Reconstruction Notes

American Pageant22

American Pageant, Chapter 22, “The Ordeal of Reconstruction”

  1. 1.                   The Problems of Peace
  • 1863: Lincoln’s 10 Percent Plan
  • 1864: Lincoln pocket-vetoes Wade-Davis Bill
  • 1865: Lincoln Assassinated
  • Johnson Reconstruction Proclamation
  • Congress refuses to seat Southern congressmen
  • Freedmen’s Bureau established
  • Southern states pass Black Codes
  • 1866: Congress passes Civil Rights Bill over Veto
  • Congress passes 14th Amendment
  • Johnson screws up congressional election—“Swinging ‘round the circle”
  • Ex parte Milligan case
  • Ku Klux Klan founded
  • 1867: Reconstruction Act
  • Tenure of Office Act
  • United States purchases Alaska from Russia
  • 1868:  Johnson impeached & acquitted
  • Johnson pardons Confederate leaders
  • 1870: Fifteenth Amendment ratified
  • 1870-1871: Force Acts
  • 1872:  Freedmen’s Bureau ended
  • 1876: Tilden- Hayes election debacle
  • 1877: Reconstruction Ends


  1. 2.                   Freedmen Define Freedom
  2. Freedman estimates, “celebrated freedom about 12 times.”
  3. Fleeing blacks warned by dangling bodies—
  4. The church—focus Black community life
    1. African Episcopal Methodist Church
    2. Baptist
    3. Mutual Aid Societies
    4. Some freedmen do remain loyal
    5. Emancipation—families have chance to unite (legal recognition of marriage) & possible education
    6. Kansas exodus
      1. 3.                   The Freedman’s Bureau, March 3, 1865—Oliver O. Howard – Know this organization forever.  Focus on what they DID accomplish.  (Think Stampp & Foner historiography) 
    7. Housing, food, jobs, legal representation  & medical aid—as well as education purpose for organization.  Met strong resistance—died 1872 from vetoes and lack of interest of northern whites.  Was successful in roots of education, church & political participation

IV.  Johnson: The Tailor President

1.  Southern Democrat?  Psychologist’s dream?  What do you think?

  1. IV.                Presidential Reconstruction
  2. Lincoln Ten-Percent Plan—Lincoln knew the nation needed the South & had to reunite
  3. Radical Republicans wanted punishment
  4. Thought 10 %
Plan would allow the Southerners to re-enslave the newly freed Black
  5. Wade-Davis Bill—required 50% of the states’ voters to take oaths of allegiance—demanded more protection for freedmen
  6. Lincoln, the politician, pocket-vetoed Wade-Davis.  Know what a pocket veto is!  Know what the Wade-Davis Bill was!
  7. Republicans outraged—refused to seat Louisiana 10 per centers.

V. Republicans Reply

  1. Two camps forming—Moderate Republicans—agree with Lincoln’s 10% plan & Radical Republicans—Confederate traitors should pay—and a new social, political & economic order be instituted in the defeated South. 
  2. Lincoln assassinated April 14, 1865—dies April 15.  Good Friday-Easter weekend.  Pulpits ablaze. 
  3. V.                   Johnson’s Reply
    1. Boss Hogs in charge—recognizes 10% governments already in place
    2. Announces Presidential plan May 29 1865:  (In order to be a part of the United States of America again, and in order to have your state be represented in Congress . . . your state must . . . .)               
      1. Disenfranchised wealthy Confederate leaders unless they came to him for a personal pardon.
      2. State conventions to repudiate Confederate debts, (sorry chap), ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, & repeal secession. 
      3. All Republicans furious & Union families of injured or lost soldiers upset.  “How could you . . .?
      4. VI.                The Baleful Black Codes:  The Newly Freed Blacks Had? & The returning Confederate Planters had?  What did they both need?
        1. 1.       Control the freed Blacks, many Southern states passed Black Codes, laws aimed at keeping the Black population in submission and workers in the fields.
        2. 2.       Blacks who “jumped” their labor contracts, or walked off their jobs, were subject to penalties and fines
        3. 3.       The codes forbade Blacks from serving on a jury
        4. 4.       Some even barred Blacks from renting or leasing land
        5. 5.       Blacks could be punished for “idleness” by being subjected to working on a chain gang—“vagrancy laws”
        6. 6.        Sharecropping—peonage—remained this way until mid 20th Century
        7. 7.       Ha? Blacks were hardly better after the war than before the war. They were not “slaves” on paper, but in reality, their lives were little different.
      5. Congressional Reconstruction
        1. December 1865 Southern “Redeemed” states came to be reintegrated into the Union
        2. Republicans were disgusted to see their former enemies on hand to reclaim seats in Congress.
        3. Republicans had already passed legislation that had favored the North: Morrill Tariff, the Pacific Railroad Act, and the Homestead Act—easy to pass without Democrat interference.
        4. However, now—the South would be stronger politically than before—Blacks counted for a whole person instead of just 3/5 of one
        5. Republicans also feared that Southern Black Codes along Northern Democrat attitudes would take over the nation  defeating all that the Civil War gained—Black freedom would not be a reality.
        6. December 6, 1865, Johnson declared that the South had satisfied all of the conditions needed, and that the Union was now restored.  Problems???
      6. VIII.           Johnson Clashes with Congress
        1. Johnson the vetoes Freedmen Bureau extension & the Civil Rights Bill of 1866—Congress overrides vetoes. 
        2. Republicans push Civil Rights Bill into 14th Amendment—just like they (& Lincoln did with the Emancipation Proclamation which was turned into??)  and why did they feel that it had to be a Constitutional Amendment?
        3. 14th Amendment did NOT give Black men the franchise—however, Republicans pushed for it.
        4. Johnson “advises” Southern states to reject the 14th—most do
      7. IX.                Swinging ‘Round the Circle with Johnson
        1. 1866 congressional elections—Johnson goes to bat to gain “soft on the South” delegates.
        2. He was so bad—he gave the opposition votes.
        3. Republicans held a 2/3 majority in both houses
      8. X.                   Republican Principles and Programs
        1. By then, the Republicans had a veto-proof Congress and nearly unlimited control over Reconstruction, but moderates and radicals still couldn’t agree with one another.
        2. Senate—Charles Sumner
        3. House—Thaddeus Stevens
        4. The radicals wanted to keep the South out of the Union as long as possible and totally change its economy and the moderates wanted a quicker Reconstruction. What happened was a compromise between the two extremes.

