Monday, December 25, 2023

Reunifying the Country At Christmas

By Jennifer Uhlarik


Merry Christmas to all our HHH Readers! Speaking for all the bloggers at Heroes, Heroines, and History, we hope your 2023 has been a good year, and we wish you a wonderful 2024!


Here’s an interesting little historical fact that happened on one Christmas day in American history…


Pres. Abe Lincoln
Even before the American Civil War’s end, those in the federal government had debated how to go about healing the country. How should the Confederate States be readmitted and reintegrated into the Union? President Lincoln was of the mind to extend an olive branch to Southerners by being lenient to the southern states. During an address to Congress in December 1863, Lincoln outlined his plan, which included a pardon for former Confederates once they pledged their oath of allegiance to the Union. They would not be able to retain ownership of their former slaves, nor would confiscated property be returned when that property involved a third party. In addition, Lincoln planned to deny officeholders in the Confederate government or any person who mistreated prisoners a pardon.


Congress felt Lincoln’s plan was far too lenient. Instead, they proposed the Wade-Davis Bill, which required half of each Confederate state’s voters to swear allegiance to the United States and that they had not supported the Confederacy. Despite Congress passing the bill, Lincoln chose to veto the harsh legislation.


Robert E. Lee's "General Order No. 9",
written at his surrender.

On April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, the Confederates were given parole and were granted permission to return to their homes, so long as they agreed to abide by whatever laws were in force where they resided. But the question remained—how could the Union be restored? Unfortunately, Lincoln never got the chance to bring the answer to this pressing question. Days later, on April 14, 1865, he was assassinated in Ford’s Theater, and in the wake of his death, Andrew Johnson was sworn in as President.


Andrew Johnson became
president after Lincoln's assassination.
Out of the blue in the fall of 1865, President Johnson declared that national unity had been restored and slavery had been ended, so the Reconstruction Era was over. Only the various factions in Congress didn’t agree. Some wanted to focus on repairing damage from the death and destruction caused by the war. Others wanted to bring the newly freed blacks into full freedom, including citizenship, voting rights, and more. And still others wanted to keep the balance of power in the white man’s favor with the freed slaves having no new benefits to their freedom. Within Congress and across the country, these factions warred. Inside the House and Senate, certain factions gained enough votes to override Johnson’s veto power and began enacting harsher restrictions in the former Confederate states. They replaced civilian governments in those states with leadership by the U.S. Army, and roughly a decade of harsh treatment and turmoil ensued as the country was rebuilt. During this time, Johnson’s continued conflicts with Congress resulted in him becoming the first U.S. President to be impeached in 1868, though he was not removed from office in that process.


Despite the infighting in Congress and elsewhere, Johnson (a Southerner born in North Carolina and living much of his life in Tennessee), did what he could to restore the South before his presidential term was up. Though his hands were largely tied by a veto-proof majority in Congress, as one of his last acts before his presidential term ended, on December 25, 1868, President Johnson offered a full pardon to all former Confederate soldiers and other Confederate officeholders, desiring that the act “secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people.” 

President Johnson's proclamation granting 
pardons to all Confederates on Dec 25, 1868.

Whether you agree with President Johnson’s stances in history or not, it sounds like in this instance of offering sweeping pardons to Confederates, he displayed the true spirit of Christmas as he attempted to bring good will to all and to unify a broken and hurting nation.


Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!

Award-winning, best-selling novelist Jennifer Uhlarik has loved the western genre since she read her first Louis L’Amour novel. She penned her first western while earning a writing degree from University of Tampa. Jennifer lives near Tampa with her husband, son, and furbabies.




Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik


A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family


When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery?


Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.


Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians reach St. Augustine, God changes their plans. However, when Sally Jo’s friendship with Broken Bow leads to false accusations, it could cost them their lives.


Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today, and speaking of this difficult time in US history. Merry Christmas to you and yours.