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President Lincoln began to reconstruct the seceded States when he issued his amnesty proclamation in December 1863 which offered pardon to all who were in arms if they would lay them down and take an oath to support the government of the United States He said he would recognize a State government as a loyal government provided as many as one-tenth of the number who voted in 1860 would organize a State government and comply with certain conditions named in the proclamation It was evident also that he followed the spirit of the resolution passed by Congress in July 1861 as to preservation of the Union with all the dignity equality and rights of the several States unimpaired although in the progress of the war the Constitution was greatly strained and had been at times ignored to secure success which he regarded as paramount to a restored Union He tried personally to keep as near the principles of the Constitution as was possible in war His object was to restore the Union This was the one object near his heart His theory was that the States were never out of the Union that the people of these States when they returned to their allegiance had the power of reconstruction in their own hands His views as to the qualification of voters were given in his proclamation of 1863 referred to in his message of December 21 1863 viz Being a qualified voter by the election laws of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession and excluding all other shall re-establish a State government He believed in the people to the extent that the people in the seceded States withstanding the war should and must be trusted There can be no doubt as to Mr Lincolns intention in reconstructing the Southern States and time as demonstrated that his statesmanship was correct and that his principles were based on the
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