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Reconstruction 1865-1877. Rebuilding Southern states and gluing the north and south back together . Three major Issues. Who should be in charge: the President or Congress?

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reconstruction 1865 1877

Reconstruction 1865-1877

Rebuilding Southern states and gluing the north and south back together

three major issues

Three major Issues

Who should be in charge: the President or Congress?

How should Southern states that had left the Union and become Confederate be treated? What requirements should be given to them?

What to do with freed blacks. What laws should be made? Should the Constitution be changed?

lincoln lenient
Lincoln = lenient
  • Plan was VERY lenient. He didn’t focus on punishment, he focused on rebuilding: “with malice toward none and charity for all…”
  • Immediately following the Civil War, Congress sent Northern troops to occupy Southern states. They did this to ensure that black people were protected, and stayed until the states had created new Constitutions that formally accepted the 13th amendment (emancipation).

If you want your precious South back in the Union, then each has to accept the 13th Amendment: slaves are FREE

lincoln s 10 percent plan
Lincoln’s “10 Percent” Plan

Amnesty = pardon for offenses and welcome back to the Union

  • Lincoln proposed amnesty (official pardons) for Southerners under two conditions:
    • They must take an oath of loyalty to the United States government (formally give up the Confederacy)
    • They must accept the legality of the 13th amendment (emancipation of slaves – ratified Dec. 6, 1865).
  • After 10 percent of voters in a state had taken the oath, they were given permission to form a government that abolished slavery. Only then could they rejoin the Union.
freedmen s bureau
Freedmen’s Bureau
  • Although blacks were now free, they had no money and no job.
  • Lincoln and Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau to feed and care for needy blacks, to educate them, help them find jobs, and protect them from discrimination.
    • The Freedmen’s Bureau started more than 4,000 elementary schools in the south.
    • The Freedmen’s Bureau helped many poor white, not just black, families in the South.
40 acres and a mule
40 Acres and a Mule
  • One Republican Congressman – Thaddeus Stevens – petitioned Congress to break up Southern plantations and give freedmen forty acres and a mule as payment for years of slavery.
  • Congress refused, saying that taking property without payment would violate people’s rights.
too lenient

Seriously, Abe? 10 percent??

Some Republicans in Congress (Radical Republicans) thought Lincoln’s plan was too lenient.

johnson s plan
Johnson’s Plan

Johnson stepped into office after Lincoln was killed. At first, his plan seemed great:

  • Majority of voters had to take a loyalty oath before the state could seek readmission.
  • Each new government had to outlaw slavery by ratifying (officially accepting) the Thirteenth Amendment.
  • High Confederate officials and army officers and people with more than $20,000 in taxable property had to receive a presidential pardon before being allowed to vote or hold office.

Under Johnson’s plan, most Southern states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, and it became law in December 1865.

  • However, Southern voters elected a number of former Confederate leaders and wealthy planters to Congress. Despite Johnson’s dislike for the wealthy, he was willing to be generous to those who personally came and asked for his pardon.

These actions greatly angered Congress. Although Johnson was proud of his plan, Congress refused to seat the Confederate leaders and was getting ready to take over.

black codes
Black Codes
  • With racist Southern states in office, southern states began passing black codes to discriminate against the former slaves. Although blacks were free, they were not citizens, couldn’t vote, and had no protected rights.
    • In some states, they could not testify against whites in court, vote in elections, or join the army.
    • The codes promoted segregation and forced freedmen to work only as servants or as farm laborers.
    • Black codes also made unemployment a crime for which black men could be fined or jailed.
congress vs johnson
Congress vs. Johnson
  • The same Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to create laws that guaranteed personal freedom for former slaves. This included full voting rights.
  • Johnson thought that states should decide those kinds of laws – just as they did before the Civil War when northern states could be “free” and southern states could be “slave states”. He thought that was a good system and didn’t want the government to determine citizen and voting rights.

