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History of the United States - Essay Example

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In the history of the United States, the reconstruction policies which refer to the federal attitudes toward former slaves and ex-Confederates have evolved through the various stages and there have been significant similarities and differences among the reconstruction policies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and the Radical Republicans…
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History of the United States
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Download file to see previous pages Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction offered pardon to southern whites who took an oath of allegiance to the U.S. and accepted the abolition of slavery. Significantly, the Reconstruction period from 1865 to 1877 witnessed hostilities between the North and South and President Andrew Johnson was assassinated over the issue of reconstruction policy. "However, Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to punish the South for seceding from the Union. These two factions argued over Reconstruction policies and created further ill will between the North and South. Racism in the South also prevented the newly freed slaves from achieving equality in the political, economic, and social arenas of American life." (United States History to 1877) Therefore, Reconstruction in the United States which attempted to give meaning to the freedom that the former slaves had achieved was a long process which lasted from 1865 to 1877 and this paper makes a profound analysis of the reconstruction policies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and the Radical Republicans.
Abraham Lincoln made a vital step towards Reconstruction in the United States when he maintained that the freed slaves in the nation should be granted the rights of the American citizens instead of being urged to leave the country. The reconstruction process of President Lincoln gained the support of his loyal and reconstructed Unionists and this was an essential factor in the success of his policies. According to the reconstruction process of President Lincoln, the national government exerted an unprecedented amount of power to free the salves and guarantee their equal rights as free citizens. "That is why the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution contained clauses that 'Congress shall have power' to enforce these provisions for liberty and equal rights." (Reconstruction, 1863-1877) Significantly, Lincoln's reconstruction policy is best illustrated by the famous phrase in his Second Inaugural Address: 'With malice toward none, with charity for all' and he was not able to complete the process of reconstruction due to his assassination in April 1865.
After the death of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson was elevated to the Presidency of the United States and he was the only U.S. Senator from the South not to resign in 1861. The reconstruction policies of Andrew Johnson marked the formal completion of Reconstruction. Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policies reflected his firm belief in states' rights, his vigorous opposition of black suffrage, and the intense hatred of the pre-war Southern plantation aristocracy. Although the official reason for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act, the real reason was his stubborn defiance of Congress on reconstruction. According to Johnson's reconstruction policies, the states had to swear allegiance to the Union and ratify the 13th amendment in order to reenter the Union. He was willing to pardon high-ranking Confederate officers and "favored states' rights on issues such as giving African Americans the right to vote." He "did not support the Freedman's Bureau and "took a conciliatory approach". (United States History to 1877)
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