Radical Reconstruction Essay

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Radical Reconstruction

Following the Civil War came a period of regrowth and rebuilding known as Reconstruction. Reconstruction can be broken into different sections and types, one of which is Congressional, or Radical, Reconstruction. There are many scholarly debates about Congressional Reconstruction and its failures, successes, and its overall logistics. Another common debate concerning the Reconstruction period is its purpose and what the intentions of its instigators were. This paper will be discussing an article written by Frederick Douglass entitled Reconstruction. In this article Douglass discusses the Congressional session taking place in 1866. He calls upon the Congressmen to undo the "blunders" of the previous
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At this point in history the nation must face a massive reworking of government and redefining of society. It was "to this grand work of national regeneration and entire purification Congress must… address Itself, with full purpose". During this period President Johnson continued his pardons and the 10% plan continued to readmit states to the union. Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia were a few of the 10% states readmitted. In opposition to Johnson's readmission policies and his Reconstruction plan, Radicals began to refuse to allow Democrats to sit in Congress. Congress also passes the Tenure of Office Act inhibiting the power of the President.
Congress had to overcome the obstacles previously faced in order to see its goals fulfilled. The previous session left some large holes in the policies established. President Johnson had previously inhibited the acts of Congress and the Congressmen were reluctant to make such bold moves against him. One of the ultimate goals of Radical Reconstruction was to achieve equality for all citizens, and to give a just definition of citizen as well. A first step toward this was the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment became law in June of 1866. This new law declared any person born in the Unites States a citizen, with rights undeniable by any state. It is this type of action Douglass desired in Congress and discusses in his article as only the beginning to the
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