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The Successes And Failures Of Reconstruction

759 words - 4 pages

Reconstruction could be considered one of the largest projects ever undertaken. The mess that was the south, left in the ruins of a bloody war, called for drastic measures. The inquisition that begs to be asked is whether or not this venture was a success. Unfortunately the answer isn't as simple as "yes" or "no". Although many promises were broken, the much-debated goals of Reconstruction are still present in the minds of today's leaders as we continue to rebuild our country.
Readmission to the union was a dividing factor between Republicans in politics. Lincoln advocated for the "Ten Percent Plan". This demanded that only ten percent of voters in a state take an oath to uphold the values presented in the constitution in order to rejoin the union. Lincoln would then pardon all but Confederate government figures and rights of citizenship would be readmitted. Radical Republicans opposed this plan, claiming that it was too lenient. They then passed the Wade Davis Bill. This bill required that a majority of the population take an oath stating that they had never supported the Confederacy. The Wade Davis Bill also required more rights for freedmen including the right to vote, hold office, own property and testify in court. Lincoln, wanting an easy transition into a unified country, used a pocket veto so he could continue with his plan. Lamentably, Lincoln was assassinated months after his decision and his successor, Andrew Johnson, took on the role of president. Johnson, having grown up in a poor southern household, sympathized with the south yet, abhorred the planter class. In his Reconstruction plan he issued a blanket pardon to all southerners except important confederate figures who would have to personally meet with the president in order to be forgiven and given citizenship.
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Slaves in America had been promised freedom, and through the Emancipation Proclamation, freedom from slavery is technically what they received. However, they still had almost no natural rights in the South. Black men could notvote, and freedmen had virtually no chance at becoming financially successful. Many participated in a practice penned "sharecropping". A plantation owner would offer freedmen a portion of their land in exchange for a percentage of the crops cultivated on the land. Unfortunately many men took out food...

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