Presidential and Radical Reconstruction (1864-1875)
  1. The Wade Davis Bill
  2. African Freedmen's Inquiry Commission Report (1864)
  3. The Freedmen's Bureau
  4. Lincoln's Assassination
  5. Andrew Johnson's Plan for Reconstruction
  6. Frederick Douglass' Reconstruction
  7. Thirteenth Amendment (proposed 1865; ratified 1865)
  8. Fourteenth Amendment (proposed 1866; ratified 1868)
  9. Fifteenth Amendment (proposed 1869; ratified 1870)
  10. Civil Rights Acts
  11. Black Codes
  12. Reconstruction Acts
  13. Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Wade Davis BillTop
Historical Context
In December of 1863, Abraham Lincoln offered a general amnesty to all but high-ranking Confederates willing to pledge loyalty to the Union and accept the abolition of slavery. When 10 percent of a state's 1860 voters had take this oath, they could organize a new government and apply for restoration to the Union. The Ten Percent Plan was aimed at subverting the southern war effort. In Louisiana, former slave owners attempted to reassert control over the newly freed black population with the aid of occupying forces, but the freedmen fought back. Seeing the violence in Louisiana, the Radical wing of the Republican Party in Congress issued a stricter substitute for Lincoln's Plan. Although this new plan, known as the Wade-Davis Bill, called for stern peace and full rights for freedmen, it received support from even the more moderate Republicans. The Bill was passed on July 2, 1864 in Congress, but was effectively vetoed by Lincoln, who refused to sign the bill before the Congress adjourned.

Attached Documents
The Wade-Davis Bill's conditions for restoring the rebellious states to the Union include: requiring an oath of allegiance by a majority of each state's adult white male population, that the new state governments, when formed, can only be operated by those who never carried arms against the union, and the permanent disenfranchisement of all Confederate civil and military leaders.

Questions to Consider
1.What do you think Lincoln's goal was with his relaxed plan for reintegration?
2. Why do you think the Radical Republicans wanted a more stringent plan for reconstruction?
3. What kind of plan do you think the other members of Congress would have proposed if given the chance?

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The images of the Wade-Davis Bill were found at the following addresses.
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African Freedmen's Inquiry Commission Report (1864)Top
Historical Context
The American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission was established during the Civil War, after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, to determine the condition of free slaves. The Commission was appointed in March of 1863 by U.S. Secretary of War, Edwin McMasters Stanton, to "inquire into the condition of the Colored population emancipated by acts of Congress and the proclamations of the president, and to consider and report what measures are necessary to give practical effect to those acts and proclamations, so as to place the Colored people of the United States in a condition of self-support and self-defense..."

Attached Documents
The 1864 report outlines the type or aid the commission recommends be provided to freemen. A political cartoon also follows, showing the confusion of what to do with all the freed slaves.

Questions to Consider
1. Why do the authors believe a Freedmen’s Bureau is needed?
2. What kind of aid do the authors believe the Freedmen’s Bureau should provide?

     African Freedmens Inquiry Commission Report 1864.rtf  
     Freedmen Political Cartoon.jpg
The Cartoon Image was found at
The Freedmen's BureauTop
Historical Context
As the Civil War ended, resettlement of the freed African slaves became the responsibility of the Freedmen's Bureau, which was charged with distributing confiscated land to "loyal refugees and freedmen" and with regulating labor contracts between freedmen and planters. The Freedmen's Bureau also worked with the large number of northern voluntary associations that sent missionaries and teachers to the south to establish schools for former slaves. However, in February of 1866, President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill because, he said, Congress did not have the authority to create a system for the support of indigent people. In July, Congress renewed the Freedmen's Bureau by overriding the Presidential veto with a two-thirds majority in both houses.

Attached Documents
The Freedmen's Bureau Act, following below, delineates the considerations taken for the freed slaves in the South. An Anti-Freedmen's Bureau Cartoon shows the negative opinions associated with the Bureau, asserting that the agency was designed to pamper the recently freed slaves.

Questions to Consider
1. After reading the Bill, what plans do you see laid out for the former slaves?
2. What do you think could have been added to the bill to garner broader support? What could have been changed or taken away?
3. Aside from their opposition to the abolition of slavery, what problems do you think the members of Southern States had with the Bill? Can you think of anything that would have appeased them?

