Essay on Interpretation of Reconstruction After the Civil War

Essay on Interpretation of Reconstruction After the Civil War

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1. The Conservatives insisted that the South accept the abolition of slavery, however they proposed few other conditions for the readmission of seceded states. Led by Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, the Radicals on the other hand urged that the military and civil leaders of the Confederacy be punished. Also that large numbers of Southern whites be disenfranchised as well as the legal rights of former slaves are protected. The Northern Radicals were much harsher towards the South than the Conservatives, especially after hearing Lincoln’s 10% plan. They deemed it mild. However the Radicals eventually got through with the election of President Johnson. (pages 414-417)
2. The first historical interpretation of Reconstruction occurred through William A. Dunning’s harsh view. He portrayed Reconstruction as a fraudulent outrage carried out on the powerless South by vicious Northern Radical Republicans. The Reconstruction experiment only survived because of the determination of the Republican Party to remain in power. Dunning’s interpretation hel...

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