Is the Wade Davis Bill negative or positive? Why?

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Whether the Wade-Davis Bill was a positive or negative is, of course, a matter of opinion. In any case, President Lincoln killed the bill by pocket veto. One thing that can be said for certain is that the bill's provisions were good for African-American men in the South, as they would have been allowed to vote. This step, viewed as remarkably radical in 1864, would not be fully undertaken until the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment over five years later. It would also have been a positive for the Republican Party, which would have benefited from the vote of newly-enfranchised freedmen. The group that would have certainly viewed it as a negative would have been Southern whites, fifty percent of whom in each state were required to take a loyalty oath to the Union before readmission of their state was possible. Lincoln ultimately refused to sign the bill because he favored a more conciliatory approach toward the readmitting the Southern states. The general spirit of the bill however, especially voting rights for freedmen, underlay the Reconstruction program of the so-called "radical" Republicans, who came to power in Congress at the end of the war. All in all, it would be my argument that the Wade-Davis Bill, because it placed African-American suffrage on the national political agenda, was a positive.

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