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The Anti-Freedmen's Bureau cartoon was found at
Lincoln's AssassinationTop
Historical Context
On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head at the Ford's Theater in Washington by an actor named John Wilkes Booth. Booth and his Confederate compatriots originally planned to kidnap the president to facilitate an end to the war. However, the Civil War ended five days before the President attended "Our American Cousin" where he was watching the play with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln Major Henry R. Rathbone, and Rathbone's fiancée, Clara Harris. The bullet entered through Lincoln's left ear and lodged behind his right eye. He was paralyzed and barely breathing, Dr. Charles Leale rushed to his aide while in the theater. Lincoln was carried across Tenth Street, to the Petersen House, a boarding-house opposite the theater, where he died very early the next morning. At roughly the same time Lincoln was attacked, Lewis Paine, a co-conspirator of Booth, attacked Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Henry Seward. The assassin slashed Seward's throat twice, fought his way out of the house and escaped. A surgical collar saved Seward's life, he lived another seven years. Booth was shot during his arrest and his co-conspirators, Paine included, were given the death penalty and hung the following summer.

Attached Documents
An etching of the assassination shows the arrangement of the President's box. A wanted poster for the conspirators appearing below can help you understand the national emotion during this time. A death notice for both President Lincoln and Secretary Seward, despite his highly unlikely survival, appears below, calling for action.

Questions to Consider
1. Why do you think the conspirators selected Lincoln and Seward as their marks? What did they hope to achieve?

The etching of Ford's Theater was found at
The reward poster was found at
The death notice was found at
Andrew Johnson's Plan for ReconstructionTop
Historical Context
The end of the Civil War left a big constitutional question to be answered. Did the Confederate states legally leave the Union upon their secession? If their move was legal, they must be considered conquered territories and their readmission to the union would be difficult. If secession was illegal, they had retained their constitutional status throughout the war, then their reintegration to the Union could be directed by the President. Andrew Johnson, believed the latter, and due to the assassination of President Lincoln, he was in the position to act as he saw appropriate. Johnson, a former slave owner and Jacksonian Democrat, was nominated for the vice-presidency in order to promote political unity at the height of the war. In May of 1865, Johnson launched his own plan for restoration. In this plan, he automatically offered amnesty to all southerners whether or not they participated in the war or took an oath of allegiance to the Union, but excluding high-ranking Confederate officials and wealthy planters; who could only be pardoned by presidential order. Johnson appointed provisional governors for the confederate states and required them to revoke the secession, reject their Confederate debts, and ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. Within months all of the former Confederacy had met the requirements and had functioning, elected governments. At first the Republicans seemed to warm to Johnson's plan, but by the commencement of the next Congressional session, conflict ensued.

Attached Documents
A rendering of Andrew Johnson appears below. Andrew Johnson's Amnesty Proclamation appears below, explaining how a southerner could achieve complete amnesty under Johnson's plan. In lieu of legislation, as there was no bill passed relating to Johnson's actions, a chart comparing the Congressional Plan to Johnson's Plan follows.

Questions to Consider
1. Why do you think Johnson provided such a conciliatory plan for reconstruction?

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     Amnesty Proclamation of Andrew Johnson.rtf  
     Outline of Plans for Reconstruction.rtf  
The image of Andrew Johnson was found at
The chart comparing the Congressional Plan to Johnson's Plan was adapted from
Frederick Douglass' ReconstructionTop
Historical Context
Frederick Douglass, a freed slave who became one of the most influential African Americans in history and eventually became the head of the Freedmen's Bureau, explains reconstruction from the eyes of a black American in this article.

Attached Documents
Originally published in the Atlantic Monthly, Frederick Douglass on Reconstruction describes the miserable conditions of slavery and how the conditions are not much better after abolition before discussing the Reconstruction in general.

Questions to Consider
1. What do you think Douglass' goal was in publishing this article?
2. How does Douglass view the Civil War?
3. How does he view Reconstruction?

