Three Plans For Reconstruction Essay

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Analysis of the Three Plans for Reconstruction

The American Civil War, lasting from 1861-1865, was the most severe military conflict the country had seen; it involved the United States of America (the Union), and eleven secessionist Southern states (the Confederate States of America). The war was the upshot of decades worth of political, social, and economic conflict between the agricultural South, which produced mainly cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and sugarcane, and the industrial North. The South depended on its four million slaves for its social and economic livelihood, whereas the North despised slavery as immoral and illegal. Even before General Lee’s surrender in 1865, the federal government was confronted with an
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However, the Black Codes imposed by the Southern State governments, as well as the stiff resistance to Reconstruction, infuriated the North. The Black Codes aimed to stifle former slaves’ freedom by hindering their economic options through debt peonage, sharecropping, tenant farming, vagrancy laws, and curfews; in a phrase, “slavery by another name.”

     Congress decided to punish the South for their continuous resistance to Reconstruction by scrapping Johnson’s failing plan, and establishing Congressional Reconstruction. Congressional Reconstruction was by far the most vindictive, and therefore most loathsome to the South. Over the course of ten years, Congress passed the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery), and established the Freedmen’s Bureau in March of 1865 (providing food, medical aid, and education to freed people). It passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (granting citizenship to blacks, and authorizing the federal government to protect their rights), the 14th Amendment ratified in 1868 (solidifying the Civil Rights Act by defining citizenship and guaranteeing equal protection under the law), and the Reconstruction Acts in 1867. The Reconstruction Acts established Radical Reconstruction, namely by dividing the South (excluding Tennessee) into five military districts, headed by northern generals. Once fifty-one percent of the voting population had taken an oath to the constitution, all qualified voters (including blacks) could elect
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