The Battle Over Reconstruction. Andrew Johnson and the Radical Republicans fight for control of Reconstruction, 1865 - 1869. The 13 th Amendment to the Constitution. The 13 th Amendment to the Constitution forbid slavery in the United States of America.
The Battle Over Reconstruction
Andrew Johnson and the Radical Republicans fight for control of Reconstruction, 1865 - 1869
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution forbid slavery in the United States of America.
1. 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.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Andrew Johnson offered broad amnesty to most ex-Confederates. He required that they ratify the 13th Amendment, but would permit former Confederate government officials and officers to serve in the Congress. Most Radical Republicans considered his plan far too lenient on ex-Confederates, and his racist disposition caused concern within the Republican Congress.
Alexander Stephens, pictured to the right, was the Vice President of the Confederate States of America. He was elected to the Senate from Georgia following the Civil War, but Congress refused to allow him to take his seat. When the former Confederate states had the opportunity to participate in elections, they often supported men who had been leaders prior to the Civil War, or during the war. But when African-American suffrage became more common, dramatic changes would begin for Southern Democracy .
Southern Black Codes were new laws used by Southern States to control the movements and rights of recently freed African-Americans. To the greatest extent possible, Southern States attempted to maintain the slavery system. If they could not maintain slavery, they would at least attempt to preserve the social hierarchy which allowed white supremacists to control the politics, economics, and society of the South.
1. The first goal of the Radical Republicans was to protect the newly free African-Americans, their rights, and their property. Moreover, they wanted to ensure equality of opportunity under the law.
2. Preventing former Confederates from taking political power in the South was a key to protecting African-American rights. Radical Republicans wanted to prevent members of the CSA from holding office – and supported both African-American and Carpetbagger (Northerners) candidates.
President Andrew Johnson frequently found himself in conflict with the Radical Republicans who controlled Congress. Thus, he was forced to use his veto power against legislation which he opposed. Unfortunately for him, though, the Congress was able to circumvent him on a number of occasions.
Two of the more important laws which Johnson vetoed, but Congress managed to pass into law by an override vote were:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Fourteenth Amendment gave citizenship to any person born in the territorial United States (including both ex-Confederates and African-American enslaved persons). It also made it the business of the national government to see to it that states protected the rights of the nation’s citizens. This is how Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s challenged Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South. But it took a long time to evoke real change.
Immigration and Citizenship
When children are born in the United States they become US Citizens automatically. Some people believe that the children of illegal immigrants should not be allowed citizenship and seek to change the Constitution.
Illegal immigration to the United States is an increasingly difficult problem for Americans to wrestle with. While we have always been a nation of immigrants, the cost of maintaining health care and education for our own citizens and the children of illegal immigrants is high and seems burdensome during periods of economic recession.
Hiram Revels was elected to the United States Senate by the state of Alabama. African Americans were elected to many positions, such as sheriff, mayor, judges, or Congressmen.
Born into slavery near Farmville, Virginia, Blanche K. Bruce became a United States Senator from the state of Mississippi during Reconstruction. Despite the advancements of African-American politicians during this period, there would be a long drought in political victories for black candidates after the end of Reconstruction in 1876. After Bruce, the next African-American elected to the Senate was Edward Brooke, who represented the state of Massachusetts from 1967 to 1979. His election was a full 90 years after Reconstruction had come to an end!
Southerners who had opposed secession and now supported the policies of the United States national government to Reconstruct the South were called this pejorative term - scalawags. Often, teachers who helped to educate African-Americans, plantation owners who cooperated with Union soldiers, or Southerners who seemed a little too eager to help Northern “carpetbaggers” would be called scalawags. Southerners who sought political cooperation with freedmen would be called scalawags, too.
The term carpetbagger was reserved for Northern whites who moved South to help the Reconstruction process – business leaders, politicians, or even teachers. Many ex-Confederates thought these men and women had come South to gain money or power and questioned their good motives.
Andrew Johnson was impeached before the Senate for replacing a member of his own Cabinet – a weak charge with no Constitutional merit. He was not removed from office.
Former US General
Ulysses S. Grant has a poor reputation as a President of the United States, mostly due to the corruption which was discovered under his administration. He himself, though, was honest, devoted to the rights of Freedmen and the Reconstruction of the US, and capable.
With the end of Reconstruction, violent hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan began to use physical intimidation and brutality in order to repress African-Americans and deny them their Constitutional rights.