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Civil War Reconstruction Essay

1874 words - 8 pages

In 1861, after decades of tension between the north and the south within the nation over issues including states rights and federal authority, westward expansion and slavery, the nation evolved into a Civil War. The election of Republican Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860 had caused southern states to secede from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. The south felt out-numbered from partisan radical politics. The war between the South and North was a four-year awful and destructive war. After the war had ended in 1865, there were 750,000 soldiers dead from both sides. Slavery was abolished by the thirteenth amendment, the union had won, but the nation was still divided ...view middle of the document...

Political leaders like Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner felt that the civilians and militia from the former Confederacy should be punished. Such leaders felt that President Lincoln was too easy on the South, and they did not want the Southern states brought back into the Union too easily. There were strong emotional disagreement on the issues regarding reconstruction between conservatives, moderates and radicals.
President Lincoln wanted a fair reconstruction policy in hopes keep the success from those bloody and awful battles a remained victory. He wanted the terms to be pleasing and accessible to the defeated South. He also wanted to encourage the southern unionists to rejoin the Republican Party. President Lincoln saw this as an opportunity to build up an even stronger alliance. If President Lincoln and his cabinet had both the union re-preserved and the Southern states loyalty; it could become the basis of a new loyal state government in the southern states. Overall President Lincoln was more concerned with reconstructing the territory and the economy of the South than the fate of the freed slaves or poor Southern whites. But still Lincoln wanted their future to be balanced with rapid unification for both former black slaves and poor southern whites.
Lincoln announced his reconstruction plan on December 1863. He offered a general amnesty to the South. President Lincoln wanted more loyal pledges to the Union other than high officials of the Confederacy. Lincoln’s pledge request was simple- it was known as the 10 percent plan. It stated that those who swore loyalty to the United States Federal Government and accepted the elimination of slavery were welcomed back into the Union. This would allow local governments in each state that had ten percent of their population committed to the Union. This was a good deal for the South, but without an agreement those states that could not meet the 10 percent requirement were left out of the union’s rebuilding process and instead would remain under Union occupation. The radical Republicans, purists to the Constitution, were astonished by the mildness of President Lincoln’s plan. Instead radical leaders, Henry Winter Davis and Benjamin Wade proposed a tougher plan of action-The Wade-Davis bill in July of 1864. It placed a provisional governor for each conquered state until the majority of each state, not only 10 percent, promised an oath to the Union. Then those Governors could call a constitutional convention. Delegates were to be elected by those who had sworn an, “Ironclad Oath.” For each state under the Wade Davis Bill, it was a much longer and detail-attentive process. For each state, their Constitution would have abolished slavery, Confederate Civil and military leaders could not vote, or repudiate debts accumulated during the war. After each state agreed to those three terms, only then could the Southern States rejoin the Union. Both plans were an equally strong step forward in reconstructed...

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