What is the reconstruction era?
The period after the Civil War in which the states formerly part of the Confederacy were brought back into the United States.
- Andrew Johnson became President after Lincoln was assassination.
- President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Presidential pardons.
- Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Johnson's program. They gained the support of northerners who were dismayed to see Southerners keeping many prewar leaders and imposing many prewar restrictions upon Negroes.
- In March 1867, the Radicals effected their own plan of Reconstruction, again placing southern states under military rule.
- They passed laws placing restrictions upon the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him.
- He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote.
- He was a Radical Republican leader and one of the most powerful members in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- He focused much of his political attention on civil rights, eventually helping to draft the 14th Amendment.
- The abolition of slavery slowly became Steven's primary political focus.
- He dominated the House during Reconstruction and proposed the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Stevens died in Washington, D.C. on August 11, 1868.
- The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed.
- The amendment had been rejected by most Southern states but was ratified by the required three-fourths of the states.
- Known as the "Reconstruction Amendment," it forbids any state to deny any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
- Women attempted to use it to proclaim their right to vote, and African Americans tried to use it as well.
- The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau) provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves and impoverished whites in the Southern States and the District of Columbia.
- The Bureau was established in the War Department in 1865 to undertake the relief effort and the unprecedented social reconstruction that would bring freedpeople to full citizenship.
- It issued food and clothing, operated hospitals and temporary camps, helped locate family members, and promoted education.
- The bureau was run by the War Department, and its first and most important commissioner was General O.O. Howard, a Civil War hero sympathetic to blacks. The Bureau's task was to help the Southern blacks and whites make the transition from slavery to freedom.