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Reconstruction Essay

991 words - 4 pages

Many people had different views and ideas about Reconstruction. There was much debate about how the Confederate states, which included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, should be readmitted into the Union. Some people believed that the states should be treated as territories, and others believed that the southern leaders should be punished instead of the states. Still, others believed that the South still belonged to the Union because secession was illegal. During the Civil War, on December 1863, President Lincoln announced his 10 % Plan for Reconstruction. Many Northerners considered it to be too mild, but the blacks condemned it for ignoring saying nothing about civil rights fir the freedmen and ignoring black suffrage. Lincoln’s plan was never carried out because he was assassinated less than one week after the Civil War. However, while Lincoln was president, a national debate developed over whether Congress or the President should establish the Reconstruction policy.

Andrew Johnson, who became President of the U.S. in 1865, had his own Reconstruction plan, but it turned out to be unsuccessful largely because of the unfair ways in which blacks were treated. According to his plan, pardons would be offered to all southern whites except wealthy Confederate supporters and the main Confederate leaders. Conventions were to be held by the defeated southern states and new state governments were to be formed. These new governments had to make a vow of loyalty to the nation and abolish slavery in order to rejoin the Union. However, this plan did not offer the blacks a role in this process; he left the responsibility of determining the black people’s roles to the southern states. Under his plan, new state governments were organized throughout the South during the summer and fall of 1865. These states governments passed a series of laws known as the Black Codes. These codes allowed employees to whip black workers, allowed states to jail unemployed blacks and to hire out their children, and forced blacks to sign labor contracts that required them to work a job for a full year. The Republicans in Congress believed that Johnson’s plan was a failure, not only because of the Black Codes that were passed, but because when Congress reassembled in December of 1865, numerous newly elected representatives from the South came to take their positions. These southern newcomers were comprised of former Confederate officials and those that weren’t loyal to the Union during the war. Congress, which was made up of a Republican majority, refused to seat the southerners that were elected from Confederate states. These problems that developed in Congress, as well as the unfair Black Codes, both show that President Johnson’s plan wasn’t a success.

During the Reconstruction era, former slaves received much violence from whites. About 5,000 blacks were murdered by whites from...

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