The first session of the Thirty-ninth Congress, meeting from December 1865 to July 1866, was one of the most important in American history. Its work was summed up in the Fourteenth Amendment which effected a fundamental alteration in the character of the Constitution and which could have been enacted at no other time. In the course of its debates a number of other proposals were discussed which were to effect Southern society, sectional attitudes and racial relations in the United States. Decisions were taken in the course of a developing political crisis which imposed upon the American system of government the most severe test which it has ever endured, and raised inconvenient questions (which have since been left unanswered) about the capacity of American government to deal with a great national problem. There are several ways in which the history of this momentous session have been and could be studied: what is here proposed is to examine the evolution of policy as the result of a number of initiatives, originating from different parts of the political spectrum, each leaving its imprint upon the political situation, but none achieving its ultimate objective.
KeywordsSouthern State Republican Party Radical Initiative Road Earne Fourteenth Amendment
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.