Analysis of the Three Plans for Reconstruction
The American Civil War, lasting from 1861-1865, was the most severe military conflict the country had seen; it involved the United States of America (the Union), and eleven secessionist Southern states (the Confederate States of America). The war was the upshot of decades worth of political, social, and economic conflict between the agricultural South, which produced mainly cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and sugarcane, and the industrial North. The South depended on its four million slaves for its social and economic livelihood, whereas the North despised slavery as immoral and illegal. Even before General Lee's surrender in 1865, the federal government was confronted with an acute dilemma, how to reunite the country. First Lincoln, then Johnson, and lastly Congress, imposed their ideas of how best to restore the Union, that is to say properly execute the task of Reconstruction.
Reconstruction was initiated by incumbant President Abraham Lincoln before the war ended. On December 8, 1963, Lincoln revealed his rather extremely lenient Reconstruction plan. He proposed to grant a pardon to any confederate (excluding high-ranking officials), who would swear their allegiance to the Union and accept the end of slavery. If ten percent of the 1860 voting population had taken the oath, that state would hold a constitutional convention. If the delegates had written a state constitution endorsing the 13th Amendment, that state could be re-admitted to the Union.
Andrew Johnson, President Lincoln's Vice President, and successor after his assassination in April of 1865, unveiled his own Reconstruction plan on May 29 of the same year. Johnson's plan, which closely resembled Lincoln's, said the President would appoint a governor to each state (after ten percent of the 1860 population took the oath Lincoln had prescribed in 1863), who would convene a constitutional convention. At this convention, the...
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