From Slavery to Freedom

Topics: Reconstruction era of the United States, Southern United States, American Civil War Pages: 13 (4918 words) Published: December 5, 2012
Hale County, Alabama: From Slavery to Freedom in a Black Belt Community.   The Politics of Reconstruction The Civil War was bloodiest war in American history (600,000 soldiers died). It began as way to preserve Union but evolved into a struggle for African American freedom, resulting in the death of slavery in the United States and the unification of the states under a stronger central government. The Defeated South South destroyed after defeat: towns ruined, slavery (means of labor in cotton fields) lost, destroyed cotton fields, depressed economyii.  Defeat aroused hatred within Southerners, whom were "robbed of their slave property"iii.      Racism became one of the main forces in the South during Reconstruction Abraham Lincoln's PlanLincoln wanted to respect private property (excluding slaves) and did not want to impose harsh punishments on the South for rebellion Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction of Dec. 1863: Southerners (except Confederate military leaders) had to swear an oath of allegiance to the US and its laws (including the Emancipation Proclamation) in order to be pardoned and offered restoration of property 2.       Ten Percent Plan: When 10 percent of a state's population took this oath, Lincoln would recognize the formation of a new state government in that state ii.      Radical Republicans, such as Benjamin Wade and Henry Davis) favored the abolition of slavery at the beginning of the war, but later advocated harsh treatment of the defeated South.       Lincoln vetoed the Wade-Davis Bill, which required 50 percent of a seceding state's white male citizens to take the loyalty oath before the state could form its constitution, and it also guaranteed equality before the law for former slaves iii.      Sherman's Special Field Order 15 of 1865 set aside 400,000 acres of abandoned Southern land for forty-acre grants to freedmen iv.      The Republican Party prevented the development of a land distribution system, but supported other methods to aid the freed slaves 1.       In 1865, Congress established the Freedmen's Bureau to provide social, educational, and economic services to emancipated slaves or white Unionists, which lasted seven years v.      Lincoln's plans seemed to favor quick restoration of the South and limited federal intervention, but his policies were cut short after his assassination, when he was replaced with Andrew Johnson d.      Andrew Johnson and Presidential Reconstruction i.       Johnson was a Democrat and former slaveholder from a poor southern background who supported yeomen farmers and hated southern aristocrats ii.      He remained loyal to the Union throughout the war and held planter elite responsible for southern rebellion and defeat.  He was appointed as military governor of Tennessee in 1862 and nominated as vice president by the Republicans in the 1864 election iv.      Immediately after taking office, he appeared to side with the Radical Republicans by talking of indicting Confederate officials for treason and confiscating their property v.      Saw Reconstruction as power of the executive--not legislative—branch vi.      However, since he blamed individual planters and elite for secession rather than entire states, he proposed mild terms for reentry to the Union 1.       He followed Lincoln's policy for pardoning Southerners (excluding some Confederate officials and wealthy landowners) 2.       These men could apply for presidential pardons and Johnson pardoned 90% of those who applied 3.       December 1865: Johnson declared "restoration" of the Union complete by allowing ten of eleven Confederate states to reenter the Union vii.      Johnson was committed to white supremacy; he opposed political rights for the freedmen and determined e Radical Republican Vision i.       Radical Republicans (example: George Julian) promoted equal political rights and economic opportunity as well as a powerful national government ii.      Wanted federal government to control the...
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