What most differentiated Presidential Reconstruction from Radical Reconstruction?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were differences between Presidential Reconstruction and Radical Reconstruction.  Presidential Reconstruction was much easier on the South than the Radical Republican plan.  President Johnson wanted to give the southerners amnesty and a return of their property if southerners agreed to be loyal to the Union.  President Johnson did have a stricter requirement for leaders of the Confederacy than he did for average southerners.  The former Confederate leaders would have to apply directly to the President for amnesty.  Johnson also insisted that new state constitutions be written that would reject secession and give approval to the 13th amendment.  Radical Reconstruction was very harsh on the South.  The Radicals wanted to totally remake the South. The military would be involved, and the southern states would have to approve the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.  Additionally, the former leaders of the Confederacy could not vote nor hold office under the Radical Reconstruction plan. Also, the military began registering voters in the south.  This gave African Americans a better chance at voting and holding office. The main difference between these plans is the degree of harshness of the plans.  The Radical Republican plan was much more harsh than President Johnson’s plan.

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