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[206] Sherman, you made the following reference to the terms proposed by him for the surrender of the forces of General Joseph Johnston and other commanders at the close of the civil war:

General Sherman believed in and sought to carry out the policy of Mr. Lincoln. The terms of surrender were tentative, and the conditions were entirely subject to the supervision of the executive authorities, but instead of being submitted to the generous and forgiving patriot who had fallen, they were passed upon in the shadow of a great crime by stern and relentless enemies, who would not have consented to the conditions imposed by General Grant upon General Lee, and who would have disregarded them had not General Grant threatened to resign upon their refusal to carry out his terms. When this arrangement with General Johnston was submitted to President Johnson and Mr. Stanton, it was rejected, with the insulting intimation that it proceeded from either cowardice or treachery. The old cry against General Sherman was again started. It was even imputed that he would attempt to play the part of a Cromwell or a military usurper. The generous kindness of Grant came to his relief. New terms were agreed upon and the war closed.

You would have it understood by this that while General Sherman was engaged in a praise-worthy and purely military act, which President Lincoln would have desired him to perform had he lived, he was sat upon and insulted, and his arrangements set aside by President Johnson and Edwin M. Stanton, then Secretary of War, in a mean and narrow spirit of revenge, because of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, and that at this juncture the generous kindness of General Grant interposed between him and these alleged enemies, and that the two Generals agreed on new terms and ended the war. You state all this as though you had approved General Sherman's course.

Whatever policy Mr. Lincoln might have recommended to Congress for the restoration of the Confederate States to their relations with the Union, none knew better than you that he never would have undertaken to usurp the powers of Congress on the subject, much less to allow a military subordinate to guide him in this work by an unauthorized arrangement made under the supervision of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. Mr. Lincoln left no room for doubt on this point, for he gave the following direction to General Grant a fortnight before the Sherman-Johnston negotiations:


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