Describe the major differences between President Lincoln’s and Congress’s plans for Reconstruction.

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Lincoln's Ten Percent plan was quite lenient in letting the former Confederate states back into the Union. Ten percent of the state's voters in 1860 would have to swear loyalty to the Union and draw up a new state constitution. High-ranking Confederates would not be hung for treason, but they...

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Lincoln's Ten Percent plan was quite lenient in letting the former Confederate states back into the Union. Ten percent of the state's voters in 1860 would have to swear loyalty to the Union and draw up a new state constitution. High-ranking Confederates would not be hung for treason, but they would be ineligible to regain their citizenship.

The Wade-Davis bill was the highlight of Congressional Reconstruction. The Radical arm of the Republican Party had taken over and sought to punish Southerners. While the bill that would end slavery was passed on Lincoln's watch, they made black citizenship and suffrage a condition for a state to be allowed back into the Union. They also demanded that all men swear loyalty to the Union in order for a state to be readmitted.

It is important to note that Lincoln devised his plan while the war was still in progress; Lincoln hoped to break states away from the Confederacy by making it easier for them to rejoin the Union. The Radical Republicans saw a potential new voting base in newly enfranchised African American men, and they hoped to keep moderate Democrats in the South out of power for as long as possible and to avoid the start of a new civil war by keeping former Southern planters from participating in the political process.

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Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction was considerably more lenient than Congress would have liked. Lincoln required a group of people equal to 10% of voters to swear allegiance to the Union, whereas Congress wanted to require 50% of voters to swear that they would never voluntarily support the Confederacy. Lincoln also wanted to pardon nearly all Confederate soldiers willing to swear a similar oath to defend the Union and Constitution, but Congress wanted to prosecute them and prevent Confederate officers from ever voting again. Congress attempted to pass the Wade-Davis bill to enact their vision, but Lincoln vetoed it and enacted his plan instead. This aligns with Lincoln's consistent goal to keep the country together regardless of the ways it affected American people, especially those who are poor and black. These policies are seen as contributing to the power that white supremacy was able to hold in the South and that eventually led to Jim Crow laws.

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The main difference between Lincoln’s plan and Congress’s plan for reconstruction following the Civil War was leniency. Lincoln proposed a rather lenient plan that offered every state readmission once 10 percent of the adult men in the state pledged allegiance to the Union and committed to rebuilding. Additionally, it offered a full pardon to the majority of Confederate soldiers—only the highest ranking military officials would be prosecuted.

Congress was more strict. It passed a law abolishing slavery and officially granting absolute freedom to former slaves, and it required that adult men pledged allegiance to the Union lest they be prosecuted. Additionally, anyone who served in the Confederate army was barred from voting altogether, which increased the strength of the Northern states in the years immediately following the Civil War.

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Lincoln's plan, formulated in the midst of the war, is mainly remembered for what became known as the "Ten Percent Plan," whereby a state could form a civilian government and apply for readmission to the Union after ten percent of its registered voters had sworn allegiance to the federal government. The president also proposed that all but the highest-ranking Confederate leaders should be pardoned, i.e., that they would not be prosecuted for treason, a capital offense, at the end of the war. Republicans in Congress, convinced that Lincoln's plan was too lenient, passed the Wade-Davis Bill, which completely abolished slavery, required a majority of adult men in a state to swear allegiance before that state could be readmitted, and barred those who had willingly served in the Confederate government, including army officers, from voting. These important differences laid the framework for the political struggle between Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor, and Congress. Johnson's approach, like Lincoln's, was remarkably lenient toward southern whites, and almost totally indifferent toward the new population of black freedmen. Republicans in Congress, on the other hand, advocated full rights, including voting rights, and economic assistance for African-Americans. Their views won out in the short term, but in the long term, white southern political leaders were successful in regaining control of the politics and economy of the South.

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