What is a comparison and a contrast between the four Reconstruction plans?

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There were four plans for Reconstruction (1865–1877). Presidents produced two of them and Congress came up with the other two. In the end, Congress got its way and even attempted to impeach the president—an effort that failed by just one vote. The issues of Reconstruction were complex and included granting rights to freed African Americans and implementing a plan that would enable the states of the former Confederacy to rejoin the Union. Moreover, it was not clear which branch of the government—the executive or legislative—should have to authority for Reconstruction.

The two first plans for Reconstruction were put forth in 1863–64. President Abraham Lincoln issued his 10% Plan in late 1863. After ten percent of voters in a state from the 1860 election had sworn allegiance, it could create a Union government. Congress rejected Lincoln's idea and issued the Wade-Davis Bill in response; this required a majority of white males to swear allegiance. (Lincoln had vetoed Wade-Davis before he was assassinated in April 1865.)

Andrew Johnson of Tennessee became the new president, and he was the author of a third plan. Johnson's plan was similar in Lincoln's in many respects. Congress was vehemently against it, and recalcitrant Southerners took advantage of Johnson's leniency by passing the Black Codes.

Radical Republicans responded with the fourth and final plan. Congressional Reconstruction (March 1867) included three measures: the Military Reconstruction Act, the Command of the Army Act, and the Tenure of Office Act. This harsh program put the South under strict military occupation and sought to punish it for the war and its intransigence afterward.

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There were four plans of Reconstruction that were being considered at different times. President Lincoln proposed his plan before the end of the Civil War. He believed the President should be in charge of Reconstruction. His plan, known as the Ten Percent Plan stated that when ten percent of a state’s voters promised to be loyal to our government, they would then be able to form a new state government. They would write a constitution that would ban slavery. President Lincoln would have offered amnesty to all white southerners who promised to be loyal. However, this would not apply to the former leaders of the Confederacy. President Lincoln encouraged the states to give the former slaves the right to vote. He did not require this to occur, however.

Congress also developed a plan of Reconstruction known as the Wade-Davis Bill. Some people in Congress felt President Lincoln’s plan was too easy on the Confederacy. This plan required a majority of white males to agree to be loyal to the Union. Only men who said they didn’t take up weapons against the Union would be allowed to vote for delegates who would write the new constitutions. The new constitutions would have to ban slavery, and former leaders of the Confederacy couldn’t hold political office.

After the assassination of President Lincoln, President Johnson proposed his plan. He offered amnesty and a return of property if people would be loyal to the United States. The...

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leaders of the Confederacy would have to apply directly to President Johnson for amnesty. Only people who were pardoned and who promised to be loyal could vote for delegates who would write the new state constitutions. The southern states would have to reject secession. They would also have to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment in the state constitutions that would be written. There weren’t too many rights given to the former slaves. President Johnson wanted the states to decide what rights to give them.

The Radical Republicans also proposed a plan. They wanted to give voting rights to African-American males while preventing ex-Confederate leaders from voting. They wanted to redistribute land by giving some land from the plantation owners to the former slaves. They also wanted to provide money for African-Americans to build their own schools.

Several parts of the Radical Republican's original plan went into effect. There were many components to the actual plan. For example, the Reconstruction Act of 1867 divided the South into five military districts. The southern states also had to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, which said all people born in the United States were citizens and had the rights of citizens. These rights couldn’t be taken away without due process of law. Former leaders of the Confederacy couldn't hold political office. The Freedmen’s Bureau worked to help the former slaves adjust to being free. Eventually, the Fifteenth Amendment was passed. This said a person couldn’t be denied the right to vote because of race, color, or if they were a slave.

Many plans of Reconstruction were presented. The Radical Republican plan, one that was concerned quite harsh, was the plan that was used to rebuild the South.

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