The Sequel of Appomattox


Grant's opinion was short and direct: "I am satisfied that the mass of thinking men of the South accept the present situation of affairs in good faith....The citizens of the Southern States are anxious to return to self-government within the Union as soon as possible." Truman came to the conclusion that "the rank and file of the disbanded Southern army...are the backbone and sinew of the South....To the disbanded regiments of the rebel army, both officers and men, I look with great confidence as the best and altogether the most hopeful element of the South, the real basis of reconstruction and the material of worthy citizenship." General John Tarbell, before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, testified that "there are, no doubt, disloyal and disorderly persons in the South, but it is an entire mistake to apply these terms to a whole people.I would as soon travel alone, unarmed, through the South as through the North.The South I left is not at all the South I hear and read about in the North.From the sentiment I hear in the North, I would scarcely recognize the people I saw, and, except their politics, I liked so well.I have entire faith that the better classes are friendly to the Negroes."Carl Schurz on the other hand was not so favorably impressed."The loyalty of the masses and most of the leaders of the southern people," he said, "consists in submission to necessity.There is, except in individual instances, an entire absence of that national spirit which forms the basis of true loyalty and patriotism." Another government official in Florida was quite doubtful of the Southern whites."I would pin them down at the point of the bayonet," he declared, "so close that they would not have room to wiggle, and allow intelligent colored people to go up and vote in preference to them.The only Union element in the South among the colored people.The whites will treat you very kindly to your face, but they are deceitful.I have often thought, and so expressed myself, that there is so much deception among the people of the South since the rebellion, that if an earthquake should open and swallow them up, I was fearful that the devil would be dethroned and some of them take his place."The point of view of the Confederate military leaders was exhibited by General Wade Hampton in a letter to President Johnson and by General Lee in his advice to Governor Letcher of Virginia.General Hampton wrote: "The South unequivocally 'accepts the situation' in which she is placed.Everything that she has done has been done in perfect faith, and in the true and highest sense of the word, she is loyal.By this I mean that she intends to abide by the laws of the land honestly, to fulfill all her obligations faithfully and to keep her word sacredly, and I assert that the North has no right to demand more of her.You have no right to ask, or expect that she will at once profess unbounded love to that Union from which for four years she tried to escape at the cost of her best blood and all her treasures." General Lee in order to set an example applied through General Grant for a pardon under the amnesty proclamation and soon afterwards he wrote to Governor Letcher: "All should unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war, and to restore the blessings of peace.They should remain, if possible, in the country; promote harmony and good-feeling; qualify themselves to vote; and elect to the State and general legislatures wise and patriotic men, who will devote their abilities to the interests of the country and the healing of all dissensions;I have invariably recommended this course since the cessation of hostilities, and have endeavored to practice it myself."Southerners of the Confederacy everywhere, then, accepted the destruction of slavery and the renunciation of state sovereignty; they welcomed an early restoration of the Union, without any punishment of leaders of the defeated cause.But they were proud of their Confederate records though now legally "loyal" to the United States; they considered the Negro as free but inferior, and expected to be permitted to fix his status in the social organization and to solve the problem of free labor in their own way.To *embarrass the easy and permanent realization of these views there was a society disrupted, economically prostrate, deprived of its natural leaders, subjected to a control not always wisely conceived nor effectively exercised, and, finally, containing within its own population unassimilated elements which presented problems fraught with difficulty and danger.

Walter Lynwood Fleming