President Abraham Lincoln envisioned a conservative plan for the Reconstruction of the South Essay. Under Lincolnas plan, as soon as ten percent of the voters in a southern state whom have voted in 1860 and had taken an oath of loyalty to the United States, they could then elect constitutional conventions. These conventions, upon adopting new state constitutions and abolishing slavery they would then be readmitted to the union. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln would change polices towards reconstruction of the south.
President Lincoln was succeeded by his vice president Andrew Johnson.
Johnson was a southern democrat who believed in the union, however, he did not believe in black equality. Johnson believed that the planter class in the south had led their section of the country to ruin. As far as blacks were concerned, they were an inferior race to be held in some sort of subjugation to the dominant white population of the south. His attitude ran into a head on collision with that of the radical republicans in congress led by Thaddeus Stevens.
President Johnson tried to enforce Lincolnas Ten Percent Plan. That as soon as ten percent of the population of any southern state took an oath of loyalty to the union and adopted a constitution that abolished slavery they would be readmitted to the union.
The radical republicans in congress totally disagreed with Johnson. Many of the southern states in 1865 under presidential reconstruction adopted what was known as black codes. These codes restricted blacks from any participation in the rights of citizenship. Blacks were confined to an inferior position, they were not legally slaves anymore, but they had no rights of citizenship.
When congress reconvened in December of 1865, they refused to accept the delegations from southern states. The radical republicans in congress designed a serious of acts known as the reconstruction acts to implement their program in the south.
These acts included the Freedmanas Bureau that helped the free slaves adjust to a free society. Also, the Civil Rights Act, which guaranteed blacks both the right to vote and the right to hold property. President Johnson vetoed all the reconstruction acts of congress and congress under the domination of the radical republicans overrode his vetoes. This gridlock between the presidential power and congressional power set the stage for an impeachment in 1868.
Presidential reconstruction under Andrew Johnson was an attempt to rob blacks of their rights that they had won during the Civil War. Although slavery cannot be brought back as an institution, many southern politicians attempted to hold blacks in a dominated position.
President Johnson sympathized with their position and attempted to restore the union without any concern for the rights of the freed blacks. His tolerance of the black codes passed by southern state governments is a testimony to his inherent prejudice against blacks. Although it is good for the constitution that Andrew Johnson was not removed from office in 1868, the contrast between presidential and congressional reconstruction policies raises serious questions about the character of President Johnson. Johnson apparently believed that freedom belonged to white men and nobody else. .