As the Civil War progressed and it became increasingly clear that the Union army would triumph, President Lincoln began developing plans for reconstructing the nation. Two templates for reconstruction battled for the president’s attention: the radical approach, which posited that the seceded states were now conquered territories, and the conservative plan, under which the seceded areas retained their statehood. At the center of this debate was slavery. If the radical point of view prevailed, Congress would be able to abolish slavery in Southern states; however, if the conservative...
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