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Transcript of Reconstruction
Postwar Problems in the South
The South had a very difficult time adjusting.
Most of the South was completely destroyed, so picking up their lives was complicated--many had to completely rebuild their homes and farms, and many did not have the money to do this. Confederate money was considered worthless and banks in the south closed.
2/3 of the railroads in the South had been ripped out, making travel very difficult and the big cities were inaccessible.
Despite there being a lot to re-build, jobs were scarce and most soldiers returning from war couldn't find work.
The South also had a cultural problem. There was now a new class of nearly 4 million people--Freedmen (newly emancipated slaves). Now, southerners had to learn to live side-by-side with them.
Lincoln's Plan for Reconstruction
Lincoln wanted the process to be as easy as possible for the South and wanted to help the South rebuild.
He wanted Congress to approve his plan quickly. Though the war didn't end until 1865, Lincoln came up with the plan in 1863.
His plan was called the
Ten Percent Plan
Southern states could rejoin the Union once 10% of its voters swore an oath of loyalty to the US and agreed to uphold the 13th Amendment. Once this happened, they could elect new representatives for Congress.
Amnesty (government pardon/forgiveness) would be given to any Southerner who swore their loyalty to the US. However, amnesty did not apply to Confederate leaders (like Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President).
The one thing Lincoln and Congress agreed upon was the creation of "Freedmen's Bureau," an agency that would help the newly emancipated, or "freedmen."
Lincoln hoped to work with Congress and persuade them to accept his plan. He was hopeful that he'd be able to do it, just as he'd been able to convince them to pass the 13th Amendment.
However, Lincoln never got the chance.
On April 14, 1865, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He died the morning of April 15th.
The country was devastated by his death and many felt they wanted to honor his plan--however, the plan was never presented and a new president--Lincoln's Vice President, Andrew Johnson took over--and he had his own plan for Reconstruction.
Congress Rebels Against Johnson
Republicans in Congress still held a majority after the South rejoined the Union and they were outraged that Confederate leaders were able to hold office.
For example, the VP of the Confederacy became the Senator from Georgia.
Republicans were also outraged because shortly after being readmitted into the Union, Southern states quickly passed laws that prevented African Americans from voting.
As a protest to this, when the Southern Congressmen came to join Congress, the Republicans refused to let them take their seats and formed a committee to deal with the new southern problem. It was called "The Committee on Reconstruction."
Postwar Problems for the North
Though the North won the war and few battles were fought on Northern soil, the
Northern states experienced an economic decline after the Civil War
800,000 soldiers returned from war and needed jobs to support their families.
Because the government no longer needed supplies, factories began laying off workers, as less of their products were needed.
Despite some economic problems, northerners were able to return to their homes, their money was still held value, they were able to get loans from banks and their cities did not need to be repaired.
Major cities in the north quickly adjusted to the
economic changes and new jobs were created.
Rival Proposal for Reconstruction
Many Republicans in Congress felt Lincoln was being too nice to the South. So, they came up with their own plan for Reconstruction. It was called the
Wade-Davis required the majority of southern white men to take an oath of loyalty to the Union before rejoining.
The bill also prohibited anyone who had volunteered to fight for the Confederacy from voting in elections and/or holding office.
The bill was passed by the House and Senate in 1864, but Lincoln refused to sign it, saying it was too harsh.
Click this link to read about the Freedmen's Bureau:
Andrew Johnson was a Southerner (from Tennessee) who sided with the Union during the war. Lincoln chose him as his VP because he was hoping Johnson could help him bring the South back into the Union after the war.
As president, Johnson's plan for Reconstruction was much milder than Congress hoped.
Johnson's plan required southern voters to pledge an oath to the Union and for the Southern states to ratify the 13th Amendment.
Ratification was very much for show. Congress had already approved the amendment for the whole country. The South would not have been able to NOT agree to follow this amendment.But, it made the South feel as though they had some say in the matter--a choice, rather than a mandate.
The South quickly met Johnson's requirements. By late 1865, the South had rejoined the Union.
Many of the elected officials from the South had held office within the Confederate States of America, which enraged Congress.
Johnson was infuriated when Congress refused to seat the Southern Congressmen. And it became obvious that there would be a power struggle between Jonson and the Republicans in Congress.