“[Secretary of War Edwin M.] Stanton had come armed with a plan, drawn up at the President’s request, for bringing the states that had been ‘abroad’ back into what Lincoln… called ‘their proper practical relation with the Union.’ The War Secretary’s notion was that military occupation should precede readmission, and in this connection he proposed that Virginia and North Carolina be combined in a single district to simplify the army’s task.
“[Secretary of the Navy Gideon] Welles took exception, on grounds that this last would destroy the individuality of both states and thus be ‘in conflict with the principles of self-government which I deem essential.’ So did Lincoln….
“[Lincoln] had reached certain bedrock conclusions: ‘We can’t undertake to run state governments in all these Southern states. Their own people must do that — though I reckon at first some of them may do it badly.'”
— From a recounting of President Lincoln’s last day in “The Civil War: A Narrative” (1958-1974) by Shelby Foote