In 1874, James Longstreet of Georgia became the third President of the Confederate States, taking his oath of office on the elevated porch of the Alabama Capitol building in Montgomery, the same place where his predecessors in office, Jefferson Davis and Edmund Ruffin, had been inaugurated.
Gettysburg Prayer Part Five by Raymond SpeerDuring the war, Longstreet had been a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia, third in command behind Lee and Jackson. President Davis had promoted him to be the chief of the Confederate Army following the demobilization, but President Ruffin had removed him from that post and installed Jubal Early in it.
Retiring from active service, Longstreet alleged that there was a move afoot to unlawfully deny Negroes their earned veteran's benefits. "If Early will do it to a crippled Negro, is there any reason for a crippled white man to expect better?" asked Longstreet rhetorically. "I want every veteran of our Armiies secure in the knowledge that his country will provide for him in spite of his injury".
Both President Ruffin and General Early expressed great respect and sympathy for veterans of both colors, but the incumbents said the central government did not have the money to open a nation wide chain of"soldiers and sailors" homes for injured vets. Those who disagreed rallied behind Longstreet's bid for president in 1873.
James Longstreet associated himself with his fellow Confederate General William "Billy" Mahone, who organized the Readjuster Party in opposition to Ruffin's people, the Citizens Party. Mahone said that the only motivation of a politician should be to readjust things so that public affairs worked better. "We want government that costs less and does more," said Mahone, who endorsed Negro candidates on all levels.
The first National Convention of a Confederate political party was held in New Orleans by the Readjusters. James Longstreet was nominated on the first ballot and Edmund Kirby Smith was chosen as the vice presidential nominee.
Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia had served President Ruffin as his Secretary of State, and received his chief's endorsement as the presidential candidate for the Citizens Party. Hunter's running mate was Stephen Mallory, who had served with distinction as Navy Secretary to both Davis and Ruffin.
Longstreet complained during the campaign about the naval appropriations which Hunter and Mallory sought from Congress, arguing that money ought be raised for the care and comfort of "amputee heroes and widows and orphans". The Citizens Party retaliated with accusations that Longstreet had been surly and argumentative in his contacts with Lee and Jackson, and one of Lee's clerks even said that Longstreet's poor attitude had forced Lee and Jackson to consider removing him from his corps command on the second day of Gettysburg.
More substantly, the Readjuster Party wanted a law to be passed by the central government to assure Negro voting rights in every State. The Citizens Party backed denial of the ballot on voters who could not prove lteracy, and said voting rights were best left to the States.
The Longstreet- Kirby Smith ticket took 47.6 percent of the popular votes and Hunter-Mallory registered at 45.3 percent of the popular votes. (For the first time, Virginia cast its electoral vote for the loser. Once again, the South Carolina legislature --- and not the people --- decided where SC's electoral votes went, and they would go to Hunter.) Longstreet won the race.
Longstreet's long time friend, Ulysses Grant, had won the 1868 US presidential election from incumbent president George McClellan. On assuming office as CS president, Longstreet made a visit of good will to Washington DC, that was the basis of a week of circuses, fireworks, parades and balls.
By terms of the Davis-McClellan Agreement, the Confederacy had no rights to block or bar or in any way hinder the flow of trade down the Mississippi River. Moreover, the river was patrolled by US ironclads that reported to the federal forces encamped at Vicksburg, MS. President Ruffin and his Secretary of State, Hunter, had long bellyached about the River Rights that the United States insisted on. President Longstreet signed a note with US Grant acknowledging those River Rights and the US ownership of their fortified capitol, Washington DC., as well as the US ownership of West Virginia.
For the Union, there was a recognition that the lower half of the Southwest territory between Texas and Calfornia was the Confederate territory of Arizona, and the northern half was the Union territory of New Mexico. There would be no military buildup on either side of that new border.
With the end of slavery in the South, given the Greatest Christmas Present which cancelled the peculiar institution, Negroes were free to choose new lives, and many of them went west to Arizona. In Longstreet's last year of office, Arizona joined the Confederacy with a population that was 55% Negro and 10% Hispanic. Of a Congressional delegation of four, two Congressmen were Negro, one CS Senator was Negro and the other Senator was Hispanic.
As early as 1872, Horace Greeley had suggested that the two American Governments consider Reunion as the implementation of the Gettysburg Prayer had removed the chief cause of the 1860 breach, the matter of slavery. Greeley had run for president against Grant and lost and died soon afterwards.
When Longstreet came to office, Abraham Lincoln set about to systematically organize a ReUnion effort between the United States and the Confederate States. By the end of the second year of the ReUnion League's business, it reported 50,000 members in the USA and 20 thousand members in the CSA.
President George B. McClellan, seeking appropriations for defensive fortifications, had passed on the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire and by 1868, Russia had sold Alaska to Britain, which added the province to Canada. When the dictator of Santo Domingo, the eastern segment of Hispanola just across from Hayti, offered to sell the country to the USA, US Grant was determined not to let that opportunity pass.
Outrage was heard in both Houses of the Confederate Congress. The Citizens Party had majorities in both Houses and denounced the"acquisition of territory by the United States" that could "further impair Confederate trade or autonomy". Grant was warned by Longstreet of the agitation that the annexation of Santo Domingo was causing in the South. but Grant ignored the pleas of his old friend. The Santo Domingo Purchase passed the US Congress but only after a crowd of at least 100,000 came from the capitol's Confederate neighbors and protested against the Union's expansion.
Abraham Lincoln wrote in his newspaper column that the South's victory in the War of Secession had rebounded in favor the Reublican Party. "Had the South been re united with the North by battlefield brutality, Governor Tilden the Democrat would now have all the Southern States backing him in the 1876 election, and his victory over the Republicans might appear probable. Instead, Rutherford Hayes has remained in the lead throughout the contest, and is expected to win the presidency next week". As assumed by all, Hayes won a respectable victory over Tilden, even though Tilden won New York's electoral votes