September 20, 2012
At the end of the civil war in 1865, the government of the United States had to solve some delicate problems. How should the former confederate states be treated after their defeat? What should happen with the freedmen, the former slaves that were supposed to live as citizens now? Should the southern states be punished, should they reenter the Union and which conditions would they have to fulfill therefore? The way to manage these problems is known as “Reconstruction”. There were three main Reconstruction plans: Lincoln`s Presidential Reconstruction, Johnson`s Presidential Reconstruction and the Radical Reconstruction. A main different between these three plans were the terms the southern states would have to meet to reenter the Union. While Lincoln’s plan required only high ranked military leaders to request a presidential pardon, Johnsons plan also included rich southerners to those who had to ask for a pardon. Nevertheless, the main goals of Johnson’s reconstruction plan were similar to those of Lincoln’s plan: forming a new society without slavery but with equal rights for all rights regardless of their race and developing the southern economy since the economic mainstay, the slaves were no longer supposed to be property of their slaveholders. To achieve these goals, African Americans would receive education. Many white southerners feared the thought that African Americans would ‘take over’ their country both through politics and violence. W. Gilmore Simms, a southern novelist who explained his fears to a friend in a letter even expected a ‘war of race’ in which freedmen would be ‘plundering & burning towns & villages’ (Simms, 1868) . Because many white southerners thought in the way that Simms thought, they founded groups and organizations that started terrorizing African Americans and those who tried to support them. There were many reasons for white southerners to think and...
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