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After the end of the Civil War over 250,000 Confederate soldiers had died and four million freed black Americans were in need of work and education. The agrarian economy of the South was crippled as a result of burned plantations and little livestock. Southern planters were also without free labor. Much of the land had been seized by the federal government. The South needed to be rebuilt. Work would become available to build roads, bridges, railroads, homes and other infrastructure

Prior to the surrender at Appomattox which ended the Civil War, Congress had ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which formally abolished slavery. Republican President Abraham Lincoln had also proposed a plan to reconstruct the south after states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment and ended slavery. Lincoln wanted to restore the states to the union fairly and rebuild the south. Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan included the following: 

1. Confederate criminal amnesty
2. State government after 10% of the voters swear allegiance to the Union 3. No enforcement of the African American vote
A group of Republicans led by Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner felt Lincoln’s reconstruction plans were too lenient and should include guarantees of African American equality. They were known as the Radical Republicans. After Lincoln was assassinated and his Democratic Vice President Andrew Johnson became president, the reconstruction plans changed. Johnson had formerly owned enslaved people and understood the attitude of Southerners. His plans were more lenient than Lincoln's. Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan included the following:

1. Confederate criminal amnesty 
2. No enforcement of the African American vote
3. State government with no limits on voter allegiance  In 1865 Congress established a federal agency called the Freedmen’s Bureau that was charged with distributing food to formerly-enslaved people and establishing schools to educate them. The...
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