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The picture of Frederick Douglass was found at
Thirteenth Amendment (proposed 1865; ratified 1865)Top
Historical Context
By 1864, the pace of legal emancipation had accelerated, in that year Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana all amended their constitutions to free their slaves. Abolitionists feared that the Emancipation Proclamation would be invalidated at the end of the war and that the southern states would react by reestablishing slavery. President Lincoln persuaded the Republican dominate Congress to prohibit slavery, which they did when the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed on January 31, 1865.

Attached Documents
Stating simply that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction" the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery in the United States. An image of the amendment along with signatures of the members of Congress also follows.

Questions to Consider
1. Who will enforce the end of slavery?
2. How do you think the end of slavery effect the economy of the South?

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The image of the Thirteenth Amendment and signatures was found at
Fourteenth Amendment (proposed 1866; ratified 1868)Top
Historical Context
Congressional Radical Republicans moved quickly to establish black civil rights in an amendment to the Constitution. They were worried and upset by the South's increase in federal representation resulting from emancipation. The Fourteenth Amendment became a bundle of civil rights initiatives.

Attached Documents
The soul of the amendment declared that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" were citizens, that no state could alter "the privileges or immunities of citizens" nor could they deprive "any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Designed to encourage the South to enfranchise the freed population, section two reduced a state's representation in the House by the percentage of adult males who were denied the vote.

Questions to Consider
1. To whom does the 14th amendment grant citizenship?
2. Refer to article I, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to determine how the 14th amendment changed the apportionment of Congress.
3. Who does this amendment specifically exclude from serving in Congress or other high offices in the United States government?
4. What responsibility will the Congress and the citizens of the United States have in guaranteeing these rights to African-Americans?

     Fourteenth Amendment.rtf  
Fifteenth Amendment (proposed 1869; ratified 1870)Top
Historical Context
The final piece of Reconstruction legislation issued by the Republicans came in 1869. Forbidding both the Federal and State governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or "previous condition of servitude," the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed easily. The amendment left the use of poll taxes and property or literacy tests to discourage blacks from voting, but northern states valued those qualifications for use against immigrants and indigents.

Attached Documents
In addition to the text of the Fifteenth Amendment an iconic image of a black American voting because of the amendment's passage appears below.

Questions to Consider
1. According to this amendment who has the right to vote in the United States?
2. Who has the responsibility of guaranteeing this right is protected?

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The image of a black American voting was found at
Civil Rights ActsTop
Historical Context
Issuing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 in March, the Republicans were fighting back against the Southern states. The Civil Rights Act called for complete equality for African Americans, which would essentially undermine the southern state's Black Codes. While positive in scope, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was somewhat vague and not nearly as descriptive as the southern state legislation it wished to combat. In the following months the Fourteenth Amendment was also added to the Constitution, promising further the equal rights of African American citizens. The Act also served to limit southern representation in Congress. As was to be expected, the Act and the Fourteenth Amendment received little support from the southern states and were viewed as unrealistic and unfair. In 1870, 1871, and 1875 amendments to the original Civil Rights Act were made to further secure and improve the civil rights of the freed slaves.

Attached Documents
The full text of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as well as excerpts from the amendments follow below, outlining the rights given to all United States citizens and ensuring a mechanism for the enforcement of those legal rights. There is an image below showing the elation at the passage of the Civil Rights bill of the people, black and white, waiting outside the Congressional Hall. There is also a contemporary political cartoon showing the force of good will behind the Act.

Questions to Consider
1. What rights does the Civil Rights Act specifically allow for?
2. What changes can you see in the evolution of American civil rights through the four amendments seen here?

     The Civil Rights Act of 1866.rtf  
     Excerpts from the Civil Rights Act of 1870.rtf  
     Excerpts from the Civil Rights Act of 1871.rtf  
     Excerpts from the Civil Rights Act of 1875.rtf  
The image outside the Congressional Hall was found at
The image of the Civil Rights Bill being passed was found at
Black CodesTop
Historical Context
Dissatisfied with the new freedoms enjoyed by African Americans, several Southern state legislatures passed their own laws which served to limit the rights afforded to African Americans by federal legislation. Coined "Black Codes", these laws were designed to drive freedmen back to the plantations, to restrict their freedom of movement, and to deny them equality before the law. They set curfews, required blacks who lived in town to have white sponsors, and sharply restricted their rights of assembly to keep any political unification from happening. Although the new Southern governments were draw from Whigs and Unionists, they held many of the same racist attitudes as the Confederates, creating these new laws to restore slavery in all but name.

