13. War at Home
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313 ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 13 WAR AT HOME In the spirit of his campaign invocation, “Let Us Have Peace,” President Grant had entertained hopes for a relatively speedy end to Reconstruction . He had eased the readmission of the last of the former Confederate VWDWHV SUHVVHG IRU UDWLÀFDWLRQ RI WKH )LIWHHQWK $PHQGPHQW DQG HQdorsed enforcement legislation to uphold the right to vote. Yet continuing recalcitrance by southern whites demonstrated the need for more action. In his annual message in December 1870 Grant observed that “violence and intimidation” had marred the recent elections in several states and reversed “the verdict of the people.” He reiterated his commitment to “a pure, untrammeled ballot, where every man entitled to cast a vote may do so, just once at each election, without fear of molestation or proscription on account of his political faith, nativity, or color.”1 Republicans in Congress shared the president’s concern. Early in the session Oliver Morton sponsored a resolution requesting the president to provide any information he had about activities of the Ku Klux Klan and similar organizations in North Carolina, especially “murders and outrages for political purpose” committed by such groups.2 *UDQW UHVSRQGHG LQ WZR UHSRUWV 7KH ÀUVW SURYLGHG LQIRUPDWLRQ IURP :DU 'HSDUWPHQW ÀHOG R΀FHUV DERXW YLROHQFH QRW MXVW LQ 1RUWK Carolina but in the South in general. The twenty printed pages of abstracts cataloging murders and other outrages extending back several years presented a dismal picture of persistent lawlessness. In a second CHAPTER 13 314 report on January 17, 1871, the president focused on North Carolina, forwarding from Governor W. W. Holden a large body of correspondence, testimony, and other documents. Holden charged that an “organized conspiracy is in existence in every county of the State” and “unless active measures are taken the lives of its loyal citizens are no longer safe, DQGWKHLUOLEHUWLHVD>UH@DWKLQJRIWKHSDVWµ$WWKLVWLPH*UDQWDOVRKHOG a well-publicized meeting with national representatives of the Union League and vowed that the mission of the Republican Party would not EHÀQLVKHGXQWLOWKHIUHHH[HUFLVHRIWKHIUDQFKLVHZDVVHFXUHGIRUDOO3 Morton moved to refer both of Grant’s reports to a select commitWHH ZKLFKZRXOGDOVRFRQGXFWLWVRZQLQYHVWLJDWLRQRIDͿDLUVLQWKH South. In short order the Senate voted to create the committee, and John Scott of Pennsylvania, an administration loyalist, became its chairman.4 While Republicans felt growing alarm about the violation of voting rights, they rejected calls for a blanket amnesty that would remove the )RXUWHHQWK$PHQGPHQW·VEDQRQR΀FHKROGLQJE\IRUPHU&RQIHGHUDWH leaders. Congress did, however, regularly pass private acts releasing FHUWDLQ LQGLYLGXDOV VXFK DV IRUPHU JHQHUDOV DQG RWKHU KLJK R΀FLDOV from these so-called disabilities if they took an oath of future loyalty. In early 1871 Congress removed a political barrier for lower-level former Confederates as well. An 1862 law, still on the books, mandated that all individuals, including lifelong unionists as well as ex-Confederates, ZKRZHUHHOHFWHGRUDSSRLQWHGWRR΀FHXQGHUWKH86JRYHUQPHQWPXVW take a so-called test oath, swearing to both past and future loyalty. Former Confederates obviously could not take such an oath. In early February Congress passed a bill stating that ex-Confederates not covered E\WKH)RXUWHHQWK$PHQGPHQWFRXOGHQWHUR΀FHXSRQVZHDULQJRQO\ to future loyalty. This legislation troubled Grant, for rather than simply repealing the 1862 test oath altogether, it left that provision in place for everyone except these Confederate classes. “By this law,” the president told Congress, “the soldier who fought and bled for his country LVWRVZHDUWRKLVOR\DOW\EHIRUHDVVXPLQJR΀FLDOIXQFWLRQVZKLOHWKH general who commanded hosts for the overthrow of his Government LVDGPLWWHGWRSODFHZLWKRXWLW,FDQQRWD΀[P\QDPHWRDODZZKLFK discriminates against the upholder of his Government.” Yet Grant did QRWEHOLHYHLWZDV´ZLVHSROLF\WRNHHSIURPR΀FHE\DQRDWKWKRVHZKR DUHQRWGLVTXDOLÀHGE\WKH&RQVWLWXWLRQDQGZKRDUHWKHFKRLFHRIOHJDO voters,” and he let the bill become law without his signature. The 1862 test oath was not repealed in toto until 1884.5 While the Senate’s select committee pursued its investigation of WAR AT HOME 315 the South, Congress turned again to election fraud in northern cities. Grant’s comment in his annual message about casting a ballot “just RQFHµ UHÁHFWHG 5HSXEOLFDQV...


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