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AFTER THE WAR.
ONLY five days after Appomattox the joy of the nation was changed to mourning and to horror by the savage assassination of the kindly and benign President, who had borne in his own heart so much of the sorrows, the anxieties, and the griefs of the people throughout the terrible struggle just brought to a fortunate conclusion. On the 25th of April General Hancock, in whose military division Washington lay, was ordered to establish his headquarters in that city, and was directed to consider himself “specially charged with the security of the capital, the public archives and the public property therein, and with the necessary protection to the President, the officers of the Government, and the loyal citizens.” In that time of suspense and dread no officer's coming could have brought more relief to the overstrained feelings of the country or given stronger assurance of order. It was under his firm command that the accomplices of President Lincoln's assassin
were brought to trial, convicted, and executed.
On July 30, 1865, the Middle Military Division was abolished and the Middle Military Department was constituted, with Hancock in command, headquarters being in Baltimore. On July 26, 1866, Hancock received his appointment as major general in the regular army. The month following he was sent to command the Department of the Missouri, with headquarters at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In the fall of that year began the trouble with the turbulent and warlike Cheyennes, with whom were associated the Kiowas and the Arapahoes. The depredations and outrages of these tribes, irritated by the progress of the Pacific Railroad, increased during the winter of 1866–67 until travel across the plains was nearly suspended. In March of the latter year Hancock moved from Fort Riley with a force of all arms about fourteen hundred strong, reaching Fort Larned, near the Arkansas River, in April. It was hoped by this demonstration to overawe the discontented and prevent the spread of insurrection. But by this time the Indians of the plains had become very generally involved in hostilities. No decisive action took place prior to September, when Hancock, by order of the President, proceeded to New Orleans to assume command of the Fifth Military District, comprising Louisiana and Texas.
It was while in command at New Orleans that Hancock came into collision with those who were directing the course of reconstruction in the lately
insurgent States. The following is the text of the celebrated General Order No. 40, with which he assumed his new command: “HEADQUARTERS, FIFTH MILITARY DISTRICT, “NEw ORLEANs, L.A., Movember 29, 1867. “General Orders No. 40. “I. In accordance with General Orders No. 81, Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General's Of- fice, Washington, D.C., August 27, 1867, Major-General W. S. Hancock hereby assumes command of the Fifth Military District and of the department composed of the States of Louisiana and Texas. “II. The general commanding is gratified to learn that peace and quiet reign in this department. It will be his purpose to preserve this condition of things. As a means to this great end he requires the maintenance of the civil authorities and the faithful execution of the laws as the most efficient under existing circumstances. “In war it is indispensable to repel force by force, to overthrow and destroy opposition to lawful authority; but when insurrectionary force has been overthrown and peace established, and the civil authorities are ready and willing to perform their duties, the military power should cease to lead and the civil administration resume its natural and rightful dominion. Solemnly impressed with these views, the general announces that the great principles of American liberty are still the inheritance
of this people, and ever should be. The right of trial by jury, the habeas corpus, the liberty of the press, the freedom of speech, the natural rights of persons, and the rights of property must be preserved. “Free institutions, while they are essential to the prosperity and happiness of the people, always furnish the strongest inducements to peace and order. Crimes and offenses committed in this district must be left to the consideration and judgment of the regular civil tribunals, and those tribunals will be supported in their lawful jurisdiction. “Should there be violations of existing laws which are not inquired into by the civil magistrates, or should failures in the administration of justice be complained of, the cases will be reported to these headquarters, when such orders may be made as may be deemed necessary. “While the general thus indicates his purpose to respect the liberties of the people, he wishes all to understand that armed insurrection or forcible resistance to the law will be instantly suppressed by
After telling the story of so many battles, as has been done in this volume, it will not be necessary to fight over again here the Battle of Reconstruction. In the situation existing in 1866 and 1867 it was inevitable that widely different views should be held by equally intelligent and patriotic men as to the proper method of treating communities composed of those who had lately been in rebellion. The two policies of generosity and trustfulness on the one hand, of distrust and repression on the other, were certain to find adherents, each in great numbers, among those who had been perfectly united and agreed so long as a single soldier of the Confederacy remained in arms. Nor was the line of separation between the two parties to this question drawn solely according to temperament, character, and prevailing bent of mind. Personal ambitions, political affiliations, accidents as to the point of view or as to individual observation or experience, the influence of recognized leaders of public opinion—all these would surely enter to affect the adhesion of citizens to one or the other of the two policies of reconstruction, so that men of the meanest and most grudging nature should be found among the advocates of generosity and trustfulness in the treatment of the South; while, on the other hand, men whose whole lives had been but an expression of tolerance, charity, and benignity should be earnest in holding that rashly to restore the lately insurgent communities to their former political privileges and to intrust them at once with the self-control which is taken for granted by our form of government, would be alike to endanger the Union and betray the helpless freedmen.