fated 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford, 19 Howard...

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Confederate Conscription Act, April 17, 1862; and, The “Twenty Negro” Amendment, October 11, 1862

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pp. 55-62

Irony exists in that it was the so-called Confederacy—allegedly committed to personal liberty and the shibboleth of state rights— that first instituted a national military draft. Recognizing its lack of manpower for its fighting forces and seeing that volunteer enlistment was not meeting..

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Homestead Act of 1862, May 20, 1862

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pp. 63-66

One of the most important nonmilitary pieces of legislation enacted during the United States Civil War, homesteads on the large public lands in the great West had long been dreamed of by policy makers and the general population in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Not free land distributed to persons in the West but inexpensive land, homesteads...

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Pacific Railroad Act, July 1, 1862

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pp. 67-80

Another of the most important nonmilitary pieces of legislation enacted during the Civil War era, this act provided the legal beginning of what would become the transcontinental railroad. Started during the war, but not completed until 1869, the idea of a transcontinental...

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Morrill Land Grant Act, July 2, 1862

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pp. 81-84

Although the Land Ordinance of 1785 had provided that section sixteen of every township would be sold and the monies used to establish a “school fund,” the schools established were overwhelmingly grammar or secondary schools. By the 1850s, northerners and midwesterners had become interested in what came to be described as the “Illinois Idea,” which set aside public lands for institutions of higher learning...

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Non-Issued Lincoln Veto To Second Confiscation, July 12, 1862

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pp. 85-88

Edward McPherson, The Political History of the United States of America, During the Great Rebellion (Washington, D.C.: Philp & Solomons, 1865), 197– 98; Abraham Lincoln to Congress (July 17, 1862, Draft of Veto Message). Transcribed and annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois. Available at Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division (Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, [2000–2001]), http://memory...

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Supplement, Abolishment of Slavery in the District of Columbia Act ,July 12, 1862

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pp. 89-90

This supplement to the April 16, 1862, District of Columbia Abolishment of Slavery Act clarified the processes for filing actions for freedom and who could and could not file for such actions. It also prohibited discrimination by color of witnesses who could testify to the residence of the person who had sought freedom under this suit. This provision..

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Judiciary Act, July 15, 1862

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pp. 91-92

Even the in midst of a civil war, Congress had a duty to maintain and support the federal judiciary. In this act, Congress added and adjusted the federal circuits in the country, adding a new state, Kansas, to the circuits. Although the so-called Confederate States closed the federal district and circuit courts, it is interesting to note that Congress...

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The Militia Act, July 17, 1862

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pp. 93-96

This statute is a hodge-podge of house-cleaning issues, including sections that inch the nation closer to wartime and war powers emancipation. It clarifies the length of service of the thousands of men volunteering for nine- and twelve-month commitments in the military service, and provides...

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The Second Confiscation Act, July 17, 1862

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pp. 97-100

An extension of the First Confiscation Act of 1861, this act expands upon and clarifies the law of confiscation especially as it applied to the slaves of those persons in rebellion. It provides a judicial process—known as in rem proceedings—for removing title to private property...

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The Second Confiscation Act Supplement, July 17, 1862

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pp. 101-102

President Abraham Lincoln let it be known that while he fully supported the intent of the Second Confiscation Act, some parts of some sections of the act bothered him sufficiently that he would veto the whole act. What concerned the president were the provisions in the first, second,..

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West Virginia Act, December 31, 1862

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pp. 103-106

Western Virginians held long-standing grievances with the Virginia state government in Richmond, such as the distance to the capitol for judicial appeals, a perception of a lack of concern for the needs of the mountain counties, and the expenses incurred to be a part of Virginia. Yet, the greatest difference was resentment in the mountains against...

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National Banking Act, February 25, 1863

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pp. 107-128

Clarifying and institutionalizing a stronger system of banking for the United States, this statute marks a major advance in the modernization of the nation’s banking system. Driven and crafted in large part by Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, this statute provided the Union with a streamlined banking system and a means for the raising...

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Federal Conscription Act, March 3, 1863

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pp. 129-138

On April 17, 1862, the so-called Confederate Congress enacted the first Civil War–era conscription act—popularly called the draft. Volunteerism had not filled the ranks as southern military and civilian leadership needed, so the military circumstances forced them to the controversial step of conscripting men into the ranks of the army. Given...

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Habeas Corpus Act, March 3, 1863

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pp. 139-144

Habeas corpus, the great writ of liberty, is one of the most celebrated, if not the most celebrated, bulwarks of personal liberty in the Anglo-American legal world and history. Meaning in Latin, “you shall have the body,” habeas corpus provides a process for those being held as prisoners or in custodial holdings so they can petition a court and request an inquiry into their detention. This writ (a court’s instruction...