Attached Documents
The Black Codes below are from Mississippi and were clearly meant to undermine the Thirteenth Amendment. Within the Black Code comes the basis for the legality in Mississippi for indentured servants; provided by law is the statute for orphans, or the children of neglectful parents to be cared for by "those suitable". Also included in Mississippi's Black Codes is the declaration that African Americans were not allowed to own firearms as well as the implementation of convict labor for those African Americans believed to be vagrants. An image appears below of officials explaining the Black Codes.

Questions to Consider
1. Are there any sections of the black codes that remove rights specifically allowed by the constitution as it stood in 1865?

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The image of the enforcement of the Black Codes was found at
Reconstruction ActsTop
Historical Context
Even after the resounding victory of the Republicans in the 1866 congressional election, the Southern states remained defiant of the federal government. Every state legislature, with the exception of Tennessee, rejected the Fourteenth Amendment. The Congress needed to do something that would force the Southern states to be restored to the Union and during the session in early 1867 they did just that, with the passage of the Reconstruction Acts. President Johnson initially vetoed the Reconstruction Acts, but Congress was easily able to override that motion. By 1870 all of the former Confederate States had met the requirements of Congress and were readmitted to the Union.

Attached Documents
The Reconstruction Act of 1867, enacted in March by the Republican Congress organized the South as a conquered land, dividing it (with the exception of Tennessee) into five military districts, each under the command of a Union general. The Second Reconstruction Act of 1867, effectively is an amendment allowing for more specific language clearing up points of confusion in the earlier Act. A cartoon showing the conflicting feelings surrounding the Reconstruction is also show below.

Questions to Consider
1. Why did the Congress think that a Reconstruction Act was necessary?
2. What specific points in the Act to you think most upset the former Confederate States?
3. What changes can you see between the first and second Reconstruction Acts?

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The Reconstruction cartoon was found at
Impeachment of Andrew JohnsonTop
Historical Context
President Johnson had not won much favor with the Republican Congress with his relaxed requirements for the Southern states and attempts to veto their initiatives. Congress retaliated with the Tenure of Office Act designed to protect, specifically, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who remained in office from the Lincoln administration and the only member of Johnson's government who favored Radical Reconstruction. Stanton was in a position to hinder Johnson's plans for Reconstruction. Furthermore, Congress required the President to issue all orders to the army through its commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant. As soon as Congress adjourned in August of 1867, Johnson suspended Stanton and appointed Grant to the position. He then replaced four of the generals commanding four of the regions in the Reconstruction South. Grant, however, publicly expressed his opposition to the President's actions and when Congress reconvened in the fall, it overruled Johnson's actions and Stanton was restored to his position. In 1868, Johnson fired Stanton outright and Republican Senators effectively brought 11 articles of impeachment against President Johnson. The case went to trial and after 11 weeks the Senate fell one vote short of the two thirds majority required for conviction. Although acquitted of all charges, Johnson was ineffective in his plans for Reconstruction and finished his term quietly.

Attached Documents
The Tenure of Office Act explains that anyone in a position that requires Congressional approval to hire, must also have Congressional approval to remove. The 11 Articles of Impeachment of Andrew Johnson also follow, outlining each crime perceived by the Radical Republicans. A sketch of the impeachment trial and a ticket to the impeachment trial also follow below.

Questions to Consider
1. Why do you think the Congress developed the Tenure of Office Act? Can you see other practical applications for the bill?
2. After reading the Articles of Impeachment do you believe Andrew Johnson should have been convicted?

     Excerpts from the Tenure of Office Act.rtf  
     Abridged Articles of Impeachment for the trial of Andrew Johnson.rtf  
     Impeachment Trial Sketch.jpg
     Impeachment Trial Ticket.jpg
The sketch of the impeachment trial was found at
The image of the trial ticket was found at
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