Final Exam Question 4: Contentions over Reconstruction and Ultimate its Success? First, do you think that Lincoln would have fared better in his dealings with Congress than did his successor, Andrew Johnson? How would Lincoln have behaved differently from Johnson? How did the South’s actions influence the controversies and the actions of the federal government? Abraham Lincoln would have handled Reconstruction more successfully than Andrew Johnson. Specifically, Lincoln understood the moral, political and legal responsibility of enforcing laws like the Reconstruction Acts.
He would not opposed laws from a collaboration among Republican leaders in response to Southern resistance like his successor Andrew Johnson. Disagreements over who handles Reconstruction, The best way to reconstruct the states and the integration of newly freed slaves into society would not have disappeared if Lincoln had survived his assassination. However, like previous disagreements between Lincoln and Radical Republicans over emancipation, Lincoln would change his position if it helped preserve the Union and meant enforcing national laws (Prince pgs, 9-11).
Admittedly, on the surface Andrew Johnson’s plans for Reconstruction were similar to Lincoln’s. Lincoln and Johnson both required an oath of loyalty from ten percent of the voting population in a rebelling state and the abolition of slavery. In addition, both plans did not allow top Confederate leaders to take these oaths of loyalty to receive pardons. Despite theses similarities there are important differences (Prince pgs, 9-11). Lincoln’s ten percent plan was a war time measure. His goal for the plan at that time was to cripple the Confederacy by enticing Anti-Confederate citizens to rejoin the Union and end the war.
His restoration plan did not specify what conditions had to be met to be able to vote in national elections. The plan allowed a state to create local governments and enter into relations with the United States. The plan implied that Lincoln had more plans for the Reconstruction process after the war concluded (Prince pgs, 10-11, 36). Lincoln’s main concern at that point was to win the war which was not a certain outcome at the time. Lincoln also needed to run for reelection the following year in a climate that was not completely in favor of fighting a war of emancipation.
Furthermore, Lincoln’s strategically used a pocket veto to object to the Wade Davis Bill. He objected to the bill in part because he was worried it would interfere with his plans to win the war. Lincoln’s use of the pocket veto shows he was focused on preserving the Union and was not looking for a show down with Congress like Andrew Johnson (Prince pgs, 11). In contrast, Andrew Johnson despite his plan, gave pardons to Confederate leaders and the plantation aristocracy of the Confederacy. This allowed Confederate leaders like Alexander Stephan’s to be reelected to office.
John’s plan also appointed provincial governors in the rebel states. Many of the governors were members of the previous Southern aristocracy before the Civil War. Additionally, Johnson’s Presidential Reconstruction efforts instigated Southern states to pass black codes, institute share cropping and allowed the rise of KKK’s terrorism against freed men and Republicans (Prince pgs, 13-14). Moreover, Andrew Johnson vetoed many of the collaborative efforts of the Republican Congress that came in response to Southern terrorism and attempts to subvert the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Freedman’s Bureau Bill and the Civil Rights Bill were vetoed in part because Johnson was a white supremacists who shared many of the racists view empowering these Southern acts of rebellion. In Johnson’s view the south was Reconstructed. He saw no further need for federal intervention in the Reconstructed states (Prince pgs, 15, 96). Where as Lincoln’s speeches show a moderate Republican who believed he had a moral obligation of uploading the founding principles as President of the United States (Prince pgs, 10-11).
Despite objections to the Wade Davis Bill he worked with the Radical Republicans to pass the Thirteenth Amendment. Lincoln believed in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal and in maintaining a government of the people (CP pg, 256 ). Furthermore his relationship with Fredrick Douglas would have influenced his ability to understand the precarious position freed men faced in Southern states. Consequently, Lincoln would support Congress, enforce national laws and eventually see the need for political protection for the rights of freedmen.
