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Name: Period

USII: HW
Reconstruction
Review and Overview
Directions: 1.) Read the following article ACTIVELY (underline, highlight or
annotate) 2.) Using full sentences, answer the questions on a SEPARATE PIECE
OF PAPER.

Army band sits in an army wagon with an election banner for state senate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shortly
after the close of the Civil War. Reconstruction left states to organize their own governments following the
President's appointment of a governor. [Miller, Francis Trevelyan and Robert Sampson Lanier, The
Photographic History of the Civil War. vol 9, 1911]

President Abraham Lincoln and his advisers began thinking about healing the nation's wounds even
as they struggled to win the Civil War itself. They knew that bringing the 11 Confederate states back
into the Union would be no simple task. Thus, Lincoln had a plan for Reconstruction ready as the war
came to a close. However, after his assassination in 1865, new voices entered the discussion. The next
battle—over how to conduct Reconstruction —began and quickly became ugly.

The Reconstruction period was divided into two phases. Presidential Reconstruction, during 1865-
1867, was the period when President Abraham Lincoln and his successor, President Andrew Johnson,
guided the federal government's policy toward the South. Both Lincoln and Johnson favored a
moderate policy that would allow the Southern states to rejoin the Union quickly and without
enacting substantial changes to their political, economic, or social structures.

After Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, Johnson was unable to maintain sufficient congressional
or public support for those policies. Presidential Reconstruction ended in March 1867, when a newly
elected Congress, dominated by Radical Republicans, opened its session. This second phase, which
was known as Radical Reconstruction and lasted from 1867 to 1877, was guided by such congressional
leaders as Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner. The Radical Republicans' goal was to punish white
Southerners for rebelling against the Union and to elevate African Americans in the South to alleviate
the effects of slavery. By passing several substantial pieces of legislation, Congress hoped to enact
significant political, economic, and social change in the South and restructure Southern society.

The federal government had only limited success with its plans, primarily because of political
infighting in the North among Radical Republicans, Republicans, and Democrats. In addition, white
Southerners worked diligently to undermine the effects of legislation and exert local control over
Southern society. Reconstruction paved the way for blacks to be enfranchised for the first time, but it
generated enormous anger among whites. Largely as a result of compromises surrounding the
presidential election of 1876, by 1877, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the
Union, and federal troops withdrew from the South that same year.

Lincoln's Plan
On the premise that secession was illegal and that Southern citizens were not individually responsible,
Lincoln proposed welcoming the states back with a loyalty oath from 10% of citizens. Many in
Congress reacted negatively; they thought the plan was too lenient and without protection for freed
African Americans. They proposed the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery on the national level
and also advocated more severe punishment for Confederate leaders and states. Furthermore,
Congress advanced its own right to determine how Reconstruction would be handled. Before those
conflicts could be resolved, Lincoln was assassinated, and Vice President Andrew Johnson became
president.

Johnson's Plan
Taking up where Lincoln left off, Johnson followed a moderate approach to Reconstruction. Under his
plan, most Southern whites received amnesty; Confederate leaders and key supporters were ineligible,
however, unless they received a presidential pardon. States could reenter the Union by ratifying the
Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery at the state level, and paying their war debts, along with
other requirements. However, Johnson's plan left the states to form their own governments after his
appointment of a governor and required no role for freed African Americans in those governments.
Johnson opposed African-American suffrage in the South, especially as it had not been granted in the
North. As Congress recessed, Johnson's plans were largely enacted in the summer of 1865.

Congressional Plan
Congress, faced with Southern members attempting to retake their seats, responded angrily. Many of
those congressmen had just a year ago been in open rebellion against the Union. Additionally,
Congress found the black codes—laws enacted by the new Southern state governments to restrict the
real rights of freedmen—offensive. They voted to seize the Reconstruction process from Johnson and
to implement their own plan. Led by a group called the Radical Republicans, Congress refused to seat
the Southern representatives. They then passed such laws as the Freedmen's Bureau Act, the Civil
Rights Act (1866), and finally in 1867, the Reconstruction Acts—often over Johnson's veto—in order
to shape their own Reconstruction. Military supervision began in the Southern states, and each state
was required to accept the Fourteenth Amendment (granting citizenship to blacks) and the Fifteenth
Amendment (guaranteeing civil rights to blacks) as well as to enfranchise black citizens. Radical
Reconstruction lasted until 1877 but solved little. The battle over Reconstruction, its methods, and its
control left bitterness in the government and among the people, especially in the South.

Radical Republicans
The Radical Republicans were a political faction in the North devoted to a vigorous prosecution of the
Civil War, immediate emancipation and rights for the slaves, and a thoroughgoing postwar
reconstruction of the South.

The unhappiness of antislavery activists with national parties that compromised on slavery led in the
antebellum years to independent antislavery organizations in the Liberty Party, Free Soil Party, and
finally the Republican Party. Only the Republican Party reached major party stature, however, and
only then by muting its abolitionism and broadening its appeal to include other issues. The party's
"radicals" emerged as the conscience of the party, attempting to keep it true to its original antislavery
idealism. Tracing their intellectual and often geographical roots to New England and its Puritan past,
radicals believed political leaders must pursue morally just policies regardless of their political
expediency. Even the Constitution must not be allowed to stand in the way of achieving a just and
moral society. While all Republicans shared a dislike of slavery and preference for free labor, only the
radicals insisted that correcting the moral wrong of slavery outweighed all considerations of property
loss, possible civil war, constitutional objections, and existing racial prejudices.

