previous next

Latest News by mail.
President's message--General Grant's report.

In our telegraphic columns of yesterday was a very brief synopsis of President Johnson's message to the Senate, and General Grant's report to the President, both relative to the condition of the Southern States. In view of the great importance attached to these documents, we publish them this morning in full.

President's message.

To the Senate of the United States:
I reply to the resolution adopted by the Senate on the 12th instant. I have the honor to state that the rebellion waged by a portion of the people against the properly constituted authority of the Government of the United States has been suppressed; that the United States are in possession of every State in which the insurrection existed, and that, as far as it could be done, the courts of the United States have been restored, post-offices re-established, and steps taken to put into effective operation the revenue laws of the country.

As the result of the measures instituted by the Executive, with the view of inducing a resumption of the functions of the States comprehended in the inquiry of the Senate, the people of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee have reorganized their respective State governments, and "are yielding obedience to the laws and Government of the United States" with more willingness and greater promptitude than under the circumstances could reasonably have been anticipated. The proposed amendment of the Constitution, providing for the abolition of slavery forever within the limits of the country, has been ratified by each one of those States, with the exception of Mississippi, from which no official information has been received, and in nearly all of them measures have been adopted, or are now pending, to confer upon freedmen the privileges which are essential to their comfort, protection and security. In Florida and Texas the people are making commendable progress in restoring their State governments, and no doubt is entertained that they will, at an early period, be in a condition to resume all of their practical relations with the General Government.

In "that portion of the Union lately in rebellion," the aspect of affairs is more promising than, in view of all the circumstances, could well have been expected. The people throughout the entire South evince a laudable desire to renew their allegiance to the Government, and to repair the devastations of war by a prompt and cheerful return to peaceful pursuits, and abiding faith is entertained that their actions will conform to their professions, and that in acknowledging the supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States their loyalty will be unreservedly given to the Government whose leniency they cannot fail to appreciate, and whose fostering care will soon restore them to a condition of prosperity. It is true that in some of the States the demoralizing effects of the war are to be seen in occasional disorders; but these are local in character, not frequent in occurrence, and are rapidly disappearing as the authority of civil law is extended and sustained. Perplexing questions are naturally to be expected from the great and sudden change in the relations between the two races; but systems are gradually developing themselves under which the freedman will receive the protection to which he is justly entitled and, by means of his labor, make himself a useful and independent member of the community in which he has a home.

From all the information in my possession, and from all that which I have recently derived from the most reliable authority, I am induced to cherish the belief that sectional animosity is surely and rapidly merging itself into a spirit of nationality, and that representation, connected with a properly-adjusted system of taxation, will result in a harmonious restoration of the relation of the States to the National Union.

The report of Carl Schurz is herewith transmitted, as requested by the Senate. No reports from the Hon. John Covode have been received by the President. The attention of the Senate is invited to the accompanying report from Lieutenant-General Grant, who recently made a tour of inspection through several of the States whose inhabitants participated in the rebellion.

Andrew Johnson.
Washington, December 18, 1865.

General Grant's report.

armies of the United States.

Washington, D. C., December 18, 1865.
His Excellency A. Johnson, President of the United States:

--In reply to your note of the 16th instant, requesting a report from me, giving such information as I may be possessed of, coming within the scope of the inquiries made by the Senate of the United States in their resolution of the 12th instant, I have the honor to submit the following:

With your approval and also that of the honorable Secretary of War. I left Washington city on the 27th of last month for the purpose of making a tour of inspection through some of the Southern States, or States Lately in rebellion, and to see what changes were necessary to be made in the disposition of the military forces of the country, how these forces could be reduced, and expenses curtailed, etc., and to learn as far as possible the feelings and intentions of the citizens of those States towards the General Government. The State of Virginia being so accessible to Washington city, and information from this quarter, therefore, being readily obtained, I hastened through the State without conversing or meeting with any of its citizens. In Raleigh, North Carolina, I spent one day; in Charleston, South Carolina, two days: Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, each one day. Both in travelling and whilst stopping, I saw much and conversed freely with the citizens of those States, as well as with officers of the army who have been stationed among them. The following are the conclusions come to by me:

I am satisfied that the mass of thinking men of the South accept the present situation of affairs in good faith. The questions which have heretofore divided the sentiments of the people of the two sections — slavery and State rights, or the right of a State to secede from the Union--they regard as having been settled forever by the highest tribunal — arms — that man can resort to. I was pleased to learn from the leading men whom I met that they not only accepted the decision arrived at as final, but that now the smoke of battle has cleared away, and time has been given for reflection, that this decision has been a fortunate one for the whole country, they receiving the like benefits from it with those who opposed them in the field and in the cause.

