The American Civil War led to vast social and political consequences in the United States. While the Union experienced economic growth and triumph, the Confederacy’s losing brought an inevitable destruction wave, and a feeling of betrayal to the nation. The handling of the freedmen’s future, as well as the way of achieving reintegration of seceded states was a primary concern for the United States. Under this context, the governing president, Abraham Lincoln, issued the Reconstruction Plan, which addressed mainly the formerly mentioned problems. After Lincoln’s death in 1865, president Andrew Johnson continued enforcing the Reconstruction Plan. However, the circumstances and historical pressures concerning the country’s well being during Johnson’s presidency pushed him to transform the original plan into a more politically-aggressive and a less socially-oriented one. The purpose of this analysis is to find what political, social and economic reasons led Lincoln to create the Reconstruction Plan, and which led Johnson to transform it? This research ranges from 1863, when the original Plan was created, to 1869, the end of the Presidential Reconstruction. The methods employed are the analysis of primary sources including sections of the original and modified Reconstruction Plans, as well as the circumstances surrounding both presidencies, with the purpose of understanding how the context in which each Reconstruction Plan was written affected it.
B. Summary of Sources
* When the Civil War started, the North was not ready for war. Lincoln’s army was in disarray and it was a challenge to rebuild it. Weapons were old, supplies old, and personnel were limited. The Southern commanders were stronger than his, because they had experience in previous wars. (Berkin, Et.Al., Ch. 19) * Lincoln was fighting a war waged essentially for a moral cause, and he had to retain the high moral ground, but he had also to keep the country together. He had to be a pragmatist without descending into opportunism. His generals, for military purposes, began to issue local emancipation degrees. (Johnson, 468) * Religion started taking an important toll in the war. The Churches of the same religion argued for or against slavery depending on their location (North or South) “It may be that the splits in the Churches made a final split in the Nation possible” (Sanders) * Lincoln started seeing including God’s will as another war effort. Thus, even when he was a free-soiler, he approached the problem of emancipating the slaves. This changed the object for which the war was being fought. Lincoln had entered it to preserve the Union. By 1862 he was convinced that, by divine providence, the Union was safe, and it was his duty to make all people of the United States free. (Johnson, 471) * Lincoln created the Freedmen’s Bureau to socially assist freedmen. He also proclaimed his Plan for Amnesty and Reconstruction in December 1963, in which he asked for 10% of the electoral collegiate in each state to vow loyalty to the Union for the State to be reaccepted. His practical step was proposing the 13th amendment to grant liberty to the slaves. He was also in favor of the 14th amendment, to grant citizenship to blacks. However, he didn’t live to see this for he was murdered in 1865. (Franklin, 98) * Andrew Johnson, the new president, was a Southerner, and a lifelong Democrat. He wasn’t as morally oriented as Lincoln. His plan was still based on forgiveness, however, he began his term with a violent denunciation of all rebels as traitors who ought to be hanged. (102) * After emancipation, “…slavery was breaking down, even in parts of the South that was not yet under Union rule. Slaves were walking off plantations, as there was no one to prevent them or hunt them down once they were at liberty.” (Johnson, 493) * Johnson knew he had to re-establish political, economical and social order. He issued a new proclamation. He...
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