From 1865 to 1877, the United States underwent an era of political complexity and social turbulence known as Reconstruction (Tindell). This period of American history generated extensive implications for life of Americans (Tindell). The main goal of the Reconstruction was to rebuild a devasted South after the abolition of slavery, disruptions of the economy due to the war, and the tremendous amounts of deaths left it in near ruins (Tindell).
The first question at hand was to decide which governments would uphold authority in the South (Tindell). President Abraham Lincoln created a plan for regular governments in the states that were or might have been discharged from Confederate rule (Tindell). This plan was known as the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (Tindell). Under this plan, a Rebel state could form a Union government if ten percent of those who voted in 1860 took an oath of allegiance to the Union and the Constitution and had also received pardon from the President (Tindell). The states willing to participate, also had to swear to support proclamations and laws regarding emancipation (Tindell). There were a few groups that were automatically excluded from the presidential pardon (Tindell). These groups consisted of judeges, congressmen, and military officers who left their posts to help in the rebelling of the southern states, senior officers of the Confederate army and navy, and those who were accused of failure to treat captured officers and soldiers as prisoners of war (Tindell). Abraham Lincoln believed that the Confederate states never left the Union but were “out of their proper practical relation” and his plan was to return them back “into their proper practical relation” (Tindell).
Vice President Andrew Johnson, who later became president, had a different plan for the Confederate states. Andrew Johnson saw reconstruction as restoration, declaring that “there is no such thing as reconstruction. Those States have not gone out of the Union. Therefore reconstruction is not necessary” (Tindell). His plan was similar to Lincoln’s (Tindell). Johnson’s plan for readmitting the states called for each state to require a native Unionist as a provisional governer (Tindell). This governor would have the authority to call a convention of men who were elected by local voters (Tindell). These conventions were to abolish slavery, repudiate all debts caused by helping the Confederacy, and to nullify the secession regulations (Tindell). Johnson also issued a new Proclomation of Amnesty in May of 1865 that excluded everybody with taxable property worth more that $20,000 along with those groups that Lincoln barred from pardon (Tindell). This new group was allowed to make special applications for pardon that were sent directly to the president which resulted in Johnson issuing approximately 13,000 pardons before the year ended (Tindell).
The Radical Republicans, on the other hand, favored a different approach to the restoration. They...