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[614]

Meantime Congress had passed an act known as the Civil Rights Bill, and a case came before the Circuit Court, at Alexandria, in which one of the parties offered to produce negro evidence. The Judge (Thomas) ruled that, inasmuch as the state laws of Virginia forbade the introduction of negro testimony in civil suits to which white men alone were parties, the evidence of the negro was inadmissible; that Congressional legislation could not impair the right of the states to decide what classes of persons were competent to testify in her courts.

A storm was now brewing which was soon to involve the President and Congress in open conflict. The reader will remember that, during the period in which these proceedings took place in Virginia, similar ones occurred in all the remaining Confederate states. Not only in Virginia, but in several of the other states, some persons had been voted for as members of Congress, but in no case had they been admitted to seats. This was one of the measures taken by Congress to indicate its disapproval of the President's plan for the treatment of the late Confederate States.

The difficulties that now arose between the President and Congress had reference entirely to the affairs of the Confederate States. The plan of the President left the negroes to the care of the states alone after the establishment of their emancipation. Congress desired them to be made American citizens, secure in all the rights of freemen and voters. The refusal to admit Senators and Representatives to Congress from the Confederate States served to arrest the operation of the President's plans to hold these states in abeyance.

No compromise could be made between the two. Each appealed to the Constitution, forgetful that each had sustained all its ruthless violations during the last four years. Congress, therefore, commenced an independent action, and in its reckless course sought unsuccessfully to rid itself of the President by impeachment. Its first act, at the commencement of the session in December, 1865, was the appointment, by a large majority in each house, of a joint committee of fifteen, to which were referred all questions relating to the conditions and manner in which Congress would recognize the late Confederate States as members of the Union. Meantime the credentials of all persons sent as Representatives and Senators from them were laid upon the table in each house, there to remain until the final action of the committee of fifteen. This was followed by the passage, in February, 1866, of ‘an act to establish a bureau for the relief of freedmen, refugees, and abandoned lands.’ It proposed to establish military jurisdiction over all parts of the United

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