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Comparison of Wade-Davis Bill to Proclamation of Amnesty



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    Both the Wade-Davis Bill and the Proclamation of Amnesty came about after the civil war as a means to try to kick start the reconstruction process by dealing with the former Confederate states. Both plans accounted for the wrongdoings of the Southerners and the Confederate leaders and went to punish them accordingly but to also act as forgiving pardons in their own ways. While both the bill and proclamation may have used different levels of intensity or different ways or persuasion, they shared a common goal in trying to merge the South back into the Union.

    The Wade-Davis bill and the Proclamation of Amnesty both had lots of similarities between them that link the two documents together. One of the biggest similarities is the fact that both of them are willing to grant pardons to the people and states of the Confederacy, despite the horrible crimes they had committed. Not only did the documents grant pardons to the people but the Proclamation of Amnesty went as far as to grant a full pardon, “a full pardon is hereby granted to them”. Both documents also made the people swear an oath of loyalty to the Union before they are granted the pardon.

    Both of the documents also withheld their respected pardons from high holding officers of the Confederacy, with the proclamation rejected all persons above kernel in the army and in the bill rejecting only those who had a substantial role in the military of the Confederacy. While both documents tried to use similar means to achieve their goal, they also split in some areas and major differences can be seen. As well as having similarities, the Wade-Davis Bill and the Proclamation of Amnesty also had glaring differences too. One of the most profound differences between the documents was the tone with which they were presented.

    The Proclamation of Amnesty had a very forgiving tone and was willing to compromise to a certain extent with the people of the Confederacy. The Wade-Davis bill, on the other hand, can be seen as a stricter version of the proclamation as the tone of it seems to be more towards an authoritative stance. It is a more direct ultimatum directed towards the South than the proclamation was. A second noticeable difference between the two documents can be seen in the willingness to compromise. In the Proclamation of Amnesty, Lincoln set fourth his plan on reuniting the

    South, and soon put forth the idea that only ten percent of a states voter’s were needed to allow it to reenter the Union. Then in the Wade-Davis bill, that number was raised to a staggering five times the amount previously needed and the willingness to compromise goes drastically down in the Wade-Davis bill as it becomes more of an ultimatum than before. Despite all of these differences and similarities between the two documents, both can be seen as the stepping stone between the civil war and the beginning of reconstruction of the South and admittance back into the Union.

    With many glaring similarities between the two documents it can easily be understood that they both were trying to get the South onboard with reconstruction without being too harsh on them. Both of the documents also had evident differences, despite being written at about the same time with the same goals in mind. Both of the documents were eventually successful in achieving their goals, despite not being to the fullest extent they wanted, but, none the less, both of these documents proved crucial in the early stages of reconstruction.

    Comparison of Wade-Davis Bill to Proclamation of Amnesty. (2018, Jul 21). Retrieved from

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