Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction

by Nick Ownbey

Johnson's Plan

  • Each state had to withdraw succession and swear allegiance to the Union
  • Ratify 13th Amendment
  • No pardons to high ranking Confederates or those owning property worth more than $20000

Freedmen's Bureau

  • Congress established the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Land to help freed slaves and poor whites with housing, medical aid, schools, and legal assistance.
  • Johnson vetoed legislature extending its powers, pardoned many Confederates, restored their land, and removed bureau employees he thought were too sympathetic to blacks, undermining the bureau.

Civil Rights Act 1866

  • Gave equal benefits and proceedings to all citizens, which included all born in the United States.
  • Johnson vetoed it, saying that it gave the federal government too much power.

Black Codes

  • Laws applying to anyone with more than one-eighth Negro blood.
  • Labor Contracts: Black "servants" could sign a contract to work for white "masters". They were treated much like slaves, but had slightly more rights.
  • Vagrancy: White vagrants were let off for an oath of poverty, but black vagrants were pressured to sign labor contracts.
  • Courts, Crimes, and Punishment: Blacks had a separate court system and often received the death penalty or other harsh punishments a white man would not receive.

Written Response

Life was better for some blacks after the Civil War. However, many were forced back into situations similar to slavery and heavily discriminated against, partially due to policies in place as a result of Andrew Johnson's presidency. Segregation and unequal treatment by the law resulted in terrible conditions for blacks. Overall, treatment was still very poor, just in a different way.