How were the plans for Reconstruction different after the Civil War? 

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After the Civil War, there were two plans of Reconstruction that were being considered for adoption. President Andrew Johnson had his plan. He wanted to give amnesty to the southern people as well as returning their property if they promised to be loyal to the United States. He wanted to make it harder for former confederate leaders to get amnesty. They would have to apply directly to him for amnesty.  In order to vote for delegates who would attend the state conventions to write the new state constitutions, people had to promise to be loyal to the United States and had to have been pardoned. He wanted new state governments to be established that would reject secession and abolish slavery by approving the thirteenth amendment.

The other plan that was being considered was a plan by a group of Republicans called Radical Republicans. They wanted Reconstruction to be very harsh on the South. Their plan called for giving voting rights to African-American males while taking away voting rights from Confederate leaders. They also wanted to give land to the former slaves by taking it from the large landowners in the South. The Radical Republicans also wanted to fund schools for African-Americans.

As time passed, the Radical Republicans were able to gain control of the process of Reconstruction. The fourteenth amendment was passed guaranteeing citizenship and the rights of citizenship to anybody born in the United States. The South was also divided into five military districts with the passage of the Reconstruction Act of 1867. Additionally, the fifteenth amendment was passed guaranteeing voting rights to former slaves. Eventually new constitutions were written in the southern states that had to include the ratification of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. Clearly, the Radical Republican plan was harsher on the South than President’s Johnson plan would have been.