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The "New" South After The Civil War

3902 words - 16 pages

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." The Thirteenth Amendment was passed on December 18, 1865 and abolished slavery, the Fourteenth amendment proposed passed on July 28, 1868, and granted citizenship to people once enslaved, and the Fifteenth Amendment passed on February 3, 1870, which guaranteed black men the right to vote.
But the changes in the Southern States hadn't come easy. New state governments were created after the Civil War. After each state elected a governor and a member of the state legislature, and ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, the state was back in the Union again. Although then many former Confederate officers were elected to the Congress, when Congress began again after the elections, the ex-Confederates were not allowed to participate; it was punishment for the Southern States trying to go around the new laws and still practice discrimination against African Americans. The President tried a "radical" reconstruction policy. This involved the military and many people elected to office that came down from the Northern States after the Civil War. The Military Reconstruction Act placed Southern States under the direct control of the US Army. This was a state like martial law in which the military closely supervised local government, elections, and protected the office holders from violence. The South felt punished by the President and Congress and many people began acting violently and using threats. To keep African Americans "in their place" they also used poll taxes, literacy tests, and property requirements. Several laws were enacted like the Civil Rights Act in response to southern Black Codes. The Act granted the right to buy property and to sue and testify in court. President Johnson vetoed the Act and Congress overrode the veto by a single vote. This began a power struggle between the President and Congress that would lead to impeachment.
Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction had included the Ten-Percent Plan, which was that a southern state could be part of the Union once 10 percent of its voters pledged loyalty to the Union. But in 1864, the Wade-Davis Bill was passed by Congress which opposed Lincoln's Ten-Percent Plan. The bill stated that a southern state could rejoin the Union only if 50 percent of its registered voters swore an "ironclad oath" of loyalty to the United States. The bill also established some black civil liberties but did not give blacks the right to vote. Because the Wade-Davis Bill was passed near the end of Congress's session, Lincoln refused to sign it before Congress went into recess. This was called a "pocket veto." After President Lincoln's assassination, President Johnson adopted Lincoln's 10% plan and by December 1865, every southern state except Texas had declared...

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