The Ordeal of Reconstruction

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I. The Problems of Peace

I.After the war, there were many questions over what to do with the free Blacks, such as how to reintegrate the Southern states into the Union, what to do with Jefferson Davis, and who would be in charge of Reconstruction? II.The Southern way of life had been ruined, as crops and farms were destroyed, the slaves had been freed, the cities were burnt down, but still, and many Southerners remained defiant.

II. Freedmen Define Freedom

I.At first, the freed Blacks faced a confusing situation, as many slave owners re-enslaved their slaves after Union troops left. Other planters resisted emancipation through legal means, citing that emancipation wasn’t valid until local or state courts declared it. II.Some slaves loyally stuck to their owners while others let out their pent-up bitterness by pillaging their former masters’ land, property, and even whipping the old master. III.Eventually, even resisting plantation owners had to give up their slaves, and afterwards tens of thousands of Blacks took to the roads to find new work or look for lost loved ones. IV.The church became the focus of the Black community life in the years following the war. Emancipation also meant education for Blacks, but despite all the gains Blacks made, they still faced severe discrimination and would have to wait a century before truly attaining their rights. III. The Freedman’s Bureau

I.In order to train the unskilled and unlettered freed Blacks, the Freedman’s Bureau was set up on March 3, 1865. Union General Oliver O. Howardheaded it. II.The bureau taught about 200,000 Blacks how to read (its greatest success), since most former slaves wanted to narrow the literary gap between them and Whites; the bureau also read the word of God. III.However, it wasn’t as effective as it could have been, as evidenced by the further discrimination of Blacks, and it expired in 1872 after much criticism by racist Whites. IV. Johnson: The Tailor President

I.Andrew Johnson came from very poor and humble beginnings, and he served in Congress for many years (he was the only Confederate congressman not to leave Congress when the rest of the South seceded). II.He was feared for his reputation of having a short temper and being a great fighter, was a dogmatic champion of states’ rights and the Constitution, and he was a Tennessean who never earned the trust of the North and never regained the confidence of the South. V. Presidential Reconstruction

I.Since Abraham Lincoln believed that the South had never legally withdrawn from the Union, restoration was to be relatively simple. In his plan for restoring the union, the southern states could be reintegrated into the Union if and when they had only 10% of its voters pledge and taken an oath to the Union, and also acknowledge the emancipation of the slaves; it was appropriately called the Ten Percent Plan. Like the loving father who welcomed back the prodigal son, Lincoln’s plan was very forgiving to the South. II.The Radical Republicans felt punishment was due the South for all the years of strife. They feared that the leniency of the 10 % Plan would allow the Southerners to re-enslave the newly freed Blacks, so they rammed the Wade-Davis Bill through Congress. It required 50% of the states’ voters to take oaths of allegiance and demanded stronger safeguards for emancipation than the 10% Plan. III.However, Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill by letting it expire, and the 10% Plan remained. IV.It became clear that there were now two types of Republicans: the moderates, who shared the same views as Lincoln and the radicals, who believed the South should be harshly punished. Sadly though, Lincoln was assassinated. This left the 10% Plan’s future in question. When Andrew Johnson took power, the radicals thought that he would do what they wanted, but he soon proved them wrong by basically taking Lincoln’s policy and issuing his own Reconstruction proclamation: certain leading Confederates were...
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