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Abraham Lincoln is widely recognized as one of the greatest presidents in history. He began his presidency in March of 1861. Lincoln’s election caused seven of the southern states to break away from the union and soon after, four more states followed their lead. Just one month after the election began The Civil War. The war was a result of tension built up between the northern and southern states. They had opposing views on slavery, states’ rights and westward expansion. This War Between the States cost a lot of lives. It is known to be the deadliest and most disastrous battle to ever take place on American soil.
By 1863, Lincoln decided to start planning for reconstruction after the war. This is when he issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. The proclamation offered exoneration to Confederates who sworn to the Union. This meant that any seceded state could be accepted again to the Union immediately following taking an oath to the Constitution. Some Southerners had a hard time accepting the emancipation of slaves, however most did agree. President Lincoln based his plan on forgiveness. This left many Radical Republicans uneasy feeling as if the South was getting off easy.
President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, leaving Andrew Johnson to step into presidency. Johnson’s plan to reconstruction was the same as Lincoln’s. He wanted to reunite the South with the North by allowing Southerners to take an oath. He then allowed those states to make changes in their government so that slavery will no longer be allowed. Disagreements with the plan created animosity within his term in office.
Presidents Lincoln and Johnson’s reconstruction plan was designed to bring unity back to the states. The steps in which their plan followed was not favorable by the Radical Republicans. Once the South began to redesign their government, the Radical Republicans took notice of how they were limiting the rights of now freed slaves. They wanted revenge on the South. It was the Republican’s party belief that the South created the war and for that they should be punished instead of forgiven. Also, the Radicals wanted to remain superior in both the North and South.
In conclusion, Presidents Lincoln and Johnson’s plan for reconstruction differed significantly from the plan of the Radical Republicans. Lincoln and Johnson focused on forgiveness to unite the states once again while the Radicals showed no mercy and wanted the Confederates to pay for what they caused. As a result, the Southern States were made to come to terms with the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Ameendments. These amendments gave blacks freedom and the right to vote. Democrats made it their mission to remove Republican officials from their offices. They did so by collaborating with white supremacists groups like the Klu Klux Klan. It took the United States until the year of 1877 to complete the reconstruction period. During this time, the states struggled with several challenges. The destruction of The Civil War extended far beyond social and political issues. Since most of the battles took place in the South, a lot of the areas were in ruins. The end of Reconstruction can be seen as the beginning of the period of Jim Crow (McNamara, 2019).
McNamara, Robert. (2019, March 25). The Reconstruction Era (1865–1877). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/reconstruction-definition-1773394
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