The Ordeal of Reconstruction Essay example

Submitted By Jleadmon
Words: 1860
Pages: 8

The Ordeal of Reconstruction
1865-1877

The Problems of Peace
All rebel (Confederate) leaders were pardoned by President Johnson in 1868. Freedmen Define Freedom
Emancipation took effect unevenly in different parts of the conquered Confederacy. Some slaves resisted the liberating Union armies due to their loyalty to their masters.
The church became the focus of black community life in the years following emancipation. Blacks formed their own churches pastured by their own ministers. Education also arose for the blacks due to the emancipation proclamation. Blacks now had the opportunity to learn to read and write. The Freedmen's Bureau
Because many freedmen (those who were freed from slavery) were unskilled, unlettered, without property or money, and with little knowledge of how to survive as free people, Congress created the Freedmen's Bureau on March 3, 1865. It was intended to provide clothing, medical care, food, and education to both freedmen and white refugees. Union general Oliver O. Howard led the bureau. The bureau's greatest success was teaching blacks to read. Because it was despised by the President and by Southerners, the Freedmen's Bureau expired in 1872. Johnson: The Tailor President
Andrew Johnson was elected to Congress and refused to secede with his own state of Tennessee.
Johnson was made Vice Democrat to Lincoln's Union Party in 1864 in order to gain support from the War Democrats and other pro-Southern elements. Johnson was a strong supporter of state's rights and of the Constitution. He was a Southerner who did not understand the North and a Democrat who had not been accepted by the Republicans. Presidential Reconstruction
In 1863, Lincoln stated his "10 percent" Reconstruction plan which stated that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of its voters in the presidential election of 1860 had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States and pledged to abide by emancipation. Then a formal state government would be constructed within the state, and the state would be re-admitted into the Union.
Due to Republican fears over the restoration of planter aristocracy and the possible re-enslavement of blacks, Congress passed the Wade-Davis Bill in 1864. It required that 50% of a state's voters take the oath of allegiance and it demanded stronger safeguards for emancipation. President Lincoln refused to sign the bill.
The disagreement between the President and Congress revealed differences in Republicans and two factions arose: a majority that agreed with Lincoln and believed that the seceded states should be restored to the Union as quickly as possible, and a radical minority that felt the South should suffer greatly before its re-admittance - this minority wanted the South's social structure to be uprooted, the planters to be punished, and the newly-emancipated blacks protected by federal power.
President Johnson issued his own Reconstruction plan on May 29, 1865. It called for special state conventions which were required to: repeal the decrees of secession, repudiate all Confederate debts, and ratify the slave-freeing 13th Amendment. The Baleful Black Codes
The Black Codes was a series of laws designed to regulate the affairs of the emancipated slaves. Mississippi passed the first such law in November 1865.
The Black Codes aimed to ensure a stable and subservient labor force.
Blacks were forced to continue to work the plantations after their emancipation due to the system of "sharecropping." Plantation owners would rent out pieces of their land to blacks and make the cost of rent higher than the return the land produced. The renters of the land were bound by contract to continue to work the land until debts were repaid to the plantation owner. Unable to repay the debts, blacks began to "jump" their contracts.
The codes imposed harsh penalties on blacks who "jumped" their labor contracts, some of which usually forced the blacks…