Reconstruction: A Southern Victory

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RECONSTRUCTION: A SOUTHERN VICTORY The surrender of Confederate General Lee to Union General Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865 brought with it not only the end of the Civil War, but also the beginning of the rebuilding and reunion of the nation. President Lincoln faced the daunting task of reuniting the North and the South, both sections still bitter over a war that had killed six hundred thousand of their fellow Americans. When Lincoln was assassinated just five days after Lee's surrender, the South lost its only hope for peaceful and easy reconstruction. Through Lincoln, the South had a shield from the Radical Republicans, who would take control of the nation, overruling even the executive branch, with one goal in mind: to make the South suffer. Although the Radical Republicans hastily made plans to torment the "rebels" in the South, attempting to demolish the idea of the easy and peaceful readmittance of Southern States into the nation, the South emerged as the victor with full states' rights returned to them, increased control over blacks, and increased political potential in both Congress and the Electoral college.

The Reconstruction process returned full rights to the Southern states. President Johnson's Reconstruction Proclamation called for special state conventions in which representatives were required to repeal the ordinances of secession, repudiate Confederate debts and ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing the slaves. These were the only conditions required for readmittance into the Union. This lenient policy again gave the southern states the ability to make their own legislation, as long as they included the required provisions in it. Southern whites were then able to establish a series of laws that severely oppressed the rights of black, in a legal attempt to "re-enslave" them. These Black Codes successfully excluded them from many privileges,