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The Freedmen’s Bureau Act, March 3, 1865

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pp. 145-148

With this act, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln established the first federal social service organization in United States history. Its goal was to aid the transition from slavery to freedom of the African American community and other displaced persons. The act established a division within the War Department to assist in the distribution of “provisions...

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Thirteenth Amendment, Passed by Congress January 31, 1865, and Ratified December 6, 1865

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pp. 149-150

Neither the Confiscation Acts nor President Abraham Lincoln’s January 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the United States. Though it can be argued that the Union army victory in April 1865 ended slavery, the institution’s constitutional, legal, and formal end came with the...

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President Andrew Johnson Veto of the Freedmen’s Bureau Act, February 19, 1866

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pp. 151-158

Paul H. Bergeron, ed., The Papers of Andrew Johnson (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 10:120–27. Congress wished to extend the life of the Freedmen’s Bureau and wanted the organization to continue its work past the one year originally established for it. While President Abraham Lincoln willingly signed the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1865, by the time of its extension, Lincoln had been....

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President Andrew Johnson Veto of the Civil Rights Bill, March 27, 1866

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pp. 159-168

Paul H. Bergeron, ed., The Papers of Andrew Johnson (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press), 10:312–20. Before a bill passed by both houses of the Congress becomes law, it must receive the approval of the president. In March 1866, Congress reacted to the passage of the so-called “Black Codes” by the southern states that re-established slavery in everything but name by passing the nation’s first...

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Civil Rights Act, April 9, 1866

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pp. 169-172

The nation’s first civil rights act passed to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment of 1865, this legislation reflects the assumptions of the Republican majority in the Congress that the United States was a nation and that “all persons born in the United States” possessed certain fundamental national rights, which included the newly freed black population...

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The Freedmen’s Bureau Act, July 16, 1866

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pp. 173-178

This act extended the life of the 1865 Freedmen’s Bureau two additional years and did so over two vetoes by President Andrew Johnson. The statute clarified the powers of the agents of the Bureau (one of Johnson’s objections) and clarified where the Bureau could operate. Sections 6 through 12 dealt with the touchy issue of land claims under the...

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President Andrew Johnson Freedmen’s Bureau Veto Message, July 16, 1866

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pp. 179-184

After President Andrew Johnson vetoed and sent back to the Senate and the House of Representatives Congress’ first bill to extend the Freedmen’s Bureau, the Congress went back to work on the legislation. In July 1866, they sent Johnson a new bill, which he again vetoed on several grounds. Johnson argued that with the war over, Congress lacked the power...

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Judicial Circuits Act, July 23, 1866

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pp. 185-186

Congress controls the composition of the lower federal courts as well as the total number of United States Supreme Court justices. The 1787 Constitution states in Article 3 that “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress...

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Habeas Corpus Act, February 5, 1867

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pp. 187-190

This extension and elaboration of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1863 establishes what is essentially the modern basis of jurisdiction for habeas corpus. The “great writ” of liberty is both a procedural mechanism that begins a judicial inquiry into why a person is being held by public authorities and a traditional protection of liberty from arbitrary detention. It is not enough to demonstrate that the individual is being..

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The Reconstruction Act [First], March 2, 1867

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pp. 191-194

Over the veto of President Andrew Johnson, Congress took control of Reconstruction policy with this first (and most important) of the Reconstruction acts. Instead of relatively mild and fast Reconstruction, Congress, supported by political majorities in the North and Midwest, established a slower and harder Reconstruction for the state governments...

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President Andrew Johnson’s Veto of the First Military Reconstruction Act, March 2, 1867

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pp. 195-208

In 1866, when voters of the North and Midwest regions demonstrated their support of the congressional Republicans and their policies versus the arguments, antics, and policies of President Andrew Johnson and the Democratic Party in the off-year elections, the Republican Party increased its majorities in both the House of Representatives...

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Tenure of Office Act, March 2, 1867

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pp. 209-212

A product of the contest for power and authority between President Andrew Johnson and the Republican-controlled Congress, and enacted over the veto of the president, this act sought to protect the holdover Lincoln cabinet officers who supported Congress’ plans for Reconstruction from removal by President Johnson. Section 1 states that..

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President Andrew Johnson Veto of the Tenure of Office Act, March 2, 1867

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pp. 213-220

As tensions grew between President Andrew Johnson and congressional Republicans during Reconstruction, the Republicans sought to protect the holdover Lincoln cabinet officers who still served in Johnson’s administration. In particular, Congress wanted to protect Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who had become disenchanted with Johnson...

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Anti-Peonage Act, March 2, 1867

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pp. 221-222

Peonage is a form of debt slavery. A laborer who owes a debt is held to service in a slave-like status because of the monetary debt owed to another. After the Civil War, peonage appeared among the labor force in New Mexico and in parts of the South when blacks were arrested, usually for “vagrancy,” and could not pay the fine. The laborer would...

