Johnson's Plan

By Gabby Lazare

Overview

Johnson's Plan for reconstruction called for each state to withdraw and swear allegiance to the Union. He also wanted all states entering back into the union to ratify the 13th Amendment. Lastly, it called for no pardon to high ranking confederates or owning property over $20,000.

Issues in response to Johnson's Plan:

Freedmen's Bureau

The Freedmen's Bureau was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. Around 4 million slaves gained their freedom as a result of the Union victory in the war, and it provided the slaves with food, housing and medical aid, established schools and offered legal assistance. It also attempted to settle former slaves on Confederate lands confiscated or abandoned during the war. they were prevented of fully carrying out their program because the politics of race and Reconstruction.

Civil Rights Act 1866

This Act granted citizenship to all (excepting American Indians) and the same rights as white citizens in the United States "without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude." President Johnson vetoed the Act with near unanimous Republican support. President Johnson disagreed with the level of federal intervention implied by the legislation, calling it " another step.... toward centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the national government".

Black Codes

The Black Codes were laws passed in southern states that had the intent and the effect of restricting African Americans' freedom, and of compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt.

Black Codes from South Carolina

1. Civil Rights: this code declared that “persons of color” now had the right “to acquire, own and dispose of property; to make contracts; to enjoy the fruits of their labor; to sue and be sued; and to receive protection under the law in their persons and property.” Also, the code recognized African American marriages and families.

2. Labor Contracts: The form allowed black servants to work for white masters and required that the wages and the term of service be in writing. The contract had to be witnessed and then approved by a judge. Other provisions of the code listed the rights and obligations of the servant and master. The form required that the wages and the term of service be in writing. The contract had to be witnessed and then approved by a judge. The law protected black servants from being forced to do “unreasonable” tasks.

3. Vagrancy: this law pressured freedmen to sign labor contracts. The code provided that vagrants could be arrested and imprisoned at hard labor. The courts customarily waived such punishment for white vagrants, allowing them to take an oath of poverty instead.

Was life truly better for the freed slaves after the Civil War?

I believe life wasn't better for freed slaves because although it was said they were freed, their life was still under control by their "masters". Freed slaves had no money or educational background which made it hard for them to find a real job, leading them into poverty. This lead to them having to work for their masters under the same circumstances but with little to no pay. Life seemed to be fairly worse for the slaves because, freedom was all they thrive for but they still ended up under the feet of the government.