Democrats, and even some conservative Republicans, found what they perceived as radical self-
righteousness and indifference to the Constitution hard to bear. Democrats in particular happily
labeled all Republicans "radicals." They recognized that many of the causes championed by individual
radicals (racial equality, temperance, labor reform, and women's rights along with abolition) were in
fact highly controversial and sure to alarm many voters outside reform-minded New England and the
upper North states of Yankee migration. The efforts of moderate Republicans to dissociate the party
from extreme stands and radical candidates characterized the period of Republican growth before the
war. Moderate Abraham Lincoln's nomination for president in 1860 in preference to the more radical
William H. Seward was just one example of this.

The radicals' extreme stands on issues and unwillingness to compromise led to constant frustration in
the prewar era. Only with the secession of the Southern states and the onset of war did the political
situation change to accommodate those at the political extremes. Those who had defied the South for
years now took positions as chairs of congressional committees (Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens,
Zachariah Chandler, and Henry Wilson, among others) or served in the cabinet (Salmon P. Chase). In
addition, the revolutionary wartime situation seemed opportune for emancipation. Convinced that the
Northern public would support seizure of Southern property, arrests of Northern and border state
"traitors," abolition of slavery, and African-American soldiers, radicals challenged those who would
proceed more cautiously, including Lincoln. Although the moderate Lincoln sought to maintain good
relationships with radicals in his party, the latter openly cringed at his preference for creating a broad
coalition in favor of the war over pursuing a "principled" radical agenda of confiscation and abolition.

In December 1861 Congress authorized a joint investigative committee, the Committee on the
Conduct of the War, which was presided over by radical Benjamin Wade. It offered a vehicle for
radicals to comment on the war's management by Lincoln. Democratic generals such as George B.
McClellan were criticized for being overly sympathetic to the South and slaveholders, while ineffective
but radical generals such as Benjamin Butler found a friendly forum for defending their military
actions. The committee issued reports on treatment of Union prisoners of war sure to arouse hatred of
the South and calls for a more vigorous prosecution of the war. But although radicals could investigate
Lincoln's war effort, the committee produced little legislation and had no direct impact on the
military; its main influence was on public opinion. Indeed, radicals may have served the president's
cause by preparing the way for some of the more extreme measures the war dictated.

Dissatisfied with Lincoln's avoidance of emancipation early in the war, radicals pursued, over
Lincoln's objections, confiscation bills that would free most Southern slaves. They also offered in 1864
an alternative (the Wade-Davis Bill) to Lincoln's reconstruction ideas, which would have permitted
those who had supported the Confederacy to assume political roles on the taking of oaths of future
loyalty. When the president pocket vetoed the measure, Wade and Davis openly attacked the
president in the Wade-Davis Manifesto for "dictatorial usurpation." Radicals Wade, Chase, and John
C. Frémont all maneuvered for the Republican nomination in 1864. Radicals even spearheaded a
drive in August (after the Republican Convention) to replace Lincoln as the party's nominee.

Historians have long debated the radicals' significance. Analysis of congressional votes reveals that
consistent radicals never were a majority of their party, much less Congress. Many individuals shifted
factional allegiances from session to session. Seward, a prewar radical, took moderate positions
during the war. Wartime radical Butler had been a prewar Democrat, even favoring Jefferson Davis
for the Democratic Party nomination in 1860. Such factional inconsistency suggests that some who
favored radical policies did so as a result of political calculation, not solely as a moral imperative. The
radical faction was far from unified or stable. Despite the intraparty feuding, Lincoln could normally
count on most radicals for support—as his decisive victory in 1864 demonstrated.

Nevertheless, radicals added a distinctive element to Civil War politics. By acting as a faction and
threatening to withdraw support at key moments, radicals could gain concessions. Some regard the
Emancipation Proclamation itself as an attempt to forestall a boycott of the war by frustrated radicals.
When Lincoln removed the scheming Chase from his cabinet in 1864, he compensated radicals by
removing a conservative (Montgomery Blair) as well. While radicals may have found many wartime
policies regarding race and reconstruction too conservative for their tastes, their contributions to the
debates on those topics also guaranteed that the most conservative options would be rejected. In this
way they exercised influence.

Some historians have defined the radicals in economic terms as defenders of Northern capitalism.
While long discounted, analysis of wartime congressional voting shows radicals disproportionately
favored measures promoting economic growth and development at the national level. Such views
suggest a linking in radical minds of free labor and capitalism as signs of a modern, progressive
nation.

Lincoln's death would lead to the period of greatest radical influence as Andrew Johnson squared off
with Congress on Reconstruction. The nation had not been radicalized, however; by 1867 the radicals
began a permanent decline1.

Guided Reading Questions: Please answer using full sentences and examples from the article on
a separate piece of paper.
1. Describe the reconstruction plan favored by both Lincoln and Johnson
2. What was the reconstruction goal of the Radical Republicans?
3. What was the purpose of the “black codes” in the southern states? How did the radical
republicans oppose this plan?
4. Describe the 14th and 15th amendments.
5. What were the origins of the Radical Republican party? In your opinion, were the goals of the
party successful in the years following the civil war?

1
"Reconstruction Plans (Overview)." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Web. 7 Sept. 2010.
<http://americanhistory.abc-clio.com/>

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