US History Reconstruction 1865-1877

US History: Reconstruction (1865-1877)

Andrew Johnson                 Seventeenth President 1865-69

Throughout the summer of 1865 Johnson had proceeded to carry out Lincoln's reconstruction program, with minor modifications. By presidential proclamation he appointed a governor for each of the seceded states and freely restored political rights to large numbers of southern citizens through use of the presidential pardoning power.

In due time conventions were held in each of the former Confederate states to repeal the ordinances of secession, repudiate the war debt, and draft new state constitutions. Eventually the people of each state elected a governor and a state legislature, and when the legislature of a state ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, the new state government was recognized and the state was back in the Union again.

By the end of 1865, this process, with a few exceptions, was completed. But the

states that had seceded were not yet fully restored to their former positions within

the Union because the Congress had not yet seated their U. S. Senators and

Representatives, who were now coming to Washington to take their places in the

federal legislature.

Both Lincoln and Johnson had foreseen that the Congress would have the right to

deny southern legislators seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives,

under the clause of the Constitution that says: 'Each house shall be the judge of the

qualifications of its own members.' This denial came to pass when, under the

leadership of Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, those Congressmen who sought

to punish the south refused to seat its duly elected Senators and Representatives.

Then, within the next few months, the Congress proceeded to work out a plan of

southern reconstruction quite different from the one Lincoln had started and

Johnson had continued.

The Radicals' first step was to refuse to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy. Next they passed measures dealing with the former slaves. Johnson vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto--the first time that Congress had overridden a President on an important bill. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established Negroes as American citizens and forbade discrimination against them.

A few months later Congress submitted to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, which specified that no state should 'deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'

All the former Confederate States except Tennessee refused to ratify the amendment; further, there were two bloody race riots in the South. Speaking in the Middle West, Johnson faced hostile audiences. The Radical Republicans won an overwhelming victory in Congressional elections that fall.

In March 1867, the Radicals effected their own plan of Reconstruction, again placing southern states under military rule. They passed laws placing restrictions upon the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote.

During this first periode of reconstruction the North helped the South with large summs destinated to the construction of railroads and other investment. In adition a large number of well formed people went South because they saw there the possibilities for future development.

The Republican party became a lot of members in the South especially blacks who hand even some higher fonctions, but there were to much intern conflicts and economic dependencies as they could have directed the South for a longer time.

Ulysses S. Grant becomes President in 1869

Ulysses S. Grant                  Eighteenth President 1869-77

'Grant allowed Radical Reconstruction to run its course in the South, bolstering it at times with military force.'

The Radical Reconstruction becomes more and more important. It is directed by very conservative and rasist Democrates that introduced the system of segregation even that the Fifteenth Amendment is in effect.

The Democrats denouncing the Reconstruction planned by the North, terroristic organizations like the Ku Klux Klan or the Knights of the White Camellia were formed. They became so dangerous that Grant had to use in 1871 extreme measures to stop their acts.

The 'Straight-out' Democrats became more and more power. They were less radical than the K.K.K. and there methods were more 'civilized' but they were very racist too. By the elections of 1874 they started a long Democratic dominance over the South that only ended after World War II.

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