Grant and the South after the War.
the policy initiated at Appomattox
was steadily maintained by Grant
He became no more vindictive after the murder of Lincoln
, nor did he shrink from the application of his own principles because they were carried further by Sherman
than he thought advisable.
The new President
was anxious to treat ‘traitors’ harshly; he disliked the paroles that Grant
had accorded to Lee
and his soldiers, and steps were soon taken with his approval to procure the indictment of Lee
at once appealed to General Grant
His first communication was verbal, and was made through Mr. Reverdy Johnson
, who acted as the legal adviser of Lee
; he came to see me to learn Grant
I ascertained that Grant
was firm in his determination to stand by his own terms, and so informed Mr. Johnson
, however, thought that Lee
should go through the form of applying for pardon, in order to indicate his complete submission.
, though entirely willing to make the application, was anxious to be assured in advance that Grant
would formally approve it. General Ord
, then in command in Richmond
, made known this feeling of Lee
, through General Ingalls
, and Grant
directed me to assure Mr. Reverdy Johnson
of his readiness to indorse Lee
's application favorably.
forwarded two papers of the same date, one an application for pardon in the prescribed form, and the other a statement of the proposed indictment and of his own belief that he was protected
against such action by his parole.
indorsed both of these documents, the first with an earnest recommendation that the pardon should be granted, the second with a distinct declaration that the officers and men paroled at Appomattox
could not be tried for treason so long as they observed the terms of their paroles.
He went in person to discuss these papers with the President
But Andrew Johnson
was not satisfied; he wanted, he said, ‘to make treason odious.’
‘When can these men be tried?’
‘Never,’ said Grant
, ‘unless they violate their paroles.’
The President still insisted, and his Attorney-General
wrote an official letter opposing Grant
declared that he would resign his commission in the army unless the terms he had granted were confirmed.
I remember well the day when this occurred.
He returned from the Cabinet chamber
to his own headquarters and described the interview.
When he recited his language he added:
‘And I will keep my word.
I will not stay in the army if they break the pledges that I made.’
Then the resolution of the President
gave way, for he found a will more stubborn, or at least more potent with the people, than his own, and orders were issued to discontinue the proceedings against Lee
The great antagonists met only once after the scenes at Appomattox Court House.
It was in May, 1869, soon after the first inauguration of Grant
was in Washington
about some business connected with railroads, and thought it his duty to call on the President
He was received in the Cabinet chamber
when no one was present but Mr. Motley
, who had been recently appointed Minister to England
both described the interview to me. Motley
said both men were simple and dignified, but he thought there was a shade of constraint in the manner of Lee
was indeed always inclined to be more formal than the Northern
The former enemies shook hands; Grant
to be seated, and presented Motley
The interview was short, and all that Grant
could remember afterward was that they spoke of building railroads, and he said playfully to Lee
‘You and I, General, have had more to do with destroying railroads than building them.’
refused to smile, or to recognize the raillery.
He went on gravely with the conversation, and no other reference was made to the past.
soon arose, and the soldiers parted, not to meet again until their mighty shades saluted each other in that region where conquerors and conquered alike lay down their arms.
Scores of Southern officers besides Lee
applied to Grant
for protection, and literally hundreds of civilians who wished to avail themselves of the amnesty requested his favorable indorsement.
It was my duty to examine these applications and lay them before him; and seldom indeed was one refused.
General J. Kirby Smith
, in command west of the Mississippi
, did not surrender with the other armies in rebellion, and even when his forces yielded he fled to Mexico
But in a month or two he wrote to Grant
, applying to be placed on the same footing with those who had surrendered earlier.
thereupon obtained the assurance of the President
that if Smith
would return and take the prescribed oath, he should be treated exactly as if he had surrendered and been paroled.
In September, 1865, Alexander Stephens
, the VicePres-ident of the Southern Confederacy, appealed to General Grant
in the following letter from Fort Warren
in Boston Harbor
, where he was imprisoned, asking for his release on parole or bail.
This was soon afterward granted.
In December of the same year Mrs. Jefferson Davis
applied to Grant
by letter, and in May, 1866, she went in person to Washington
to ask his influence in procuring a remission of some of the penalties imposed upon her husband, and Grant
did use his influence, not indeed to obtain the release of the prisoner, but to mitigate the hardships of his confinement.
's letter and messages were conveyed through me; the letter was full of respect for the conqueror, acknowledgments of his clemency, and touching appeals for further mercy.
‘All know you ever,’ she said, ‘as good as well as great, merciful as well as brave.’
‘Make me,’ she concluded, ‘your respectful friend.’
The vindictive feeling of President Johnson
continued for months, and only Grant
's interposition preserved the good faith of the Government
, or rescued many, civilians as well as soldiers, from imprisonment and pecuniary ruin; for he urged the restoration of their property as well as the remission of personal penalties.
In consequence there grew up toward Grant
a remarkable feeling at the South
accompanied him in November, 1865, when he made a tour through Virginia
and South Carolina
, and Tennessee
, to investigate and report upon the condition and feeling of the population.
Everywhere he was received with the greatest respect by those who had regarded him the year before as the chief of their adversaries.
The Governors of States and Mayors of cities instantly called on him; the most prominent soldiers and private citizens paid their respects.
State Legislatures invited him to their chambers, suspended their sessions, and rose to greet him formally as he entered.
The man who had done most to subdue the South
was universally recognized as its protector and savior from further suffering.
This feeling was not purely personal.
It contributed to create a loyal and submissive disposition.
On the 18th of December, at the conclusion of his tour, Grant
reported to the President
that ‘the mass of thinking men of the South
accepted the situation in good faith’; and while he recommended that a strong military force should still be retained in the Southern States
, he declared his belief that ‘the citizens of that region are anxious to return to self-government within the Union
as soon as possible.’
This document Charles Sumner
denounced in the Senate as a ‘whitewashing’ report.
The statesman did not concur with the conqueror in believing the South
Before long Sumner
was in favor of remitting restrictions which Grant
wished to retain.
For General Grant
believed that the feeling of the South
after this epoch underwent a change; and in consequence his judgment changed as to the treatment the South
But his sentiment at the close of the war is better expressed in a letter he wrote to Mrs. Grant
than in any formal document.
On the 24th of April, 1865, General Grant
arrived at Sherman
's headquarters in North Carolina
, having been sent from Washington
by the government to annul the convention
He at once directed Sherman
to discontinue all civil negotiations and demand the surrender of Johnston
on the same terms that had been allowed to Lee
. While he waited for Johnston
's reply, Grant
wrote the following letter to his wife, which Mrs. Grant
gave me as a relic twenty years ago:
This letter was written eleven days after the assassination of Lincoln
disapproved of Sherman
's terms as absolutely as Stanton
or the President
; he had just revoked all negotiations for civil conditions, and insisted on the absolute military submission of the enemy; but he was full of pity for the people of the South
, and had only harsh rebuke for the rancor that would inflict further suffering.
He turned from war and its horrors to the spreading oaks of Raleigh
for relief, and while waiting the answer to his inexorable summons sent love and kisses to his wife and ‘the children.’