Lincoln had expressed in his Second Inaugural address that the Civil War had been a blood atonement payment on behalf of the North and South for the sins of slavery. Like many Republicans he would not have wanted those deaths to be in vain as the country moved forward. Under Lincoln’s leadership top Confederates would not have been pardoned and allowed to rise to power within the rebelling states (Prince pg, 36). Although the South most likely would have continued to try to subvert the federal government with share cropping, black codes, and terrorism with Lincoln in office.
Ending the war would not have eliminated years of entrenched racism in the south that lead to the war (Dew pg 81). However, had Lincoln survived, as a moderate Republican, he would come to see the wisdom and strategic necessity of the Freedman’s Bureau Bill and the Civil Rights Act. In time like other moderates, he would have also supported the Fourteenth Amendment and black suffrage. These federal laws and the Fourteenth Amendment were passed by Lincoln’s colleagues in Congress and approved by the American public (Prince pgs, 14, 15, 18).
Each of these pieces of legislation would have supported Lincoln’s own beliefs that blacks were men, citizens of the United States, that all men deserved the benefits of a right to contract and the right of blacks to sue in federal court. Some of these ideas can be derived from his series of debates against Stephan Douglas debates and in his Cooper Union Address reiecting the legal reasoning of the Dredd Scott decision (CP pgs, 144-159). While Lincoln did not openly support black suffrage, the political need for black suffrage would have become a clear egic necessity after violent Southern resistance to federal laws.
Radicals, Moderates and Conservatives united against Southern resistance through the creation of these amendments. This unification because of violence like the massacre in Tennessee would have occurred despite the absence of Andrew Johnson (Prince pgs, 15, 78-79). In contrast, Lincoln would have supported the Republican desire for federal military intervention in the south through the Reconstruction Acts. His previous orders to execute confederate prisoners for the murder of Union soldiers shows Lincoln would not have tolerated these acts of violence like President Johnson (CP pg, 235).
In spite of supporting the compromises of his fellow Republicans, Lincoln would not have supported the radical confiscation and redistribution of land. Government seizure of rebel land would violate the Fifth Amendment and the concept that U. S. citizens were not responsible for a relatives crimes. In the controversies between Johnson and the Radical Republicans, who was right? Could a middle ground have been found? How did the South’s actions influence the controversies and the actions of the federal government? Due to the determination of the South to undermine federal authority and the rampant violence against American citizens
Radical Republicans were justified in taking over Reconstruction with the Fourteenth Amendment and the Reconstruction Acts of 1867. Andrew Johnson was negligent in his executive duties to enforce federal legislation of the Civil Rights Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment. His leadership encouraged Southern resistance to federal law and safeguarded the violence and intimidation of American citizens by white supremacists groups (Prince pgs, 11-21, 95-97). The Constitution guaranteed every citizen regardless of the state they resided, the enjoyment of the same federal privileges and immunities.
Radical Republicans made several compromises with fellow moderate and conservative Republicans to achieve these laws. Radicals felt the Fourteenth Amendment did not go far enough to secure black suffrage. They also did not gain support for their programs of land redistribution (Prince pgs, 15-17, 84-86). Despite theses concern, the federal measures that did emerge were supported by an overwhelming majority of Congress and the American public. Southerners refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and continued to use violence to intimidate blacks and Republicans.
As a result Radicals convinced Congress to take over Reconstruction and restart the process leading to the passage of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867. Congressional Reconstruction placed the military temporarily in charge of enforcing federal law. The military was used to help ensure blacks gained political participation in federal elections. For the first time ever African Americans gained black suffrage and the election of African America delegates to the federal government (Prince pg, 21). The use of military enforcement created a more democratic society.
Republicans temporarily realized the only way to break down the racial hierarchy that led to the Civil War was through federal intervention and through military enforcement. However Andrew Johnson seemed determined to undermine the Radical Republicans attempts to Reconstruct the South regardless of its support by Congress and the public. As the head of the military he used his position to enforce as little of the federal legislation as possible. He further violated his duty to the citizens of the United States by violating the Tenure of Office Act (Prince pigs 18-23).
