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The Reconstruction Of The Union After The Civil War

2175 words - 9 pages

The reconstruction of the Union began under President Lincoln before the end of the war, and carried on by President Johnson after the assassination of President Lincoln. After Lincoln’s death, the leadership of the nation bestowed upon Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. According to A. Brinkley (pg. 375), Johnson revealed his plan for reconstruction or “Restoration”, as he preferred to call it, soon after he took office and implemented it during the summer of 1865 when Congress was in recess. Like Lincoln, he offered some form of amnesty to Southerners who would take a pledge of loyalty to the Union. In most other respect, however, his plan resembled the Wade-Davis Bill. The next phase of reconstruction, known as the Congressional Plan or "Radical" modernization had begun, which undid everything started by Presidents Lincoln and Johnson. These radicals, mostly republicans, motivated by three main factors revenge, concern for the freedmen, and political concerns. The Radicals in Congress pushed through a number of measures designed to assist the freedmen, but also demonstrate the supremacy of Congress over the president. These events included the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the 14th Amendment, the Tenure of Office Act, and the Army Appropriations Act. The Radical Republicans prepared an effort in Congress to impeach the president Johnson as a payback for resisting their platforms. The vote in the Senate was 35-19 for conviction, one vote short of the necessary two-thirds. This was in turn to a few Republicans that had crossed over and voted with the Democrats, thus refuting the ultimate retaliation to the Radicals. If the removal of President Johnson had gone thru, it might have permanently weakened the executive branch. Congress then controlled reconstruction throughout the rest of Johnson’s term in office and continued to rule it during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

This latter period was the greatest trial that the South had to bear, not excepting the terrible ordeal of war. To understand properly the surroundings, it is necessary to enumerate briefly the events, which occurred early in 1865, and the directions given by President Johnson to the military officers of the United States. The death of President Lincoln regarded as the greatest catastrophe that could have happened to the people of the South. The arrest and imprisonment of President Davis and many of the Confederate soldiers and statesmen have been already related. The treatment of Mr. Davis was very harsh indeed, complicity in the assassination of Mr. Lincoln cruelly imputed to him, and a large reward offered for his capture. Every town, village, district occupied rapidly by the Union troops as the Confederate resistance melted away, and all civil government ignored. The governors of most of the seceded States attempted to call their legislatures together to conform to the results of the war and take steps for their restoration to the Union. They did this,...

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