In this depressing excerpt from The Man Who Saved the Union:  Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands ©2012, Representative Stevens explains why it’s pointless to Hope and Dream:

But Thaddeus Stevens, though privately declaring the (14th) amendment a “shilly-shally bungling thing,” publicly explained that nothing better could be accomplished under present circumstances. “In my youth, in my manhood, in my old age,” he told the House, “I had fondly dreamed that when any fortunate chance should have broken up for a while the foundation of our institutions, and released us from obligations the most tyrannical that ever man imposed in the name of freedom, that the intelligent, pure and just men of this Republic, true to their profession and their consciences, would have so remodeled all our institutions as to have freed them from every vestige of human oppression, of inequality of rights, of the recognized degradation of the poor, and the superior caste of the rich. In short, that no distinction would be tolerated in this purified Republic but what arose from merit and conduct.” This dream, however, had vanished in the crucible of war and its terrible aftermath. “I find that we shall be obliged to be content with patching up the worst portions of the ancient edifice, and leaving it, in many of its parts, to be swept through by the tempests, the frosts, and the storms of despotism.” Stevens had reconciled himself to what was possible. “Do you inquire why, holding these views and possessing some will of my own, I accept so imperfect a proposition? I answer, because I live among men and not among angels.”

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