This essay will describe the events that occurred following the CivilWar in a period known as Reconstruction. In the South, during this period oftime many people suffered from the great amount of property damage done to suchthings as farms, factories, railroads and several other things that citizensdepended on to keep their economy strong. Some of these economic hardshipsincluded destruction of the credit system and worthless Confederate money. Though statistics in the South were vague the historian E.
B. Long, a carefulstudent of war strengths suggests perhaps 750,000 individuals would bereasonably a close as an estimate of Southern enrollments in the armies andnavy. In the South Reconstruction meant rebuilding the economy, establishingnew state and local governments and establishing a new social structure betweenwhites and blacks. During the war Lincoln had expanded his presidency. Withhis power he hoped to set up loyal governments in the Southern states that wereunder Union control. Lincoln appointed new temporary governors and instructedeach to call a convention to create a new state government as soon as a group ofthe state’s citizen totaling 10 percent of the voters in the 1860 presidentialelection had signed oaths of loyalty to the Union.Order now
Under this plan newgovernments were formed in Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas but the Congressrefused to recognize them. Republicans in Congress did not want a quickrestoration, for the reason that it would bring Democratic representatives andsenators to Washington, and in 1864 Congress passed the Wade-DavisReconstruction Bill. This bill would have delayed the process of rejoining theUnion until 50 percent of the people took an oath of loyalty but Lincoln pocketvetoed the bill. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just as the South surrenderedin April 1865, and then Andrew Johnson inherited the problem of Reconstruction.
Johnson supported Lincoln’s plan after taking office. Enough Confederates signed these oaths to enable the immediate creationof new governments. Johnson required that the new states ratify the 13thAmendment freeing the slaves, abolish slavery in their own constitutions,discard debts incurred while in rebellion, and declare secession null and void. By the end of 1865 all of the secessionist states but Texas had rejoined theUnion. Radical Republicans in Congress thought they should controlReconstruction and wished to punish the South for causing the Civil War.
Someof these Republicans wished to create a Southern society where blacks and whiteswere equal. These Republicans opposed the Southern Black Codes. Black Codeswere harsh local and state laws passed to control blacks in the South after theCivil War. The Radical Republicans reconstruction plan included the passage of the13th Amendment and established the Freedman’s Bureau(Jackson made the 13thAmendment part of his plan). The Freedman’s Bureau is an agency of the Federalgovernment set up in 1865 to help former slaves and other persons suffering fromthe effects of the Civil War.
This reconstruction plan also included passage ofa Civil Rights bill and the 14th Amendment(all of these were opposed by Johnson). The 13th Amendment said: Neither slavery nor forced labor shall exist withinthe United States or its possessions except as a punishment for one convicted ofa crime. Congress may make laws to enforce this article. The 14th Amendmentsaid in section four: The Federal Government shall pay all its debts,including debts contracted in putting down rebellion. But neither federal norstate governments may pay debts contracted by aiding a rebellion against theUnited States, nor pay anyone for the loss of slaves.
Only Tennessee ratifiedthe 14th amendment and was allowed to rejoin the Union by Radicals. Theremaining ten Confederate states were occupied by United States troops. Southern states had to write a new constitution guaranteeing political rights toblacks. The 15th Amendment said: Neither federal nor state governments candeny any citizen the right to vote because of his race or color, or because hewas once in bondage. Congress can pass laws for carrying out this article.
Passage of this amendment was mandatory for the last four states to re-enter. Andrew Johnson had opposed Radical Reconstruction and had many vetoesoverridden. Congress tried to reduce his power through the Command of Army andTenure of Office Acts. The Command of Army act took away some of thepresident’s power as Commander and Chief of the Army and the Tenure of OfficeActs said the president could not remove a federal official without the Senate’sagreement. In 1868 Johnson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office .