I am willing to discharge, to the best of my ability, any duty which may properly devolve upon me. Yet if a policy so opposed to my views as that proposed by Mr. Chase is to be adopted, I respectfully suggest that I am not the proper person to carry it out. If, however, after knowing my views fully, it be desired that I execute the President's wishes, would it not be well for me to have a personal interview with him, in order that I may fully understand his plan and the principles upon which it is founded?The fundamental principles of my suggestion were: First. The Constitution and laws as they were before secession, modified to embrace the legitimate results of the war—namely, national integrity and universal freedom. Second. Intelligent suffrage, to be regulated by the States themselves; and Third. Military governments, in the absence of popular civil governments, as being the only lawful substitute, under our system, for a government by the people during their temporary inability, from whatever cause, to govern themselves. But these constitutional methods were rejected. First came the unauthorized system of ‘provisional’ governors, civilians without any shadow of lawful authority for their appointments, and their abortive attempts at ‘reconstruction.’ Next the Fourteenth Amendment, disfranchising nearly all the trusted leaders of the Southern people, and then the ‘iron-clad oath,’ universal enfranchisement of the ignorant blacks, and ‘carpet-bag’ governments, with all their offensive consequences. If wise statesmanship instead of party passion had ruled the hour, how easily could those twelve years of misrule in the South, and consequent disappointment and shame among its authors in the North, have been avoided!
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