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What did the United States do to unify the nation after the Civil War?

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There were multiple parties working toward unity after the Civil War, and their understandings of what unity meant differed widely. President Lincoln worked under a somewhat forgiving plan, hoping to restore the former Confederate states to the Union as if they had never seceded, except as it concerned the freedom of slaves. After Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the new President, Andrew Johnson, was even more forgiving. Johnson was a former slave owner from Tennessee who used the power of the presidency to attempt to grant southern states the ability to restrict the rights of former slaves. A group of Republicans, however, fought for the equal representation of former slaves and pushed for the eventual passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. These “Radical Republicans” finally overcame the consistent vetoes of President Johnson and nearly had him impeached in 1868.

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