American Politics in the Times
June 13, 1866
Johnson opposes the Republican party of Congress which favors blacks, but in his opinion, act more according to their own interests. Radicals are aware that the adoption of their policies will bring an everlasting feud between the North and South.
How much force is added to this paragraph from the Times when we remember that this "superior race" has contributed more to the Union than their fellow-citi-zens of the Northern States ? That South, where this "superior race" alluded to resides, had, through her sons, directed the fate of the nation till near the time of the civil war. Their counsels, and their mental force, and energy, ever in the ascendant, carried the nation through the war of '76, and safely conducted it through every trial afterwards. They gave their time to agriculture, and to the science of politics, and art of war. They had little to do with commerce, and nothing to do with the horrid slave trade on the high seas, which the New England States conducted with energy for so many years. The very institution of slavery, which was the immediate cause of the war, was forced upon their ancestors by Great Britain when these States were her colonies. The magnitude of that institution was enlarged by the slave piracies of the New England States; and those States being considerably populated in that way with a race not suited to their climate, and not suited to their form of industry, relieved themselves and their consciences by transporting their slaves to the South and selling them to the southern planters. And it is this "superior race" that the northern Radical statesman and slanders as not...enough to take care of its own local affairs and treat the blacks with kindness and justice. A race not chargeable with the origin of slavery- never having stained its character by a participation in that most horrible traffic of the slave trade on the high seasand distinguished for its humanity and its wise and equitable administration of justice- it is such a race as this that the northern politicians are endeavoring to degrade : to convict of cruelty : to disfranchise ! But to recur to the Times: It says that Mr. Johnson, entertaining such views, necessarily encountered the opposition of the dominant party of Congress. A party "ostensibly in the interests of the negro, but obviously acting "to some extent for interests of its own." Assuming that the establishment of the proposed equality between the races would be impossible under any sort of political machinery, the Times says: "The Radicals know full well that the adoption of their policy would establish an everlasting feud between the two races in the south, but their desire to depress and humiliate the southerner is so strong that it governs their views of the entire question. They profess to expect that by special legislation and official agency they could protect and maintain the black in this artificial position against all the jealousy or hatred of the whites. Mr. Johnson replies that this is an impossibility; that the six millions of southern citizens must prevail against the cumbrous and uncertain section of a department, and that if the negro in the south is deprived of the sympathy and good will of the white population, he will, in the end, degenerate, die out, and disappear. The concluding paragraph of the Times's article contains the following truthful sentences: "It appears that the President has not only the balance of reason on his side, but the advantage of sincerity also. When Mr. Johnson states his views we do not suspect that he is influenced by any other motives than those which he avows. But as much cannot be said for the Radicals. We are not entitled to condemn them in a body, but their proceedings in Congress during the present session irresistibly suggest the conclusion that they are animated as much by the spirit of party as by any pure political principle. A question which would tax to the utmost the wisdom of the wisest government is thus debated on grounds with which wisdom has nothing to do, and one of the greatest problems of modern days is left to find its own solution in the accidents and chances of party conflict."
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“American Politics in the Times,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 28, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/212.