Compare in detail the three Reconstruction Plans: Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan, Johnson's Reconstruction Plan, and the Congressional Reconstruction Plan.

Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan, Johnson's Reconstruction Plan, and the Congressional Reconstruction Plan contained some similarities, such as that they all addressed in some manner the topic of drafting new state constitutions.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

After the Civil War, there were many different plans for the reconstruction of the South.

Lincoln had a detailed plan that he wanted to enact, but he was assassinated before he was able to do so. His plan was known as the Ten-Percent Plan, because it was focused on putting...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

After the Civil War, there were many different plans for the reconstruction of the South.

Lincoln had a detailed plan that he wanted to enact, but he was assassinated before he was able to do so. His plan was known as the Ten-Percent Plan, because it was focused on putting parts of the country back together in unity as peacefully and seamlessly as possible, requiring only ten percent of the residents in former Confederate states to sign an oath to the new government in order to rejoin the Union. He also wanted to be lenient towards those who had fought for the Confederacy and those who had supported them (with the exception of the highest ranking officials), by granting everyone amnesty. He worried that if full pardons were not offered, southerners would not support new governments and would be against rejoining the Union at all. He was focused on how to create a “peaceful” Union as quickly as possible and not necessarily worried about how to create a more equitable America.

After Lincoln was assassinated, his Southern Democratic vice president, Andrew Johnson, became the leader of the Union. Unlike Lincoln, Johnson wanted to grant full pardons to all high-ranking Confederate officials. He wanted new state governments to officially ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, but, much like Lincoln’s plan, Johnson was not very interested in creating more equitable institutions for newly freed slaves. He was more focused on reestablishing the Union as quickly as possible. Under his plan, segregationist policies eventually took over the south, such as the Jim Crow laws and Black Codes. These systems allowed white supremacy to dominate, oppressing African Americans for the next century.

Meanwhile, Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to enact a plan that would give blacks the same political rights and economic opportunities that whites enjoyed. Radical Reconstruction, also known as Congressional Reconstruction, was the push by a Radical Republican block in the congress to create their own plan for the South. Radical Republicans wanted to punish those who had supported the Confederacy, especially high ranking officials, in distinct contrast to Johnson’s sweeping pardons. The Radical Republican Congress passed the Wade-Davis Bill in 1964, requiring that 50% of residents in former Confederate states would have to swear allegiance and loyalty to the Union before the state was admitted back into the Union.

Johnson vehemently opposed the plan and vetoed it, including integral parts such as the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill and the Civil Rights Bill. The Freedman’s Bureau was designed to help newly freed slaves by giving them temporary shelter, food, jobs, farm land, education, and other necessities for economic and political growth. Johnson believed the bureau was giving blacks “too much assistance” and relied too heavily on “military in peacetime” to be efficient in the long-run.

In 1877, Republicans and Democrats in the Congress made a congressional bargain to elect Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes as president. In order to allow him to be the president, Republicans agreed to withdraw U.S. Army troops from South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida, effectively making it impossible to enforce the critical Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

Overall, Reconstruction was a failure as can be seen by the South’s long legacy of Black Codes and Jim Crow Laws.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction was centered on healing the nation. He wanted to be lenient to the South in order to encourage southerners to lay down their arms and accept defeat. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln set the tone for his approach by calling for reuniting the country "with malice toward none, with charity for all." His plan was based on the Ten-Percent Plan. Former Confederate states would be readmitted when ten percent of eligible voters publicly swore loyalty to the Union. Once this was done, the former rebellious states would be allowed to elect their own state legislatures and draft new state constitutions as long as they ratified the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. Lincoln offered pardons to all but the top-ranking Confederates.

When Andrew Johnson became president he changed the approach to Reconstruction somewhat. He kept in place Lincoln's Ten-Percent Plan. However, as a southerner himself, he was even more lenient. Johnson restored all southern property (except for slaves).

Congressional Reconstruction deviated from the plans of these two presidents. Radical Republicans in Congress did not want to simply reunite the country. They wanted to completely remake the South and punish former Confederates for their rebellion. They were able to do this because they had enough Congressional members to override Johnson's vetoes. Congressional Reconstruction expanded the power of the Freedman's Bureau. It sought to protect and educate former slaves and empower them with political inclusion. Southern states were required to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments in addition to the Thirteenth. Southern states that refused to comply faced the prospect of continued occupation by federal soldiers.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There were three plans of Reconstruction. President Lincoln had a plan, President Johnson had a plan, and there was the Radical Republican plan.

President Lincoln’s plan called for several things to occur. His plan called for ten percent of the voters to take an oath of loyalty to the United States. New state governments could form. These governments had to ban slavery when they wrote the new state constitutions. His plan would offer amnesty to all white southerners, except Confederate leaders, if these people pledged loyalty to the United States.

President Johnson’s plan was different from President Lincoln’s plan. His plan called for granting amnesty and returning people's property if they pledged to be loyal to the United States. Confederate leaders had to apply directly to President Johnson in order to request amnesty. Only people who promised to be loyal and who were pardoned could vote for delegates to the conventions in each state that would write the new state constitutions. The state constitutions had to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery.

The Radical Republicans in Congress had a plan for Reconstruction. Their plan had several parts to it. One part involved passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which gave full citizenship to African Americans with the federal government protecting these rights. The Freedmen’s Bureau, which provided aid to the former slaves, was given additional power. Special courts were created to prosecute people who violated the rights of African Americans. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, which stated that people born in the United States were citizens and had the rights of citizens. These rights couldn’t be taken away without the due process of law. The Fifteenth Amendment stated that voting rights couldn’t be taken away because of a person’s race or a person having been a slave. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided the South into five military districts. The military was in charge of registering new voters and ensuring that new state constitutions were written.

Of the three plans, it was the Radical Republican plan that went into effect. It lasted until the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team