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[274] quickest results. Political considerations were superadded. The Republicans held some of the largest States at the North by narrow majorities, and were fearful of any division which would throw the balance against them. It was felt that any imprudent step might be followed by the return of the Democratic party to power—a party composed, at the North, largely of adherents whose loyalty had been uncertain, and, at the South, of the mass of the supporters of the rebellion. With that dreaded event would, as was believed, come the repudiation of the public debt, the oppression of the freedmen, and a loss of most that had been gained in the war. The objections to the President's course would not, it was felt, be apparent to the popular intelligence, and a conflict with him would be fatal to the party. Office-holders, anxious to retain their places, were loath to have a break with him, as also were candidates for elective offices, who shrank from the uncertain issue of a conflict with the head of the party. Besides such complexities, the problem of reconstruction, especially in view of the changed condition of the colored race, was itself a novel and strange one, involving a chaos of opinions and plans.

One of Sumner's friends, P. W. Chandler, writing Feb. 12, 1866, expressed the public feeling as follows:—

There is a very feverish dread in Boston, and I find the same here,1 of any breach with the President. It would be a terrible misfortune at this crisis to have a divided North, and especially to have the influence of the President thrown into the Democratic party. There was never a time when prudence and sagacity were so needed. If we cannot have all we need, we must take what we can get.

The conflict between Congress and the President, which Sumner had foreseen for several months to be inevitable, came finally, February 19, when he vetoed the bill to enlarge the powers of the Freedmen's Bureau, following it three days later with a ribald speech to a crowd gathered at the White House, in which he put the Republican leaders opposed to him (Sumner among them) on a footing with Davis, Tooombs, and Slidell, and exalted, as was his habit, his own personal career. The veto and the harangue marked a distinct step in his departure from the Republican party. Then came his veto, March 27, of the Civil Rights bill, and July 16, of the second Freedmen's Bureau bill—the

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