Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was a great start; even though it meant little to the Confederate government at the time, and to the Southern states still under Confederate control, Southern slaves heard about it, and it gave them hope that a Union victory would eventually free them. Some Confederate states began reconstruction policies before the end of the war--Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas among them--and military governors were installed. Lincoln meant for his Louisiana Plan to serve as a blueprint for further state reconstruction plans. Two early Confiscation Laws, to protects slaves and return Confederate land to the Union, were not supported strongly by Congress. Lincoln outlawed slavery in Washington, D. C., and began the process to eliminate slavery in the Union border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. He signed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, providing aid to freed slaves and white refugees, and signed legislation to ban color discrimination.
Lincoln's plan to colonize freed slaves in Central America and the Caribbean was a bad idea, criticized by Frederick Douglas and other abolitionists. The River Queen conference of February 1865, with Confederate representatives in attendance, was a failure.
There is considerable debate on how well Lincoln, had he lived, would have handled Congress during the Reconstruction process that took place after the Civil War ended. One historical camp argues that Lincoln's flexibility, pragmatism, and superior political skills with Congress would have solved Reconstruction with far less difficulty. The other camp believes the Radicals would have attempted to impeach Lincoln, just as they did to his successor, Andrew Johnson, in 1868.