The Agony of Reconstruction Essay Sample

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I. Issue—Most important post-war issue was the future of the freedmen A. Blacks sought the rights to vote and hold political office B. Results in intense and unparallel political conflicts at the national level II. Political crisis

A. Minimal Reconstruction and supporters
B. Radical Reconstruction and supporters
C. Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty & Reconstruction (Dec. 1863)

1. Proclamation of amnesty
a. Oath of allegiance
b. Acknowledge emancipation
c. Ten percent plan
1. State govts. could be formed when 10% of those who voted in 1860 (note: that does not include freedmen) swore allegiance to the Union and accepted emancipation

2. Confederate officials and military officers needed presidential pardons before participating in the new government 2. Congress’ reaction
a. Wanted protection for black rights as a precondition for readmission b. Wanted constitutional provision for black male suffrage c. Did not trust “repentant” Confederates d. Believed president misusing executive authority D. Wade-Davis Bill

1. Fifty percent take oath of loyalty
2. Only those who swore having never supported the Confederacy could elect delegates to constitutional conventions
3. Did not require black suffrage but gave federal government power to enforce emancipation
4. Lincoln pocket vetoes the bill and dies before compromise plan is worked out III. Andrew Johnson presidency
A. Background
B. Reconstruction policy
1. Placed southern states under appointed provisional governors 2. Appointed governors to call constitutional conventions (and participants had to swear loyalty oath)

3. Confederate Military officers and political leaders had to seek presidential pardons to regain political and property rights 4. Unlike Lincoln, Johnson added people whose taxable property greater than $20,000 to the list of those needing presidential pardons C. Johnson’s recommendations to the conventions

1. Declare secession illegal
2. Refuse to pay Confederate debts
3. Ratify 13th Amendment (Jan 1865) that abolished slavery

D. Conventions results
1. Reluctantly approved Johnson’s recommendations, some with qualifications 2. Limited suffrage to whites
3. “Black Codes”—laws designed to keep blacks a semi-free, cheap labor and place limits on socioeconomic opportunities for blacks 4. Ex-Confederate leaders were elected to office because of Johnson’s generous pardon and amnesty policy.

IV. Split between Johnson and Congress
A. Issues
1. House and Senate refuse to seat southern delegation 2. Congress wants further conditions for readmission 3. Johnson wants quick Reconstruction and return to normalcy a. Vetoes the extension of the Freedmen’s Bureau b. Vetoes the Civil Rights Act

B. Results
1. Shocked moderate Republicans ally themselves with Radicals
2. Congress overrides veto of the Civil Rights Act C. National Union Party—Johnson’s party uniting reviving Democratic Party With Republicans who support him

D. 14th Amendment (June 1866)
1. Gave citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. 2. Passed by Congress and required southern states to ratify 3. Johnson opposed it because it denied states the right to manage their own affairs

4. Weakened by the Slaughterhouse cases of 1873
a. Federal government obliged to protect only basic rights of NATIONAL citizenship
b. Federal government did not have to protect such rights against state violations
E. Causes of Radical Reconstruction plan
1. Black codes enrage Congress
2. Race riots in New Orleans and Memphis
3. Election of former Confederates to Congress
4. Resistance of southern legislatures to the 14th Amendment 5. Radical Republicans favored black suffrage and federal support of schools 6. Radical Republicans wanted to crush the planter aristocracy and revolutionize southern institutions, habits, and manners

7. Radical Republicans believed that Congress should direct reconstruction V. Congressional Reconstruction Act of 1867
A. Placed South under military rule for a short time
B. Quick readmission if states allow black suffrage
C. Election of delegates to state conventions by southern black voters and whites D. Ex-Confederate disqualified from holding federal office could not vote for delegates to constitutional convention

E. Ratification of the 14th Amendment

VI. Impeachment
A. Disapproval by Johnson
B. Congressional response
C. Impeachment
D. Arguments for impeachment
E. Arguments against impeachment
F. Results
G. Significance

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