Why did many Northerners oppose Lincoln's plan for Reconstruction?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main reason why some people in the North were opposed to President Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction was because they felt that it was too lenient to the South.

President Lincoln wanted very much to treat the South leniently.  He wanted to reunite the country because that had, after all, been his entire purpose for going to war.  Therefore, he proposed a plan by which it would be very easy for the Southern states to return to the Union.  Lincoln’s plan is now referred to as the Ten Percent Plan.  It is called that because Lincoln proposed allowing a state to have a democratic government again as long as ten percent of the citizens in the state were willing to swear loyalty to the United States.  Once that happened, they would not be ruled by the North but would be able to have their own elected government. 

The other part of Lincoln’s plan was a very broad amnesty.  Lincoln wanted to pardon all but the highest Confederate officials.  Most people who had worked for the Confederacy would not be punished and could participate in the government of the states under Lincoln’s plan.

Many people in the North felt that this was too lenient.  They felt that the Southerners should be punished more harshly or should at least be made to meet more stringent criteria before they would be allowed to rule themselves democratically once more.