Andrew Johnson: Congress and Reconstruction

Andrew Johnson: Congress and Reconstruction

Andrew Johnson: Congress and Reconstruction

Andrew Johnson: Congress and Reconstruction

Excerpt

Almost from the day the Civil War began the problem of how to deal with the insurrectionary states when hostilities ended was discussed by individual northerners, by northern newspapers and periodicals, and by Republican and Democratic members of Congress.

Were those states still members of the Union or had they left it? If they were out of the Union how were they to be readmitted to it? If they were still in the Union what rights did they possess? What was to be the status of southern loyalists, of former Confederates, of emancipated slaves? Should southerners be punished for their rebellious conduct as individuals or collectively? How was such punishment to be administered? Should the President or Congress be primarily responsible for whatever action might be taken?

As time passed two clearly defined schools of thought about how best to answer these questions and many others like them developed; one was headed by President Abraham Lincoln, the other led by two Republicans, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania.

Before the war began Lincoln had firmly believed, as did . . .

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