If Johnson felt the Tenure of Office Act was invalid, the proper recourse would have been to file a case with the Supreme Court not violate the law. However, Johnson should have been charged with impeachment charges related to the violation of his duty to enforce the Reconstruction Acts as President. If the appropriate charges were filed and Be Wade had recused himself since he was in line to become President, then President Andrew Johnson might have been impeached. Those two factors may have given the Radical Republicans at least one more vote to remove President Johnson (Prince pg, 23). min In the second part of your essay, consider the reasons for the Radical Republicans’ decisions to pass the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution. What were they trying to achieve? Did they succeed in achieving their goals? Do you think they were primarily seeking to use the freedmen to maintain political power in the South, or were their motives more altruistic? The Radical Republicans were trying to create an egalitarian democracy that ensured civil racial equality and political racial equality for newly freedmen.
Their motives were altruistic and aimed to reform the Southern system of racial subjugation that caused the Civil War. Radical Republicans quickly identified the abolition of slavery, citizenship rights, political participation and land ownership as the keys to fully integrating newly freed slaves into American society (Prince pgs, 5,6,7, 16). The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment was important to all Republicans because it officially abolished slavery throughout the nation.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to states within the Union and was a war time executive order. As a constitutional amendment, slavery would not be allowed throughout the entire nation. Radical Republicans ran into obstacles from the Republican party, the Presidency and Southern resistance in achieving the next stage of their reforms (Prince pg 10-11, 39). However, Southern resistance helped convince moderates and the American public that citizenship rights and equality before the law needed to be color blind.
The Fourteenth Amendment was an attempt by Radical Republicans to give African Americans full citizenship and political participation as part of the privileges and immunities clause of the Constitution. However, the political rights of suffrage for blacks were sacrificed in order to pass the amendment (Prince pg, 16). If African Americans were citizens then theoretically African Americans’ rights could not be legally violated in the eyes of northern politicians. Despite Republican efforts Southern resistance was strengthened by the lack of political participation available to African Americans.
Radical Republicans believed that it was both constitutional and a moral obligation for the federal government to embrace the role of the defenders of the national rights of United States citizens (Prince pg 16-17, 87). Without suffrage and federal enforcement blacks could not escape a political regime run by the previous Southern aristocracy. Again Southern resistance through violence, rape and murder drew moderate and conservative Republicans to reexamine the federal government’s role in Reconstruction.
Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 and eventually the Fifteenth Amendment to attempt to protect the civil rights of African Americans. Originally many Northern leaders saw the grasp war doctrines and federal intervention in state governments of the South as an over reach of federal power (Prince pg, 7). However, the use of the military became the only means by which to ensure enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment and the political participation of blacks. For a brief period it seemed that Radical Republicans were achieving their goals with the election of African Americans to Congress and widespread participation f blacks in the election of President Grant.
But within a few years even with the Fifteenth Amendment and Grant’s use of the military to protect African Americans, violence increased throughout the South. Southerner Redeemers resumed their control of state and local governments and passed Jimmy Crowe laws to further degrade the status of African Americans (Prince pgs, 24-27). Thus Radical Republicans achieved some aspects of their goals. Through federal laws and national amendments they set the stage for the future Civil Rights movements one hundred years later.
However they failed to pass policies to ensure economic independence for blacks and gave up enforcing federal adherence to these national laws after the Compromise of 1877 to elect Hayes. President Hayes was not willing to enforce federals law through the military. As a result, African American citizens were left to the mercy of Southern governments. Jim Crowe laws ensured the denial of political, economic, and social equality from African Americans that Radical Republicans had worked to achieve.
Radical Republicans gained nothing from their efforts but a brief period of biracial democracy. Though Radicals did set a constitutional president for the federal government’s use of force to the ensure state adherence to national laws. But this precedent would not be taken up again until after the rulings in Brown vs Board of Education under the direction of President Eisenhower. Consequently, because Radical Republicans only achieved parchment racial equality for civil and political rights, African Americans were denied their basic freedoms as American Citizens for another century.