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[277]

Chapter 52: President Johnson's reconstruction and further bureau legislation for 1866

President Johnson, by the inspiration and help of his Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, had succeeded before the meeting of Congress in December, 1865, in completely rehabilitating all the States that had belonged to the Southern Confederacy, so far as the form went. Apparently all the functions of Government, both State and National, were already reawakened and in operation. By taking the old State constitutions of 1861 and modifying them slightly to make them comply with the Thirteenth Amendment of the National Constitution, seemingly the problems of reconstruction were solved. Everything, for a time, to the late Confederates, was going on as they would have it. All those who had been for four years fighting against the United States were again in power at the State capitals, or so close behind those in office that they made themselves felt in every sort of legislation and act of administration. But the freedmen were left outside of all proper citizenship. They had no voice directly or indirectly in the new governments over them, and soon, worse than that, vicious laws were passed that made their actual condition deplorable. They were, indeed, but for military protection, which still lingered in the South, worse off than under the old system of slavery.

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