THE CONFLICT AT WASHINGTON.
-filHE view taken in. England of President Johnson and his recent quarrel with the majority in Congress, is probably wider astray from that warranted by the facts of the case than that of any critical American event since the outbreak of the -war. There are several reasons for this,—one, that the vulgar and inflammatory speech in which the President denounced the radicals and accused them of intending his assassination was never printed in full in any English paper, was panegyrized most by those who did not dare to print it at all, and but _faintly rebuked even by the most Liberal of all the English journals, which only published about half, and that not con- taining a full half of the wildest and most unworthy matter ; .another, that the Daily News, which hitherto has been far the wisest, soundest, and most thoroughly informed of all the English critics of American politics, has become, for some intellectual crotchet which we cannot explain, almost the .mere advocate of the President,—though of course an advocate profoundly convinced of the truth of its own case,—and has Ceased to our mind to square its judgments with the facts of the case. Add to this that Mr. Johnson's policy bas in it a first appearance of generosity to a van- -quished foe, that Mr. Stevens and the other Radical leaders, though far fairer and less violent in their language than _Mr. Johnson, have been often silly and intemperate, that the full evidence as to the condition of the South and the condi- lion of opinion in the Western States is never reproduced in the English journals, and we are not surprised to find the public mind more prejudiced, because more completely unin- formed, upon the present political crisis in ,America than it has been on any of the American embarrassments of the last six years: Indeed the false issue so pertinaciously -asserted to be the true one by Englishmen at the com- mencement of the war,—the issue of Protection versus Free Trade,—and never better exposed than by the Daily News of five years ago, has been deliberately adopted by it this week as accounting in great part for the Republican hostility to the President's policy of reconstruction,—the motive being of course that it is the interest of the Eastern States, which .are all violently Protectionist, to keep out the Southern States, which are nearly unanimous for free trade, until the financial policy of the future. Union has been once firmly fixed. We confess that we are surprised to find this argument in the Daily News, when the truth unquestionably is that the Western States are quite as averse to the policy of Protection as the South, and for the same obvious reason, that they have no manufactures, and are great producers of the raw materials which Europe needs,—and yet that nowhere, not even in Ku- .sachusetts, have the Radical party in Congress been so warmly supported in their opposition to the President as in Wisconsin and Iowa, where the State Legislatures have gone so far as to pass votes condemning the President's policy by enormous majorities,—majorities of two to one,—and supporting those of -their own Congress men who have remained firm to their principles. We are persuaded that as a rule this plausible -trick of accounting for the deeper differences on high political .questions by selfish motives is founded in a complete miscon- ception of the weight of political feeling. Bad tariffs cause .revolutions sometimes no doubt, but where they do, their .advocates do not try to disguise their motives under the form of a battle against slavery, or their opponents to plead State rights instead ,of Free Trade. The hatred of slavery now heartily unites the North-West and North-East, while the minor tariff question tends to divide them, and,—so much .greater is the cementing power of the higher principle,—fails.
The real issue between the President and the Radical Re- publicans is, we believe, a vital one. The President, under the influence of his old Democratic principles, wishes to let both the South and the Union reconstruct itself. He desires to see the Southern State Legislatures,--;all, excepting only that .of Tennessee, consisting of men hostile, without exception, to =the North, and still more hostile to the civil rights of the , negro freedmen,—restored at once to their full powers ; he would permit them, unopposed except by the feeble machinery .of the present Freedmen's Bureau, to enact formally the most stringent negro vagrant laws, and to refuse the education to . the negroes which the Freedmen's Bureau has hitherto given; ,and he would do all this on the plea of the sacredness of self- government, forgetting in the depth of his old Southern pre- judices that the deapotic government of one race over another is not self-government in any sense of the word. More than this, he not only would permit, but even demands, the immedi- ate admission of deputies from all the rebellious States to Con-
gress,—deputies themselves disaffected to the Union, chosen for that disaffection, and chosen, moreover, on a constitutional law which greatly increases their number in virtue 'of the very negro population whom they not only do not represent but whose interests they are chosen to oppose. Mr. Johnson wishes to see the small party of Northern democrats re-en- forced by the large party of Southern democrats, who would no sooner be in Congress than any further protection by Congress of the freedmen of the South,—and probably also of the interests of the. Union there,—would become impossible. And all this Mr. Johnson wishes, sincerely,-we believe, on the formal ground that the old machinery prescribed by the Con- stitution must be put in force as soon as States and represen- tatives can be got to profess lip-loyalty to the old regime. Such is the President's view,—a view radically based upon the idea that, as the Southern States' machinery answered very decently before the rebellion,—for to Mr. Johnson's mind the existence of slavery was only a blot so far as it endangered Union,—it is not likely to answer worse now, when the climax has come, the blow has been struck, and has failed.
