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Reconstruction: A Partial Success And A Partial Failure

1586 words - 7 pages

Reconstruction: A Partial Success and a Partial Failure
After the Civil War ended in 1865, it was followed by an era known as Reconstruction that lasted until 1877, with the goal to rebuild the nation. Lincoln was the president at the beginning of this era, until his assassination caused his vice president, Andrew Johnson to take his place in 1865. Johnson was faced with numerous issues such as the reunification of the union and the unknown status of the ex-slaves, while compromising between the principles of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. After the Election of 1868, Ulysses S. Grant, a former war hero with no political experience, became the nation’s new president, but was involved in numerous acts of corruption. Reconstruction successfully reintegrated the southern states into the Union through Lincoln and Johnson’s Reconstruction Plans, but was mostly a failure due to the continued discriminatory policies against African Americans, such as the Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, and sharecropping, as well as the widespread corruption of the elite in the North and the Panic of 1873,
Although Lincoln and Johnson both passed Reconstruction plans that helped reunite the north and the south, ultimately Congress was not satisfied and passed its own plan. Lincoln passed a rather forgiving Reconstruction plan because in his opinion, the Confederate states had never seceded from the Union. The Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction included a ten percent plan, which “ would recognize them as people of the states within which they acted, and aid them to gain in all respects full acknowledgement and enjoyment of statehood, even though the persons who thus acted were but a tenth part of the original voters of their states” (Wilson 3). This act of forgiveness by Lincoln made it easier for the states to join the Union, which attracted southern states. This plan was not favored by Congress because they believed it was not harsh enough, who instead wanted to pass the Wade-Davis Bill, something more harsh, which Lincoln eventually pocket-vetoed. Johnson also had his own Reconstruction plan, which in some ways was harsher than Lincoln’s plan, but was forgiving as well. In his plan, Johnson did not allow former leaders, officeholders, or Confederates with 20,000 dollars worth of taxable property to vote and hold office, but had the power to give “pardons. Emboldened by Johnson’s indulgence, ex-Confederates began to filter back into the halls of power”(Henretta 464). Johnson’s pardons also attracted southerners to rejoin the union because through his pardons they could regain positions in office, which could eventually create a Democratic majority in Congress. Another Act, known as the Amnesty Act of 1872 allowed southerners to vote for Democrats and retake control of state governments, which is what also reunified the south due to the same reason that the Democrats could soon gain control of the nation. All these acts and policies contributed to the...

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