What were the strengths and weaknesses of Lincoln's Reconstruction plan?

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One major disadvantage of Lincoln's plan was its leniency. Lincoln wanted to allow the former states of the Confederacy back into the Union with only ten percent of the eligible voters swearing loyalty to the Union. He also did not insist on black suffrage. While Lincoln did insist on a...

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One major disadvantage of Lincoln's plan was its leniency. Lincoln wanted to allow the former states of the Confederacy back into the Union with only ten percent of the eligible voters swearing loyalty to the Union. He also did not insist on black suffrage. While Lincoln did insist on a slavery ban, he was not as progressive on civil rights as many abolitionists hoped. Lincoln's plan was to bring the South back into the Union with as little turmoil as possible; he did not view Reconstruction as a vehicle for social change. Lincoln's plan also did not realize the animosity that many in the North felt toward the Southern leadership, as there were cries from the Radical Republicans that certain Southern leaders should hang for their crimes. Lincoln's plan was not as stringent as the Wade-Davis Bill that eventually passed; this bill called for fifty percent of the eligible voters in a state to swear loyalty to the Union and required black suffrage.

The major disadvantage also turned out to be the key advantage to Lincoln's plan. Lincoln's plan helped end the war quickly, as it appeared as though the North would not seek revenge against the South and the North would look to welcome the South back with open arms. This led to many Southerners abandoning Jefferson Davis's idea that the South partake in a guerrilla war. Lincoln's plan would have ended expenses for the war; this war was one of the most expensive one in terms of blood and treasure in American history. While it can be debated that Lincoln's plan would have been difficult to pass in his own party due to the Radicals, the plan would have led to less animosity between the two warring factions.

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President Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction, called the Ten Percent Plan, had both strengths and weaknesses. One weakness of the plan was that President Lincoln only encouraged the southern states to give the former slaves the right to vote. His plan didn’t require voting rights for the former slaves. Some people also believed that his plan was too easy on the southern states. These people believed that more than ten percent of the people in a southern state should have to pledge loyalty to the United States before a new state constitution would be written. When Congress developed the Wade-Davis Bill, it required fifty percent of the people to pledge loyalty to the United States in order for a new state constitution to be written.

One of the strengths of the plan was that it was easy on the South to help with the healing and reunification processes. President Lincoln knew that the healing process would be difficult. He felt that by having a Reconstruction plan that wasn’t too harsh on the South would help with this. One way to accomplish this was to offer amnesty or forgiveness to most southerners who agreed to be loyal to the United States. Another way to accomplish this was to require a small percentage of people, only ten percent, to agree to be loyal to the United States in order to get the process of writing new state constitutions started. Another strength of Lincoln’s plan was that it required the southern states to ban slavery in the new state constitutions that were going to be written. This was important since the issue of slavery was a key cause of the Civil War. Lincoln’s plan also didn’t give amnesty to the former leaders of the Confederacy.

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The main strengths and weaknesses of this plan came from the same place.  They were both related to the fact that Lincoln wanted to be lenient to the South.

Lincoln's plan was going to make it easy for Southern states to be returned to the Union.  It said that any state could form a government as soon as 10% of the people who had been eligible to vote in 1860 signed an oath of loyalty to the US.

This was a great strength because it would have encouraged the South to reconcile with the North.  It was a magnanimous gesture showing that Lincoln was a great man who did not hold grudges.  But, at the same time, it could be perceived as a weakness.  We do not know how things would have turned out had Lincoln lived.  But Johnson's plan was similar to Lincoln's and the Southern states responded by doing things like instituting the Black Codes.  This showed that they were willing to take advantage of the lenient terms of the plan to try to return to the way things had been before the war.

Thus, Lincoln's plan was great because it was forgiving and lenient.  But these were also its major weaknesses.

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