Historians are right to call Reconstruction one of the “darkest” times in American history. Nobody was sure of anything. After the Union victory over the Confederacy, politicians were tasked with trying to mend a nation divided down the middle. It was a time of many questions (Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, 2008).
Questions ranging from: What would be the conditions of readmitting the Confederate States back into the Union? Who would be tasked with creating the terms, Congress or the President? What was to become of the Confederate leaders? What labor system would be replacing slavery? What would former slaves social status be (Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, 2008)?
In the end, three different plans emerged to try and reconstruct the Union and Confederacy back into the United States of America. President Lincoln, President Johnson, and Congress each had their own opinions on how reconstruction should work (Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia, 2008).
To begin with, Abraham Lincoln began trying to reconstruct the United States of America before the war even ended. It was his deepest desire to make the United States a whole again rather then severely punish the Confederate States. President Lincoln’s first step was in December 1863. He “issued a proclamation of amnesty and reconstruction for areas of the Confederacy captured by the Union Army”. His “offer came with a pardon to any Confederate who would swear to support the Constitution and the Union”. Next, “after one tenth of a conquered state’s total population that voted in 1860 took the oath; they would have to organize a government that abolished slavery”. Once such a government was in place for the state seeking amnesty, President Li...
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...d, it guaranteed nobody in the United States including the Supreme Court or President could deny a black person citizenship rights on the basis of racial inequality. In addition to passing the Fourteenth Amendment Congress required all southern states ratify the Fourteenth Amendment in addition to the Thirteenth Amendment before gaining re admission to the Union. By 1868, most of the southern states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment (Aboukhadijeh, 2012).
If I had been in charge of reconstruction during this time, I would have sided with congress. Without holding southern plantation owners, Politian’s, and officers accountable for their actions nothing was going to change. I believe their idea of an “Ironclad Oath” and ratifying both the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment would be a must before any Confederate state would be granted permission to re enter the Union.
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