Andrew Johnson's Presidency

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Compare the Reconstruction plans of President Andrew Johnson with those of the Radical Republicans in Congress. Note, this is not referring to the Wade-Davis Bill but the reconstruction plan put into effect by Congress beginning in 1866. Which of these two plans do you think was the best, and why?

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Unlike the Radical Republicans in Congress, President Johnson didn't regard the South as a vanquished foe deserving of punishment. He wanted to reincorporate the Southern states back into the Union as soon as possible. His Reconstruction plans were therefore a good deal more lenient than those of the Radical Republicans.

For one, Johnson offered a pardon to all white Southerners except Confederate leaders and wealthy plantation owners and authorized them to create new governments. The newly-freed slaves were to be denied any role in this process. Most of the land that had been set aside for them to form the basis of their future economic autonomy was to be taken from them under Johnson's plan and given back to its previous (white) owners.

The Radical Republicans' plans were a good deal more harsh towards the South and considerably more beneficial to the newly-freed slaves. They argued for direct intervention of the federal government to ensure that the enforcement of civil rights, which...

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