A brief aside here, if I may, on the history of the House Select Committee on Reconstruction. It started out as the Joint Committee on Reconstruction (also known as the Committee of Fifteen) on 13 December 1865 (39th Congress, March 1865 to March 1867). It was the brain-child of the fanatical Radical Republican representative from Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Stevens, and was the organized beginning by Congress to get President Andrew Johnson under control, or more specifically, get Reconstruction under congressional control. Nine House members sat on the committee along with six senators. Senator William P. Fessenden (Maine), Salmon P. Chase’s brief successor at Treasury, was the committee’s chairman. Twelve Republicans and three Democrats comprised the group. It was this committee that drafted the Fourteenth Amendment and established the requirement that the Southern states ratify that desecration to the Constitution before being readmitted to the Union. Apparently believing it had accomplished its job of summarily destroying the Founders’ Republic, the Senate opted out of further participation and with the 40th Congress (March 1867-March 1869), we see only a House Select Committee on Reconstruction chaired by Thaddeus Stevens, whom the grim reaper collected in August 1868, much too late for the South or for the Republic.No matter, another Radical in the form of George S. Boutwell from Massachusetts succeeded to the chair. It is Boutwell’s group, meeting during the 40th Congress’ third session (December 1868-March 1869), that the contenders for power in Mississippi descended upon. Nine men, seven Republicans and two Democrats comprised the House committee at that time. The two Democrats were James Brooks of New York and James Beck of Kentucky, who was the only true Southerner on the Committee. Alabama (having been blessed with reentry) also had a representative on the committee—Benjamin W. Norris, a former U. S. Army paymaster from Maine who settled in Mobile, Alabama and continued to work with the Freedmen’s Bureau after the war. He was a puppet carpetbagger, y’all, at the apex of his short-lived political career—representative of Alabama he was not.
[Recall, too, that Salmon P. Chase is Chief Justice at this time, so I doubt the good guys would have found any satisfaction with the Supreme Court. It was the Northern states that needed to act, and they failed to do so.]
and perhaps that was what the Georgia Democrats/conservatives were banking their argument on.]