On the other hand, the Radicals assert that to reconstruct either the Southern State Legislatures or Congress by the mere formal application of constitutional doctrine to a society in a flame of hatred both against its conquerors and its former victims, is simply as mad as to heap up to dry near a blazing fire gunpowder still wet with the very water which extin- guished the powder mill's conflagration. They assert that it is idle first to lavish life and money on a gigantic war, and then to beg their opponents to take back their former advahtages and build up the old rivalries strengthened by the bitter- ness of defeat, once more. They appeal to the evidence given by all the new Southern vagrant ' laws, which are practi- cally laws establishing a most oppressive serfdom, that the spirit of caste is as virulent as ever in the South, and far more personally virulent against the negroes than before, because their value as property is lost. They cite the opinion of General after General that the South is still engaged in widespread conspiracies—called Historic Societies,' and what not----which, if they could but get the opportunity of any foreign war, would burst out again into a new secession. They quote the speeches of the Southern candidates for Congress, who do not scruple to advocate the repudiation of the national war debt. And they ask whether it is the part of reasonable men to establish in supreme authority in the various States, govern- ments so hostile to the only loyal—the negro-portion of the population ; and also to invite back into their full influence in Congress men who will do their best to destroy the credit of the Union or to foment its enmities with foreign States.
We confess the logical position of the Radicals seems to us quite unanswerable ; and the sort of evidence on which they rely is not doubtful or weak, but positively swarms. Let us just quote a little to show its nature rather than its strength,—which last we could not do if we devoted a whole paper to the task. Major-General Thomas, the victor of Nashville, is a Conserva- tive in politics, and not a Radical. He has long commanded in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. He wishes the Tennessee deputies readmitted to Congress, though he opposes, as in the highest degree dangerous, the recall of the troops even from Tennessee. And the following are his own words to the reconstruction Committee :— " There is an understanding among the Rebels, and perhaps organizations formed or forming, for the purpose of gaining as many advantages for themselves as possible; and I have heard it also intimated that these men were very anxious and. would do all in their power to involve the United States in a foreign war, so that if a favourable opportunity should offer they might turn against the United States. I do not think they will ever again attempt an outbreak on their own account, because they all admit that they had a fair trial in the late rebellion and got thoroughly worsted. There is no doubt but what there is a universal disposition among the rebels in the South to embarrass the Government in its administration, if they can, so as to gain as many advantagei for themselves as possible."
