Overview of Johnson's Plan

by: Ajay Benny

Freedman's Beurau

The Freedman's Bureau was established on March 3, 1865, which was almost two months before general Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant of the Union, essentially ending the Civil War. It was an institution designed to help the Confederate states to be readmitted into the Union, and to give former slaves rights and certain freedoms. Johnson had disapproved of this plan and vetoed bills that extended the tenure of the Bureau, on the grounds that it interfered with states rights. Congress promptly overruled Johnson's veto, and released a revised version of the bill. Johnson then took actions-such as pardoning Confederate leaders and removing employees that were too sympathetic to African Americans-to limit their power.

Civil Rights Act of 1866

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 granted citizenship to all people that are born or naturalized in the United States (this act excludes Native Americans however). All of these citizens, and their property, will be protected by the law. Andrew Johnson then vetoed the act. Congress overrules his veto, which marks the first time in American history that Congress overrules a veto.

The Black Codes

The black codes were a series of restrictions that applied to African Americans to limit the extent of their rights. The civil right code give them some extra rights, such as marriage, ability to sue, and to own property. But it prohibits the marriage of an African American and a white person. Vagrancy laws pressured African Americans to sign labor contracts, and also stated that vagrants can be arrested and punished. But this did not apply to white vagrants, as they can simply take an oath to poverty. Black orphans can be forced to become apprentices until 21 years old for a male, and 18 for a female. It also banned African Americans from possessing fire arms, making or selling alcohol or come into a state without a bond for "good behavior".

Was all of this worth it for freed slaves?

While African Americans were released from the oppressive treatment of white slave owners, I do not think that they were living a better lifestyle of a free African American. This especially applies in the south. They have been granted some rights, but there are many restrictions to their everyday lifestyle. They are unable to a good majority of practices that a white man is allowed to participate in. A lot of them have no other oppertunities presented to them, so they are forced to go back into labor at a plantation in a cheap substitute from the unjust practice that they were just freed from. So while more freedom was given to former slaves, the overall quality of life did not improve for African Americans in the United States.