February 12, 2008
By Katlyn Webber, Hammondsport, NY

Throughout The Reconstruction, there were three major plans. There was Lincoln’s Plan, Johnson’s Plan, and the Congressional Plan. Each was an attempt to help rebuild the south, and the Union.

Southern reconstruction was going to be a hard and long road, but with all three of these plans’ help, it would eventually be a success. To help rebuild the Southern government, Lincoln came up with the Ten Percent Plan. He believed that the sooner the south rejoined the union, and the nation was reunited, the faster the south would be able to rebuild. The plan agreed that a southern state could form a new government after ten percent of its voters swore an oath of loyalty to the United States. The next year, Republicans felt that Lincoln’s plan was to generous toward the south, so they passed the Wade-Davis Bill which required a majority of the white men in a southern state to swear loyalty to the Union. Johnson had a stricter plan, but not as strict as Congress wished, and expected. He demanded that along with a majority of white men in a southern state had to swear an oath of loyalty that each state had to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery throughout the nation, too. Because after the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified the south created black codes, which severely limited the rights of freedmen, congress, overrode Johnson’s veto to the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act would give citizenship to African Americans as well as was hoped to combat the black codes, and secure basic rights of African Americans. The Congressional Republicans worried that the Supreme Court might declare the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional, so they proposed the Fourteenth Amendment, which would grant citizenship to all persons born in the United States. It also guaranteed all citizens “equal protection of the laws”, and that no state could “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

The main goal throughout The Reconstruction Era was to get all of the southern states to rejoin the Union, and every one of these plans was based on this goal. Lincoln’s Ten Percent Plan was based on reuniting the Union especially because this former President was worried about the reuniting of the Union before the war even ended. When the war did end, he believed strongly that the sooner the Union was reunited, the faster the south could rebuild. That is where the Ten Percent Plan played in. When President Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson took over as President. Johnson was expected to follow a strict reconstruction plan, but it turned out that his plan would be much milder than congress expected, but still a stricter plan than Lincoln’s. Congress passed the Reconstruction Act over Johnson’s veto, which required former Confederate states to write new constitutions and to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before rejoining the Union.

The main goal throughout The Reconstruction Era the goal was to reunite the union, but this was also the major reason that the war started. The South believed that they had the right to leave the Union, and they called the war the War for Southern Independence. Southerners wanted their independence from the Union because they wanted to carry out their traditional way of life, including the institution of slavery. On the other hand, Northerners believed they had to fight to save the Union. At the birth of the war, abolishing slavery was not officially a goal of the North. Actually, many Northerners approved of slavery.

Throughout the Reconstruction Era, there were three plans. They all had a similar goal in reuniting the Union, and abolishing slavery throughout the nation. In the end, the Reconstruction was filled with both failure and success. In my opinion, the Reconstruction was more of a success than a failure being that today there are no slaves, the nation is together, and there is no sign of another civil war in the near future.

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