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Lincoln’s Ideas in the Reconstruction Era

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    After successfully defeating the Confederate, and the Union took the victory, Lincoln began discussing his reconstruction plan. Lincoln being assassinated put an end to his plan for reconstruction. That leads to the curiosity of what would have happened if Lincoln had survived to serve his second term and he began his journey towards reconstruction.

    One of his game plans were The Ten-Percent Plan, which discussed the ideas about southern states readmitting into the Union when ten percent of its voters swore an oath of faithfulness to the Union. Lincoln first mentioning of his Reconstruction plan was in the speech he gave in Washington, D.C, stating,”By these recent successes the re-inauguration of the national authority -reconstruction-which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention” Voters were able to elect the delegates of their choice to write an improved state constitutions and to create a brand-new state government. Everyone in the South was granted a full pardon except for Confederate army officers also including government officials. Lincoln promised that he would assure southerners private property but not the slaves that they owned. Many of the Republicans in Congress supported Lincolns plan for reconstruction. They needed the war to end as quickly and easily as possible. Lincoln states “ A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free” The Ten-Percent plan was just a political action plan for reconstruction. Lincoln wanted a brief end to the war. He also feared that the war could cause him to lose support from citizens and the north and south would always be reunified if it didn’t end quickly. By 1863, a large number of Democrats pushed for an agreement.

    Lincolns ideas for reconstruction promoted for the states to began self-reconstructing. “I presented a plan of reconstruction (as the phrase goes) which, I promised, if adopted by any state should be acceptable to and sustained by, the executive government of the nation.” To reach to poorer white citizens, he suggests pardoning all confederates, addressing to plantation owners and southern aristocrats, that he promised to protect their private property. Lincoln did not feel the need to discipline the southerners or reorganize their southern society, but other Republicans disagreed. His steps indicate that he wanted reconstruction to be a quick and short process so the states that seceded could create new constitutions as fast as possible so that America could be one again. You could infer why Lincoln wanted a quick reunification but with his assassination in 1865 ended those plans for a quick reconstruction short.

    White southerners in the state of Louisiana met in 1864. They met just before the civil war ended. They created a new constitution in response to the Plan that Lincoln created. They promised public work projects, free public schooling, and improvements to the labor system. Also in response to the Ten-Percent Plan, they ended slavery but refused to give the slaves that were free rights to vote. Congress rejected but Lincoln approved. They refused to support the state delegates who succeeded in the election of 1864 in Louisiana.

    Numerous Republicans felt that Lincoln’s reconstruction plan wasn’t sufficient. They felt that the south needed to be held responsible for their crimes of leaving the United States and causing the war. The Republicans wanted to take control of the reconstruction process by disbanding the planter aristocracy, reconstruct the land, transform societies in the south, proceed to give slaves civil liberties and advance the industry. Republicans were usually classified as a minority party in Congress. Later on, Republicans were able to change the roles in post-war years and managed to obtain control within Congress.

    In 1864, Republicans passed the Wade-Davis Bill to copy the Plan that Lincoln created. The bill inferred that states that succeeded could reenter the Union only when 50 percent of its voters swore on an oath of dedication to the United States. It also accepted security for slaves civil liberties but did not grant them the right to vote. Lincoln feared that asking voters to swore on oath would demolish any of the hope he had of ending the war quickly. In 1864, an election was taken place. Lincoln could not afford to have northern voters see him as an inflexible president. The Wade-Davis Bill was passed and Lincoln was able to Pocket-Veto the bill. Lincoln decided not to pass the bill by not signing it leaving Congress to go into recess.

    Lincoln and Congress disagreed about the most effective way to read southern states to America and about how they were going to remake the south. On Lincolns part, he approved many of his war generals to resettle slaves on lands that were taken away. Lincoln authorized General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Special Feild Order Number 15 separately put lands aside in South Carolina including islands on the coast of Georgia for about 40,000 slaves. Congress made the Freedman’s Bureau in 1865 to spread supplies and food, authorize schools and readjust lands that were taken away to slaves and poor whites, people who enforced loyalty to the Union could rent out 40 acres of land and could purchase them a few years later.

    The Freedman’s Bureau was a lot more effective than the Wade-Davis Bill that Lincoln disagreed with. Many southerners felt that the Bureau was an inconvenience and a problem to their life during the post-civil war depression. Southerners saw the bureau as the northern state’s attempt to reimburse their lands to slaves and refused the Freedman’s Bureau from the beginning. Plantation owners threatened that they were going to market the 40 acres of the land they owned and along with their slaves and a lot of bureaus agents went along with their bribes. Despite these failed attempts, The Freemans Bureau was successful in creating many schools for about 250,000 free blacks in the south.

    Toward the deadline of the Civil War, Lincoln and Congress were on the edge of a political battle with their ideas toward his Reconstruction Plan. On April 14, Lincoln was assassinated leaving his plans for reconstruction to come to an end. People are always curious about if Lincoln were to serve a second term. Would he have given former slaves better civil rights or if he would have supported the Jim Crow Laws that were passed prior to the war?

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