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The Reconstruction Act [Second], March 23, 1867

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pp. 223-228

This second of the Reconstruction Acts should be read as an amendment and extension of the first Reconstruction Act passed on March 2. Like the first act, Congress enacted this public policy over President Andrew Johnson’s veto. In this act, Congress established some of the details used in the process of reconstructing loyal state governments,..

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President Andrew Johnson Veto of the Second Military Reconstruction Act, March 23, 1867

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pp. 229-234

Because congressional Reconstruction included the southern African American population as political participants, President Johnson opposed Congress’ Reconstruction. While Johnson’s first veto message spoke to structural and accountability issues that provided some cover for his racial bias, such language is not present in this second veto...

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Reconstruction Act [Third], July 19, 1867

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pp. 235-238

An Act supplementary to an Act entitled “An Act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel States,” passed on the second day of March, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, and the Act supplementary thereto, passed on the twentythird day of March, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it is hereby declared to have been the true intent and meaning of the act of the...

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Veto of the Third Military Reconstruction Act, July 19, 1867

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pp. 239-248

Throughout Reconstruction President Andrew Johnson took a goslow obstructionist approach to the administration of the law. Under the first and second Reconstruction Acts, military commanders had removed white political officeholders because of their lack of loyalty to the nation during war. Johnson asked his Attorney General, Henry Stanbery,...

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Articles of Impeachment Presented against President Andrew Johnson, February 24, 1868

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pp. 249-260

In February 1868, Congress made constitutional history when it voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson—the first presidential impeachment in United States history. What in time proved a political and legal calculation, Congress took this extreme step in response to Johnson’s obstruction of Congress’ plans for proceeding with Reconstruction...

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Reconstruction Act [Fourth], March 11, 1868

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pp. 261-262

This fourth Reconstruction Act amends and clarifies the previous Reconstruction Acts to make clear who could vote and how those votes were to be counted. Although President Andrew Johnson vetoed the previous three Reconstruction Acts, he did not veto this act; instead, he allowed...

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Fourteenth Amendment, Passed by Congress, June 13, 1866, and Ratified July 9, 1868

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pp. 263-264

Known as the “Second Constitution,” the Fourteenth Amendment dealt with immediate issues arising from the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction and, in Section 1, reworked the fundamental political basis of the nation and the balance in federalism between the states and the federal government. Sections 2 through 4 dealt with how to punish...

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Fifteenth Amendment, Passed by Congress, February 26, 1869 and Ratified February 3, 1870

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pp. 265-266

Often misunderstood, this amendment granted the vote to no one. All this constitutional amendment did was place a new federal restriction on the states not to deny the vote to persons “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The United States Supreme Court agreed in its 1876 decision of United States v. Reese, 92 U.S. 214. In...

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The Enforcement Act of 1870, May 30, 1870

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pp. 267-276

This act and its companion, the Enforcement Act of April 20, 1871 (the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act), constitute the Force Acts. In 1870 and 1871, some of the western counties of South Carolina descended back into rebellion, and a wave of violence and political repression broke out there, directed at the black population and their white Republican supporters...

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The Enforcement Act of 1871, April 20, 1871

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pp. 277-282

This act and its companion, the Enforcement Act of April 20, 1871 (the so-called Ku Klux Klan Act), constitute the Force Acts. In 1870 and 1871, some of the western counties of South Carolina descended back into rebellion, and a wave of violence and political repression broke out there, directed at the black population and their white Republican supporters...

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Civil Rights Act, March 1, 1875

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pp. 283-286

This extraordinary piece of legislation met the needs of an extraordinary time and situation. The presidential election of 1876 resulted in a constitutional and political crisis because the speaker of the House received contradictory sets of electoral votes from the states of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida and an issue regarding a disputed elector...

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Congressional Electoral Commission Act, January 29, 1877

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pp. 287-292

This extraordinary piece of legislation met the needs of an extraordinary time and situation. The presidential election of 1876 resulted in a constitutional and political crisis because the speaker of the House received contradictory sets of electoral votes from the states of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida and an issue regarding a disputed elector...

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Posse Comitatus Act, June 18, 1878

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pp. 293-294

Now amended to include the United States Air Force and currently found in the United States Code Annotated at 18 U.S.C.A.§1385, this statute forms the basis of the tradition of prohibiting the use of the military forces within the United States in essentially police activities. This tradition can...

Chronology

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pp. 295-300

Selected Readings

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pp. 301-308

Index

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pp. 309-311


E-ISBN-13: 9781572339279
E-ISBN-10: 1572339276
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572338692
Print-ISBN-10: 1572338695

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Voices of the Civil War
Series Editor Byline: Peter Carmichael, Series Editor