Q:

What was the difference between Presidential Reconstruction and Congressional Reconstruction?

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Quick Answer

Presidential Reconstruction, as envisioned by Abraham Lincoln and carried out by Andrew Johnson, was much more soft and forgiving than the vindictive and socially transformative measures of Congressional Reconstruction. Johnson's more lenient approach to post-war policy continually put him at odds with the radical republicans that dominated Congress.

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Full Answer

The University of Notre Dame describes Presidential Reconstruction as having had the intention of quickly restoring national unity and the viability of the South. Important elements of Presidential Reconstruction included the restoration of all property to former confederates who declared allegiance to the United States and the bestowal of greater economic opportunity to the yeomanry. Johnson also vetoed the bill for the renewal of the Freedmen's Bureau, a federal agency that aided distressed former slaves.

Under Johnson's Presidential Reconstruction, freedmen remained disenfranchised, blacks were driven out of the federal army, southern militias formed under ex-Confederate leadership and the highly discriminatory Black Codes were enacted in the South.

In response to the inefficacy of Johnson's policies, Congress enacted its own Reconstruction legislation. Congressional Reconstruction was intended to punish the South and create a social revolution beneficial to blacks. In 1865, Congressional republicans refused to recognize Southern representatives. Both houses of Congress formed a joint committee to determine whether Southern states deserved representation. Congress also overrode President Johnson's vetoes of the Freedman's Bureau and the Civil Rights Act, a law that gave blacks full citizenship rights.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What caused the end of Reconstruction?

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    Several factors led to the end of Reconstruction, including the Depression of 1873 and Supreme Court rulings that severely limited the civil liberties of African-Americans. The final act that marked the end of the period was the Compromise of 1877.

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  • Q:

    Why did Reconstruction come to an end?

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    Reconstruction came to an end as a direct result of too many Southerners opposing the reconstruction. When all efforts for reconstruction were met with a battle, the spirits of the Northerners to reconstruct the South began to wane because they did not want to constantly be met with confrontation while trying to reconstruct the area.

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  • Q:

    What event ended Reconstruction?

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    The Compromise of 1876 and the removal of federal troops from the South by order of President Rutherford B. Hayes on May 1, 1877 ended Reconstruction. Reconstruction was the time between 1865 and 1877 when the federal government set the laws in which the southern states were allowed to be readmitted back into the United States. All former Confederate states were admitted back into the country by 1870.

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  • Q:

    What were Andrew Johnson's plans for Reconstruction?

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    President Andrew Johnson's plans for Reconstruction were the same as President Lincoln's plans: The union would be reunited, and the South should not be punished. Johnson planned to do this by pardoning Southerners who, though they took part in the war, pledged allegiance to the United States. He also readmitted states into the union if 10 percent of the state's white voters pledged allegiance. After they rejoined the union, he allowed them to reform their government without slavery.

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