I am a racist Democrat who uses state rights as a way to mask my prejudice. I was opposed to slavery because it benefitted the rich (and I hate the wealthy), not because I sympathized with the black race.

johnson goes too far
Johnson goes too far
  • The tension between Congress and Johnson escalated when he vetoed two bills that had passed with strong Republican support:
  • Extending the life of the Freedmen’s Bureau, which assisted the lives of Freedmen.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866, which guaranteed blacks citizenship and “full benefit of all laws as enjoyed by white citizens”

Did he really?

He really did.

Some nerve, that Johnson.

congress and the 14th
Congress and the 14th
  • Congress “upped the ante.” In response to Johnson vetoing the Civil Rights Act, (a mere law,) Congress proposed making a Fourteenth Amendment (permanent change) to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment would mandate:
    • All people born in the U.S. are citizens
    • All citizens are guaranteed equal protection of the laws
    • No state could deprive anyone of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
    • Racial discrimination is illegal.
johnson opposes congress gains power
Johnson Opposes, Congress gains power.
  • Johnson felt that the 14th Amendment denied states the right to manage their own affairs.
  • He urged the Southern States to reject it, which they did (except for Tennessee).
  • The midterm elections of 1866 elected more Republicans in Congress and gave them a 2/3 majority. This meant that they had enough votes to override any of Johnson’s veto. It also meant that American voters were making their voices heard, and they agreed with Congress (NOT Johnson)

Johnson believed that since the war was over, there was no more need for the Freedmen’s Bureau. He also believed that citizenship to blacks should be left to the states.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not prepared to lift a finger for those Freedmen, darn it!

congressional reconstruction
Congressional Reconstruction

Congress takes over Reconstruction and immediately divides the south (except Tennessee, who had ratified the 14th) into five military districts under the control of a Union general with federal troops at his command.

congressional or radical reconstruction
Congressional or Radical Reconstruction

Congress also decides:

  • Former Confederate officials are NOT able to hold office
  • New state constitutions giving blacks the right to vote must be drafted.
  • New state constitutions had to be ratified by voters and then approved by Congress.
  • The new state constitutions must ratify the 14th amendment (guaranteeing right to citizenship)
fighting back and forth
Fighting back and forth…
  • Johnson responded to Congress’s bold move by firing a few individuals who sympathized with Radical Reconstruction.
  • Congress struck back by passing laws to limit the President’s authority over Reconstruction, such as:
    • The Tenure of Office Act (preventing the President from firing officials without Senate approval)
johnson goes too far1
Johnson goes too far
  • Johnson decides to test the limits by ordering General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant to replace the Secretary of War (a Radical Republican remaining from Lincoln’s staff). Grant refused to obey because he wanted to run for President in the next election.
  • Johnson appointed a new Secretary of War and the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for violating the Tenure of Office Act.
johnson stays but congress wins
Johnson stays but Congress wins
  • After he was impeached, Johnson went on trial before the senate. He was one vote away from being found guilty.
  • Although Johnson remained in office, the trial ensured that Congress was in charge and that Reconstruction would proceed as Congress intended.
  • Johnson finished his remaining months with little to no influence.
15 th amendment
15th Amendment
  • Congress proposed the Fifteenth Amendment, prohibiting governments from denying the vote of anyone “on account of race, color, or pervious condition of servitude.”
  • This is the last of the Reconstruction Amendments.
  • Did it solve everything?
  • Literacy tests and poll taxes were applied to new voters in the South. In theory these applied equally to blacks and whites and therefore did not violate the 15th Amendment.
  • HOWEVER, whites were excused from both by a “grandfather clause” in the laws, saying that any man whose father or grandfather could vote on January 1, 1867 was exempted.
supreme court agrees
Supreme Court Agrees
  • When challenged in court, the Supreme Court ruled that the new voting “laws” did not violate the fifteenth amendment because they did not deny anyone the right to vote on the basis of race.