His evidence is confirmed by witness after witness as conserva- tive and moderate as himself. General Grierson, who has been in the South almost ever since Lee's surrender, not only con- firms this, but says that, except in Tennessee, the feeling is far less favourable, far more inclined to organize new revolt, than at the time of General Lee's surrender. The sense of exhaustion is partly relieved ; the hope of revenge is far stronger than before :—" I think that instead of growing more willing to accept the situation, they are-showing a more intense feeling of bitterness toward the Government. I speak of leading men more particulatly." "I think," he adds, "that every Con- gressman elected in the State of Alabama was elected by reason of his devotion to the cause of the rebellion. Some of them served at Richmond as Congressmen, and others as officers in'the rebel army, but in no case that I know of was a loyal man elected. The truly loyal people of Alabama do not wish the present elected Congressmen and Senators from that State admitted into Congress." Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Hunter 13rooke confirmed this by saying that he did not know of "one loyal newspaper" in all Alabama. General Grierson also said that the attempt, so much favoured by the President, to reorganize the State militia, is nothing but the reorganization of the Confederate Army, in State detachments. He said that in Alabama the State authorities had congratulated themselves greatly on their success in getting General Thomas to with- draw the United States' troops, that the militia system was immediately organized by the provisional governor to sup- plant them, that every officer who received commissions in the militia was an officer of the old Confederate Army, and that no Northerner or Unionist had the remotest chance of such an appointment. Further, General Grierson has no doubt that an election now would produce men far more hostile to the Union than even four months ago. There was a disposition then to pink out men 'for Office as little objectionable to the Unionists as possible, but since Mr. Johnson has headed the party, the old fierce feeling has come out again uncontrolled :- "I think that if another election were held for Congressmen and Senators, they would elect men who are even stronger in their sentiments Tor the South and against the Government than those heretofore elected. They did in some cases try to pick men who would not be objectionable in every respect. They think that theee men now would be objectionable to the Southern people. I infer this from a great many things. For instance, all employes of railroads, telegraphs, and express companies who were loyal to the Government, are having their heads cut off. ,and their places filled by sympathizers with the Rebellion. Many of them were heretofore officers in the Rebel service. At the time of the sur- render, and even after, they manifested a disposition rather to diiidethis thing, but that is entirely changed."
This is surely very remarkable evidence, and it is supported by the testimonies of almost all the Unionists who know the South. Then as to the freedmen, we need not rely on the numberless accounts of open murder, seizure and sale of them to Cuba, re-enslavement under the vagrant laws, and the rest ; the open profession of the planters is that, while they will not admit the rights of freedmen, they do feel themselves relieved from all the responsibility they formerly felt for them as their property. Their language is now, " Government freed you, and now let Government take care of you," their own part being avowedly to foil Government in taking care of them as completely as they can,—by persuading the President where they can, by disobeying and defying him where they must. But apart from personal testimony as to feelings the facts are sufficient. In Louisiana, for which with the other States tee President demands immediate admittance to Congress, the Legislature.just adjourned was all but entirely composed of men who were a few months ago in arms against the Government. The Courts charged the grand juries " that it was treason to ad- vocate equal suffrage." The militia force is officered entirely by officers of the Confederate Army. The schools for the freed- men have been shut up all over the State, but these poor freed-. men are being taxed to support the mean white schools from which they are excluded. Union men are openly taxed for loyalty to the Union, and imprisoned for it. The blacks are forbidden by law to move between plantation and plantation, and if transgressing the law are re-enslaved under criminal statutes.
Such is the state Of things which Mr. Johnson's policy has promoted, and the natural development of which into either a new secession, or a servile war, or both, his policy is still promoting. 'Any one who considers the evidence carefully will not be surprised that in spite of those financial differences which separate North-West and North-Bast, they -should unite to resist the insanely constitutional course,—con- stitutional in `form, 'utterly unconstitutional in spirit,—on which the President, with his narrow democratic formula, is so firmly embarking. We believe that their -verdict will in the 'end be distinct enough to over-ride even that iron- 'minded, short-sighted, Southern Unionist himself, and that England will have to confess for about the dozenth time in the last fa* years that she has judged by hasty prejudices, instead 'of 'on 'a calm review of the real evidence, what are the real nines and the real merits of the conflicting autho- rities at Washington. We -do not speak as mere friends of "the negro,--Mt as politicians, looking at the general issue. Fortunately for the world the plain claims of justice and of statesmanlike policy are usually joined together 'by a power which men strive in vain to defeat when they would willingly- put them asunder.