Chapter 16 – Reconstruction 1863-1877

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What did President Lincoln’s reconstruction plan, the 1863 Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, offer Southerners?

Full pardons to ex-rebels who would renounce secession and accept abolition. Lincoln offered remarkably lenient terms for reconstruction. Pardons restored full political rights and all property except for slaves; Lincoln was interested in restoring the Union, not punishing the rebels.

By the terms of President Lincoln’s reconstruction plan, a rebel state would be allowed back into the Union only after

10 percent of the state’s voting population took a loyalty oath. Lincoln’s reconstruction plan allowed a former Confederate state back into the Union when only 10 percent of its voting population had sworn allegiance to the Union. He neither included any requirements regarding the extension of civil rights to blacks nor considered the possibility of providing long-term federal assistance to freedmen.

How did the Wade-Davis bill differ from Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction?

It required that at least half the voters in a former rebel state take a loyalty oath. The Wade-Davis bill threw out Lincoln’s "10 percent plan" in favor of one that required at least half of all voters to take the oath of allegiance before reconstruction could begin. The bill also banned former Confederates from participating in the drafting of new state constitutions and guaranteed the equality of freedmen before the law, but it failed to grant black suffrage.

Why were freedmen in the occupied Confederate states unhappy with the new labor regime imposed by the Union military during the Civil War?

The military did not provide freedmen with their own land. Freed blacks had expected the federal government to give them their own land; in a few places, Union military commanders and the Freedmen’s Bureau had already settled freedmen on land confiscated from Confederates. Ex-slaves also felt they had a moral claim to land because they and their ancestors had worked it for more than two hundred years without compensation. They were bitterly disappointed to discover that they were expected to continue working for planters.

What did Republican legislators believe about President Johnson’s reconstruction program in December 1865?

It sacrificed black rights for political reunification. The demands Johnson made on former rebels were so modest that many Republicans argued they insulted the memory of dead Union soldiers. Johnson did not force southern legislatures to extend any rights to blacks and therefore allowed the Old South’s social system to continue.

Which issue did Johnson support during his time as a congressman and senator from Tennessee?

States’ rights. Johnson was not a loyal Republican: He had been a Democrat for most of his political career and was chosen as Lincoln’s running mate in 1864 to expand the Republican Party’s appeal to Union-supporting Democrats. He had never been in favor of Republican efforts to expand the power of the federal government and had in fact voted against almost every federal appropriation.

What was the goal of the black codes, a series of laws adopted by southern states beginning in 1865?

To keep blacks subordinate to whites. Black codes made a travesty of freedom by subjecting blacks to all kinds of discrimination. Under the codes, several states made it illegal for blacks to own guns and barred blacks from jury duty. Mississippi made insulting gestures and language by blacks a criminal offense.

Why was the 1866 Civil Rights Act extraordinary?

The act dramatically expanded black rights. The Civil Rights Act was a congressional measure designed to nullify the black codes by affirming the rights of blacks to enjoy the same laws and privileges that applied to whites. By requiring the overturning of discriminatory state laws, it represented a remarkable expansion of black rights and federal authority.

How did the Fourteenth Amendment deal with voting rights?

Congress could punish states that excluded voters on the basis of race. The Fourteenth Amendment gave Congress the right to reduce the congressional representation of states that withheld suffrage on the basis of race. In other words, white Southerners could either allow black men to vote or see their representation in Congress reduced.

What was President Johnson’s response to the Fourteenth Amendment?

Johnson advised Southerners to reject the amendment. President Johnson was unhappy about Congress’s attempts to mold reconstruction. He recommended that southern states reject the amendment and rely on him to beat the Republicans in the 1866 congressional elections. The decision of Southerners to follow Johnson’s advice helped fan the fury of even moderate Republicans.

How did the Fifteenth Amendment benefit Republicans?

The Republicans gained the support of African American voters. While some Republicans saw the Fifteenth Amendment as an issue of justice, others interpreted it as a way to maintain power. Democrats were making gains in northern states, and in some of those states, black voters represented the balance of power. By forcing northern states to enfranchise blacks, Republicans decreased their own political vulnerability.

What was the long-term result of the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment?

Republicans could ignore the issue of black equality. After the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, even staunch reformers declared that the issue of equality was settled because blacks had been given all the tools they needed to protect themselves. If blacks continued to suffer from discrimination, Republicans argued, it was their own fault. In reality, however, the Fifteenth Amendment did not keep southern blacks from being disfranchised for reasons other than race per se, and it certainly did not end racism.

What segment of the population made up the majority of southern Republicans in the late 1860’s?

African Americans. Blacks in the South did not have identical political priorities. However, they were united in their desire for education and equal treatment before the law, and after black men were given voting rights in 1867, almost all of them registered as Republicans.

Southern Democrats referred to which group as scalawags?

Southern whites who voted Republican. Approximately one out of four white Southerners voted Republican. The other three condemned the one who did as a traitor to his region and his race and called him a scalawag, a term for runty horses and lowdown, good-for-nothing rascals.

What did approximately one-third of southern black women do within months after the war?

Abandon field labor. Ex-slaves wanted to end planters’ interference in their personal lives so that they could make their own decisions about matters such as whether women and children would labor in the fields. Indeed, within months after the war, perhaps one-third of black women abandoned field labor to work on chores in their own cabins just as poor white women did.

Despite its shortcomings, sharecropping was different from the military system of wage contracts insofar as it

allowed blacks more freedom. Under the sharecropping system, freedmen rented farmland from white landowners in exchange for a share of each year’s crop. This gave blacks greater control over their daily lives, allowing them to decide which family members would work where and for how long. However, it did not release them from dependence on white landowners, who could expel them at the end of a growing season.

What was President Grant known for once he took office?

Loyalty to corrupt advisors. Grant was never sure about his presidential objectives, and his leadership in office was tentative. He never chose his advisors wisely, and his dubious appointments resulted in a string of scandals. Moreover, his unwillingness to reconsider his relationships with these corrupt advisors and appointees meant that his administration was dishonest even though Grant personally was not corrupt.

Why did Democrats endorse the anti-Grant Liberal Party in the 1872 presidential election?

It endorsed a policy of "home rule" for the South. The Liberal Party ran on a platform that endorsed the removal of federal troops from the South and the restoration of "home rule"—that is, control by white Southerners. Democrats were sufficiently impressed by the Liberal Party’s southern policy that they endorsed Horace Greeley, the Liberal candidate, instead of running a presidential contender of their own.

What was the long-term result of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1875?

Segregation persisted across the South. Congressional Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as part of their effort to quash white terrorism in the South. However, federal authorities did little to enforce the law, leaving segregated facilities untouched throughout the South.

How did the Compromise of 1877 resolve the controversy surrounding the 1876 presidential election?

President Hayes promised to withdraw all federal troops from the South. In the 1876 election, neither presidential candidate won a majority in the electoral college, but the electoral votes of three states (South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida) were claimed by both sides, forcing Congress to intervene. Faced with a deadlock, Congress appointed a special commission to decide the matter; the commissioners voted their party affiliation, awarding all of the disputed votes and the election to Hayes. Democrats agreed not to block Hayes’s inauguration in return for the new president not using the army to maintain the few Republican regimes still in power in the South. Those state governments fell shortly thereafter, marking the end of reconstruction.

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