Reconstruction: The period of time from 1865 to 1877 in which the United States worked to fix the Union and readmit the Southern succeeded states.
Plans for Reconstruction
President Lincoln's Plan was to bring the Southern states back into the Union quickly. He did not go to war to tear them apart, but yet to bring the Union together as shown in his plans. President Lincoln went by the 10% Plan which replaced majority rule with "royal rule" in the South. This means that only 10% of the people had to agree, and didn't consult Congress. This plan also gave a pardon to all of the highest ranking military and civilian confederate offices to help smooth the regain of the South into the Union. When 10% of the voting population in the 1860 election had taken an oat of loyalty and established a government, it would be recognized as a state.
Johnson, like Lincoln, thought that the states never truly left the union. His plan was the 10% plus plan that required them to take a simple oath and even if they were once a confederate officer, they received their rights back to help gain the states back into the Union. Johnson said that their Constitution must say that they will not have slavery, it must say that they never succeeded, and they must agree to pay off all debts. They also were to name temporary Governors in the Confederate States. The effects of his plan were that some Confederates lost their rights, it brought the rich back into power (who did not like Blacks either), and Republicans were outraged that the rich were allowed into power. Many Southern States' Constitutions fell short of the minimum requirements, so Johnson granted 13,500 special pardons which turned in to the revival of southern defiance and the black codes.
Congress thought The Wade Davis Bill would be the way to go in 1864. The Wade Davis Bill stated that 50% of the number of the 1860 voters had to take an "ironclad" oath of allegiance. This oath made them swear that they had never voluntarily aided in the rebellion. This bill required a state constitutional convention before the election of the state officials. This plan would be very hard to complete, thus a slower regain of the Southern states into the Union. Lincoln vetoed this bill. Congress also had the Radical Plan for Readmission where Civil authorities were subject to military supervision This stated that they could send the military to the South to force their plan. It also stated that the South must ratify the 13th and 14th Amendments and put them in their state constitutions. The army would enforce this. In February of 1866, Congress breaks with the President. The President vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau bill, and in March, Johnson vetoed the 1866 Civil Rights Act. Therefore, Congress passed both bills over Johnson's vetoes for the first time in history.
The 3 Civil Rights Amendments
The 13th Amendment
The 13th Amendment is the Constitutional Amendment that abolished slavery. It was ratified in December of 1865.
The 14th Amendment
The 14th Amendment was ratified in July, 1868. This amendment provided a constitutional guarantee of the rights and security of freed people. It required states to extend equal citizenship to African Americans and others. This also stated that Southern states would be punished for denying the right to vote to black citizens.
The 15th Amendment
The 15th Amendment, drafted by the Republicans, guaranteed federal voting that was not to be denied by race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It's meaning is otherwise known as "All men could vote!" It was ratified in 1870. It brought joy to African Americans, yet it brought anger to Women's Rights Groups.
African Americans during the Reconstruction
The Black Codes
The Black Codes limited the rights of African Americans. They guaranteed stable labor supply now that the blacks were emancipated, for some stayed on farms and became employees. Many thought that because the slaves were now free, they could do as they chose, but once they became workers, their bosses established The Black Codes to control them once again. These codes restored the pre-emancipation system of race relations, and forced many African Americans to become share-croppers. Through The Black Codes, the African Americans' status's unfortunately did not improve, and their lives were very similar to being slaves once again.
The states decided on their own to put the stipulation on voting that you could not vote until you payed a poll tax and you passed a literacy test. This was easy for the white population, for they all had money to pay the taxes and they had an education to pass the test. Unfortunately it was not the same for the poor African Americans. They, for many reasons were in debt and had no money, so the poll tax could not be payed, and they had never earned an education to even come close to passing the literacy test. This was the states' way of not allowing them to vote, for they weren't denying the right to vote, but they were just putting a stipulation on it. This would have been the blacks' chance to speak out, and show others what they stood for, but for many African Americans, this wasn't a possibility.
Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1866, otherwise known as the "Invisible Empire of the South" was against blacks, and whites who tried helping blacks. They would do anything to hurt and kill blacks and sympathizers of blacks. They wore masks to hide who they were as they attacked. This set the African Americans back for many reasons; they were not only segregated and not aloud to vote, but they lost valuable family members and friends. The Enforcement Act, in 1870 and 1871, stated that the government could send military into any area in need of assistance to stop violence. This was also known as the "KKK Act."
The Black Codes
The Black Codes made life for blacks very similar to when they were slaves.
Carpetbaggers were mainly northern whites who fought for Southern freedom.
The Ku Klux Klan was a very violent group that was against the blacks and black sympathizers.
The Freedmen's Bureau of 1865 helped freed slaves by giving them money, property and other things. Many former northern abolitionists risked their lives to help southern freedom. These people were called "carpetbaggers" by white southern democrats. Many Southerners thought the Freedmen's Bureau was a government handout and that the African Americans didn't have to work for it.
Civil Rights Act of 1875
This Act stated that there would be crime for any individual who denied full and equal use of public services and places to others. It also prohibited discrimination in jury selection. The shortcoming of this act, though, was that it lacked a strong enforcement mechanism. This act would have help the African Americans become equal, if only it was enforced.
African Americans' Attempt at Protecting Their Rights
Many Historically Black Colleges were established in the South to help African Americans earn an education to help them succeed in their new lives. Several colleges were established in the South during the Reconstruction, for there were not many before, although there were a few in the North. Another step they took to a more equal future was in the Senate and the House. Blacks were politically unprepared to vote because they had never voted before, and they had a lack of education. By blacks joining in the Senate and the House, this helped them become informed and helped their opinion be heard. During the Reconstruction, many African Americans joined political groups, such as the Union Leagues to help broaden their political education. They also formed mutual relationships and societies to help them step out.
The Reconstructions' Closing
The Compromise of 1877
The Compromise of 1877 was an agreement to settle the disputed presidential election of 1876. This compromise's results were that the Democrats agreed to accept the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as president in return for the removal of federal troops in the South. It denied federal protection, and the last of the Reconstruction governments fell. This helped settle the presidential election and stop any feud. They made this deal, struck by leading Republicans and southern Democrats, as a way of keeping another outbreak from starting; it was done to once again keep the United States together in harmony.