The opposing views of reconstruction after the Civil War

Essay by hopearusUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Reconstruction began to take place as the Civil War was coming to an end. The promise of peace after the war ended was not going to happen for quite some time. Now there was a new issue to be hashed out; how does the nation begin reconstruction and who is responsible for overseeing it? Now the battle was on between the residing presidents of the time and congress and each had different opinions on reconstruction policies.

Reconstruction began with Lincoln who believed firmly that the matter was an executive responsibility. His goal for reconstruction was the restoration of national unity through lenient political reconciliation. Lincoln's ideas were clear when he delivered his second inaugural speech saying "with malice towards none; with charity for all". In his Proclamation of Amnesty Lincoln promised amnesty to all southerners that renounced secession and agreed to the abolishment of slavery. His offer was not extended Confederates such as high-ranking civilian and military officers.

Pardons restored all property, except for slaves, and gave back full political rights to those who agreed to Lincoln's terms. The plan would call for no mass arrests, no trials for treason, and no executions. Lincoln instead set a plan to allow them to organize a new state government as soon as 10 percent of men who had been qualified voters in 1860 took an oath of allegiance. But Lincoln did not extend a plan for what to do with the freed slaves. There was no program of federal assistance to help the newly freedmen nor were they guaranteed any social or political rights. Lincoln sought restoration for his broken nation, but there was no plan for much needed reforms. When Johnson took over the presidential office after Lincoln's assassination, his reconstruction plans were similar to Lincoln's, but he also added a...