A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Melvin I. Urofsky; Paul Finkelman | Go to book overview

20

The Union Unrestored

Problems of Military Occupation Loyalty Oaths
Congress Takes a Hand Expanding Federal Court
Jurisdiction Lincoln's 10 Percent Plan The Wade–Davis
Bill Enter Andrew Johnson Presidential Reconstruction
The Joint Committee on Reconstruction Southern
Intransigence The Freedmen's Bureau Bills of 1866 The
Civil Rights Act The Fourteenth Amendment The
Congressional Plan Conclusion For Further Reading

RECONSTRUCTION OF THE Union began almost at the point at which it dissolved, for the Lincoln administration was determined, above all else, to preserve the Union. No one, however, expected that the Union would ever be the same as it had been before Fort Sumter. If prosecuting a civil war raised monumental constitutional issues, the rebuilding of a union that theoretically had never been destroyed posed even thornier questions. Who possessed the constitutional authority? How much, if any, power resided in the federal government to reconstruct the states? What was the status of the rebellious states and of the freed slaves? Under the best of circumstances, reconstruction would have been difficult, but the combination of Southern intransigence and political incompetence turned it into a disaster. All these issues came to the forefront when the Union forces made inroads into the South.


Problems of Military Occupation

During the first year of the war, military events seemed to favor the rebellion, although from the beginning of the war, the geographical limits of the Confederacy contracted, while Union forces occupied more and more territory of the secessionist states. For the first time in a half century, armed troops, albeit American soldiers, occupied part of the United States; the defeated Southerners saw them as a conquering army, and did not know what to expect. To military officials, the situation proved no less confusing; nothing in the traditional rules of war governed a civil conflict of this magnitude. In

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