How were Andrew Johnson’s actions responsible for Congress embracing Radical Reconstruction?

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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     Johnson's first actions pleased the radical Republicans of the time who felt blacks should be guaranteed the same protections as whites.  In addition, they felt the leaders of the Civil War for the Confederacy should be punished.  In his amnesty proclamation in 1865 Johnson limited property ownership and disenfranchised many of the upper echelons of the Confederate military.  His policies also restored civil governments to the states and had the states, except Mississippi, ratify the 13th Amendment.

     However, after the state governments were established, Johnson took a step back from his role and allowed them to put into place laws restricting blacks, known as black codes.  Federally, Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Bill which would have given blacks the same property rights as whites.  This action combined with the lack of interest in abhorrent black codes in southern states soured the Republicans view of the president and allowed for radical reconstruction to become favored. 

     In 1867, the Congress started their radical reconstruction plan which was designed to oust southern loyalist from office and ensure voting rights for blacks.  The 14th Amendment guaranteed enfranchisement for blacks and barred ex-Confederates from holding office paving the way for southern unionist to seize control of the southern state legislatures.  Johnson continued to oppose these ideas leading to his impeachment in 1868.

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