What was the attitude of President Johnson toward the Reconstruction of the South?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like Lincoln, Johnson wanted the former Confederate states brought back into the Union as quick as possible. Johnson did not insist on the Radicals "Ironclad Oath" which prohibited anyone who willingly helped the Confederacy from taking an active role in government.  Johnson realized that this would not only prohibit former Confederate bureaucrats from holding office, but it would also stop former soldiers of the Confederacy from playing an active role in Reconstruction.  Johnson, a resident of East Tennessee before the war and military governor of the state during the conflict, did not like the planter class because he felt as though they dragged the majority of Southerners into the Civil War.  Johnson also believed that the former slaves would be for the planters' interests because of the security provided under the slave system.  Johnson, while desiring free enterprise in the South, wanted to see a system where blacks would continue to work the former plantations for wages.  He saw black suffrage as a hindrance to Reconstruction because it would only cause whites in the South to hinder the Reconstruction process.  Johnson wanted the Reconstruction South to be ably maintained, even if this meant giving government positions to the planter class that he personally despised.  Johnson personally pardoned many former Confederate officials, much to the consternation of the Radicals in his own Cabinet and Congress.   

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