Four years of war, during which law was executed only at the point of the bayonet throughout the States in rebellion, have left the people, possibly, in condition not to yield that ready obedience to civil authority the American people have generally been in the habit of yielding. This would render the presence of small garrisons throughout those States necessary until such time as labor returns to its proper channel and civil authority is fully established. I did not meet any one, either those holding places under the Government or citizens of the Southern States, who think it practicable to withdraw the military from the South at present. The white and the black mutually require the protection of the General Government.

There is such universal acquiescence in the authority of the General Government throughout the portions of the country visited by me that the mere presence of a military force, without regard to numbers, is sufficient to maintain order. The good of the country and economy require that the force kept in the interior, where there are many freedmen, (elsewhere in the Southern States, than at forts upon the sea coast, no force is necessary) should all be white troops. The reasons for this are obvious, without mentioning any of them. The presence of black troops, lately slaves, demoralizes labor, both by their advice, and by furnishing in their camps a resort for the freedmen for long distances around.--White troops generally excite no opposition, and, therefore, a small number of them can maintain order in a given district. Colored troops must be kept in bodies sufficient to defend themselves. It is not the thinking men who would use violence towards any class of troops sent among them by the General Government, but the ignorant in some places might; and the late slave seems to be imbued with the idea that the property of his late master should by right belong to him — at least, should have no protection from the colored soldiers. There is danger of collisions being brought on by such causes.

My observations lead me to the conclusion that the citizens of the Southern States are anxious to return to self-government within the Union as soon as possible; that whilst reconstructing, they want and require protection from the Government; that they are in earnest in wishing to do what they think is required by the Government — not humiliating to them as citizens — and that if such a course was pointed out, they would pursue it in good faith. It is to be regretted that there cannot be a greater commingling at this time between the citizens of the two sections, and particularly of those entrusted with the law-making power.

I did not give the operations of the Freedmen's Bureau that attention I would have done if more time had been at my disposal. Conversations on the subject, however, with officers connected with the Bureau lead me to think that in some of the States its affairs have not been conducted with good judgment or economy, and that the belief, widely spread among the freedmen of the Southern States, that the lands of their former owners will, at least, in part, be divided among them, has come from the agents of this Bureau. This belief is seriously interfering with the willingness of the freedmen to make contracts for the coming year. In some form, the Freedmen's Bureau is an absolute necessity until civil law is established and enforced, securing to the freedmen their rights and full protection. At present, however, it is independent of the military establishment of the country, and seems to be operated by the different agents of the Bureau according to their individual notions. Everywhere General Howard, the able head of the Bureau, made friends by the just and fair instructions and advice he gave; but the complaint in South Carolina was, that when he left, things went on as before. Many, perhaps the majority of the agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, advise the freedmen that by their own industry they must expect to live. To this end they endeavor to secure employment for them, and to see that both contracting parties comply with their engagements. In some instances, I am sorry to say, the freedman's mind does not seem to be disabused of the idea that the freedman has a right to live without care or provision for the future. The effect of the belief in division of land is idleness and accumulation in camps, towns, and cities. In such cases I think it will be found that vice and disease will tend to the extermination or great reduction of the colored race. It cannot be expected that the opinions held by men at the South for years can be changed in a day, and therefore the freedmen require for a few years not only laws to protect them, but the fostering care of those who will give them good counsel, and in whom they rely.

The Freedmen's Bureau, being separated from the military establishment of the country, acquires all the expense of a separate organization. One does not necessarily know what the other is doing, or what order they are acting under. It seems to me this could be corrected by regarding every officer on duty with troops in the Southern States as agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, and then have all orders from the head of the Bureau sent through department commanders. This would create a responsibility that would secure uniformity of action throughout the South, would insure the orders and instructions from the head of the Bureau being carried out, and would relieve from duty and pay a large number of employees of the Government.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
U. S. Grant (5)
Andrew Johnson (3)
White (1)
Carl Schurz (1)
Howard (1)
John Covode (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
December 18th, 1865 AD (2)
12th (2)
27th (1)
16th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: