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Presidential Reconstruction
Reconstruction
• Legal, social and political process of national
integration
– Used to be seen as how the South was brough...
Reconstruction, cont.
• Subject of bitter political conflict
– Between Democrats and Republicans
• And between different f...
Uncomfortable truths
• For small-government conservatives, must
confront the reality that heavy government
intervention wo...
Lincoln’s 10% Plan
• Outlined in his Proclamation of Amnesty and
Reconstruction (Dec. 1863)
– Concerned those parts of Con...
10 Percent Plan, cont.
• States would retain the same names, boundaries,
and laws, except as concerned slavery
• Any provi...
What was Lincoln thinking?
• Plan should be seen as a war measure
– Sought to give loyal or ambivalent southerners a way
b...
Reaction to Lincoln’s plan
• Many Democrats thought the plan went way too far
– They still supported states’ rights
– And ...
Wade-Davis Bill
• Congress passed in mid 1864
– Challenged Presidential control
– Gave Senate veto power over provisional ...
Significance of Wade-Davis
• Raised two the biggest issues on which
Reconstruction turned:
– Who would control the process...
Lincoln’s final thoughts
• Last cabinet meeting in April 1865: “We can’t
undertake to run state governments in all these
s...
Andrew Johnson
• Devout Unionist
– Despised “slave power”
• No formal schooling
• TN Senator
– Did not vacate his seat
whe...
Johnson’s plan
• In some ways resembled the Wade-Davis Bill
– Denied amnesty to more people than Lincoln
• Disenfranchised...
Johnson, cont.
• Ended up being very lenient
– Handed out some 13,500 pardons
• Proved to be an old-line Democrat
• Uncomf...
Postwar South
• Physical devastation and social collapse
– Rise in criminality, violence
• No functioning court system
• W...
Struggle over labor
• Black women began refusing to perform
domestic work for whites & withdrew labor from
fields
• Black ...
Ex-Confederate Defiance
• All states passed Black Codes designed to
perpetuate subordination of African Americans
– Sought...
Showdown in 1866
• Congress passed two important bills in early 1866
– Extending the Freedman’s Bureau
– Nation’s first Ci...
Power began shifting to Congress
• Initially, white southerners seemed prepared to
accept whatever terms the Union imposed...
Lecture 16: Presidential Reconstruction
Lecture 16: Presidential Reconstruction
Lecture 16: Presidential Reconstruction
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Lecture 16: Presidential Reconstruction

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Lecture 16

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Lecture 16: Presidential Reconstruction

  1. 1. Presidential Reconstruction
  2. 2. Reconstruction • Legal, social and political process of national integration – Used to be seen as how the South was brought back into the Union – But new scholarship views the reintegration of the South and the conquering of the far West as related developments – Chronology typically defined as 1865-77 • But Eric Foner argues that it began in 1863, and others now suggest it makes sense to think of it ending in the 1880s or 1890s, with the defeat of Native Americans in the West – Two phases: presidential (1865-66) and congressional (1867 on) • Major questions – Who gets the vote? – What legal rights would former slaves have? – How, or should, former Confederates be punished? – What should happen to confiscated lands?
  3. 3. Reconstruction, cont. • Subject of bitter political conflict – Between Democrats and Republicans • And between different factions within the Republican Party – idealists v. business-oriented Republicans – Between the President and Congress • Reconstruction also involved conflicts between ordinary people – Especially southern whites and freedmen • Many disputes often over seemingly small but symbolically freighted actions • How radical would transformations be? • One of the most fateful moments in US history • Yet one of the least represented
  4. 4. Uncomfortable truths • For small-government conservatives, must confront the reality that heavy government intervention would have been necessary to enforce basic rights for freedmen and women • For those on the left, must confront the fact that military occupation and the suspension of civil liberties would have been necessary to enforce equality
  5. 5. Lincoln’s 10% Plan • Outlined in his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (Dec. 1863) – Concerned those parts of Confederacy under Union control • Individuals who took an oath of loyalty received a full pardon and repatriation – Including restoration of all citizenship and property rights, “except as to slaves” – Ineligible: • high-ranking civil and diplomatic officers • high-ranking officers in the Confederate Army and Navy • former members of Congress • those who mistreated POWs
  6. 6. 10 Percent Plan, cont. • States would retain the same names, boundaries, and laws, except as concerned slavery • Any provision adopted “in relation to the freed people…which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive.” – What did this mean?
  7. 7. What was Lincoln thinking? • Plan should be seen as a war measure – Sought to give loyal or ambivalent southerners a way back to the Union • Political calculations – At the time, Lincoln worried about the upcoming presidential election – Feared that, if the Democrats won, they would overturn emancipation entirely • Reflected Lincoln’s view that he was fighting a rebellion, not a civil war – States shouldn’t have to go through an elaborate re- entry process; they’d never really left
  8. 8. Reaction to Lincoln’s plan • Many Democrats thought the plan went way too far – They still supported states’ rights – And still wanted reunion without an end to slavery • Radical Republicans thought it didn’t go far enough – They wanted to punish Confederates; reconstruct the South; aid freedmen • By the war’s end, 3 Union-occupied states had qualified for re-admittance under Lincoln’s plan – LA, AK, TN all had functioning Unionist governments – But Congress refused to seat their elected representatives
  9. 9. Wade-Davis Bill • Congress passed in mid 1864 – Challenged Presidential control – Gave Senate veto power over provisional southern governors – Senate would also have to approve new state constitutions – Much harsher toward Confederates • Required 50% of 1860 electors to sign loyalty oath • Only those who swore an “Ironclad Oath” could design new state constitutions • Excluded all Confederate officers from the rank of colonel and above from voting • Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill
  10. 10. Significance of Wade-Davis • Raised two the biggest issues on which Reconstruction turned: – Who would control the process? – Exactly how much “reconstruction” would the South undergo?
  11. 11. Lincoln’s final thoughts • Last cabinet meeting in April 1865: “We can’t undertake to run state governments in all these states. The people must do that—though I reckon that at first some of them may do it badly.” • Seems likely that Reconstruction would have been far more “moderate” if Lincoln had lived • But he did indicate support for extending the vote to at least some blacks – Educated; soldiers
  12. 12. Andrew Johnson • Devout Unionist – Despised “slave power” • No formal schooling • TN Senator – Did not vacate his seat when TN seceded • War Democrat • Terribly rigid
  13. 13. Johnson’s plan • In some ways resembled the Wade-Davis Bill – Denied amnesty to more people than Lincoln • Disenfranchised essentially all elites – Wanted to retain confiscated land • BUT – He offered personal, presidential pardons to Confederate elites – And he did not require any percentage of electors to take a loyalty oath before forming new governments
  14. 14. Johnson, cont. • Ended up being very lenient – Handed out some 13,500 pardons • Proved to be an old-line Democrat • Uncomfortable with imposing federal authority – No interest in securing rights for freed people • Why? – Racism – Re-election concerns: trying to build a new coalition – Personal/class resentment • He loved giving pardons to his social “betters”
  15. 15. Postwar South • Physical devastation and social collapse – Rise in criminality, violence • No functioning court system • Whites horrified by blacks’ new freedoms – Acquiring previously banned goods • alcohol, guns, dogs, etc. – Holding meetings; separate church services – Refusing to follow racial “etiquette” – Mobility • 1865-70: Black population in southern cities doubled
  16. 16. Struggle over labor • Black women began refusing to perform domestic work for whites & withdrew labor from fields • Black workers began refusing to stay on plantations or submit to discipline • White southerners understood that to revive the economy, they needed control of the workforce – Some attempts to import immigrant workers from Asia and Europe, but didn’t pan out
  17. 17. Ex-Confederate Defiance • All states passed Black Codes designed to perpetuate subordination of African Americans – Sought to reinstitute slavery in all but name – Banned from carrying firearms, consuming alcohol, marrying whites, etc. – Vagrancy laws • When Congress convened in Dec. 1865, representatives sent from the South included: – Vice President Alexander Stephens, a number of ex- Confederate generals and colonels, and six men who had served in Jefferson Davis’ cabinet • Northern congressmen refuse to seat them
  18. 18. Showdown in 1866 • Congress passed two important bills in early 1866 – Extending the Freedman’s Bureau – Nation’s first Civil Rights Act • Outlawed state laws discriminating against blacks – Nullified black codes • Anyone born in U.S. “other than an Indian” was a citizen with federally protect rights – Right to a jury trial, the right to bring legal suits, the right to testify in court, and the right to serve on juries, etc. • Johnson vetoed both bills – Claimed the Civil Rights Act violated states’ rights and would bring “discord among the races” • Congress passed new laws overriding Johnson’s veto
  19. 19. Power began shifting to Congress • Initially, white southerners seemed prepared to accept whatever terms the Union imposed • But conflict within the federal government over how Reconstruction should proceed emboldened them – Seemed like the President was on their side • Violence towards blacks escalated • And in reaction, Radical Republicans swept the election in November 1866

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