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The Reconstruction - Essay Example

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Name: Course: Date: Introduction Reconstruction in the South after the civil war was engineered by the presidents and the congress mostly comprised of the Radical Republicans. The most visible Reconstruction plans were those of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson and the Congress…
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The Reconstruction
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Download file to see previous pages There were many challenges in the period trying to safeguard rights for African Americans leading to passage of various Acts and constitutional Amendments to guide the process. However, the aim of this paper is to compare the presidential and congressional Reconstruction and to develop a 3-point plan for Reconstruction which would have been more successful than the other plans. The main difference between presidential and congress plans was that the presidential plans were very lenient to the confederates contrary to what Radical Republicans expected. The Congressional Acts and Amendments were very stringent aimed at punishing the rebel states and especially the people in high ranks during the war. The 10% plan by Lincoln entailed pardoning those who swore allegiance to the union as well as the US constitution (Franklin 16). New governments were to be formed using new constitution and abolishment of slavery was a necessity for readmission to the union. Just like Lincoln, Johnson’s plan was even more lenient. It involved pardoning those who took loyalty oaths except high ranking confederate political and military leaders (Ferrell 27). Though Republican and a Southerner by birth, Johnson loathed the wealthy planters as he believed they are the ones who led the secession of south. Those with property worth more than $ 20,000 were thus not allowed to take loyalty oaths and this meant they couldn’t hold public offices or vote. However, he did not address the plight of Freedmen giving room for southerners to establish Black Codes to limit black rights. Those states which created new governments were readmitted to the union on condition that they abolished slavery. The congressional plan was very radical. Republicans wanted to confiscate land of rebels and divide it among the Freedmen and the Freedmen bureau was entrusted with that task. The congress also refused to accept those elected from former confederate states in the congress especially former high ranking officers. The congress unlike Johnson was bent on securing rights and citizenship for former slaves thus passed the Civil Rights Act in 1866 that gave blacks equality under the law and due process of law. It also extended the life of Freedmen’s Bureau and overturned the Black Codes. To further black rights, the congress entrenched these rights in the constitution by passing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the constitution. Fourteenth Amendment gave citizenship to freedmen, equal protection of law and due process of law. It was passed in 1868 and stated “all persons born or naturalized in the U.S and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of U.S and of state wherein they reside” (Foner 251). The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 gave blacks suffrage and stated “the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any state on account race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (Ferrell 41). However, it did not guarantee voting as states could still deny blacks right to vote based on other criteria such as poll tax. Besides, gangs like Ku Klux Klan could not allow to them to vote thus unleashed terror on them. States had to ratify both amendments to be readmitted to the union. Besides the two amendments, the congress also devised Reconstruction Acts in 1867 to act as its plan for Reconstruction. Under these four acts, the remaining ten former confederate states which had not ratified the fourteenth Amendment ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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