XI. Reconstruction by Sword

  1. The Reconstruction Act of March 2, 1867
  2. Divided the South into five military zones
  3. temporarily disfranchised tens of thousands of former Confederates,
  4.  laid down new guidelines for the readmission of states (Johnson had announced the Union restored, but Congress had not yet formally agreed on this).

                                                           All states had to approve the 14th Amendment, making all Blacks citizens.

                                                           All states had to guarantee full suffrage of all male former slaves.

  1. The 15th Amendment, passed by Congress in 1869, gave Blacks their right to vote.
  2. In the case Ex parte Milligan (1866), the Supreme Court ruled that military tribunals could not try civilians, even during wartime, if there were civil courts available.
  3. 1870, all of the states had complied with the standards of Reconstruction, and in 1877, the last of the states were given their home rule back, and Reconstruction ended.

                                                           The end of Reconstruction was part of the Compromise of
1877—the two presidential candidates were at a stalemate and the only way to break the stalemate was with a deal. In the deal, the North got their president (Rutherford B. Hayes) and the South got the military to pull-out (abandon?) the South and the former slaves, thus ending

  1. .

XIII. The Realities of Radical Reconstruction in the South

  1. Blacks began to organize politically, and their main vehicle was the Union League.

                                                           It became a network of political clubs that educated members in their civic duties and campaigned for Republican candidates, and later even built Black churches and schools, represented Black grievances, and recruited militias to protect Blacks.

                                                           Black women attended the parades and rallies of Black communities.

  1. Black men also began to hold political offices, as men like Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce served in Congress (they represented Mississippi).

III.Southern Whites hated seeing their former slaves now ranking above them, and they also hated “scalawags,” Southerners who were accused of plundering Southern treasuries and selling out the Southerners, and “carpetbaggers,” Northerners accused of parasitically milking power and profit in a now-desolate South.

IV.One could note that Southern governments were somewhat corrupted during these times.

XIV. The Ku Klux Klan

  1. Extremely racist Whites who hated the Blacks founded the invisible Empire of the South,” or Ku Klux Klan, in Tennessee in 1866—an organization that scared Blacks into not voting or not seeking jobs, etc… and often resorted to violence against the Blacks in addition to terror.
  2. This radical group undermined much of what abolitionists sought to do.

XV. Johnson Walks the Impeachment Plank

  1. Radical Republicans were angry with President Johnson, and they decided to try to get rid of him.
  2. In 1867, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which provided that the president had to secure the consent of the Senate before removing his appointees once they had been approved by the Senate (one reason was to keep Edwin M. Stanton, a Republican spy, in office).

III.However, when Johnson dismissed Stanton early in 1868, the Republicans impeached him.

XVI. A Not-Guilty Verdict for Johnson

  1. Johnson was not allowed to testify by his lawyers, who argued that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional and Johnson was acting under the Constitution, not the law.
  2. On May 16, 1868, Johnson was acquitted of all charges by a single vote, as seven Republican senators with consciences voted not guilty” (interestingly, those seven never secured a political office again afterwards).

III.Die-hard radicals were infuriated by the acquittal, but many politicians feared establishing a precedence of removing the president through impeachment.

XVII. The Purchase of Alaska

  1. In 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward bought Alaska from Russia to the United States for $7.2 million, but most of the public jeered his act as “Seward’s Folly” or Seward’s Ice-box.”
  2. Only later, when oil and gold were discovered, did Alaska prove to be a huge bargain.

XVIII. The Heritage of Reconstruction

  1. Many Southerners regarded Reconstruction as worse than the war itself, as they resented the upending of their social and racial system.
  2. The Republicans, though with good intentions, failed to improve the South, and the fate of Blacks would remain poor for almost another century before the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s secured Black privileges.


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