What Was Lincoln's Response to the Wade-Davis Bill?

Abraham Lincoln employed the power of pocket veto to kill the Wade-Davis Bill. He did not support the bill because he wanted to speed up reconstruction of the South. He saw the bill as too stringent and harsh, and he felt it would hamper reconstruction.

Lincoln proposed that once 10 percent of males in each defeated federal state pledged loyalty to the Union and once states recognized freedom of slaves, each state could establish a new government. Republicans in Congress felt that the plan was too lenient, and drafted the Wade-Davis Bill, which required 50 percent of males to take loyalty oaths in order for a state to achieve readmission to the Union. The bill also sought to give blacks voting rights. One of the bill's authors, Henry Davis, was a bitter enemy of Lincoln and one of Lincoln's most prolific critics.

Despite Lincoln's pocket veto, the Wade-Davis Bill went on to be voted into law after Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. President Andrew Jackson attempted to bolster support for Lincoln's 10 percent plan, but to no avail. The version of the bill that passed was even harsher than the originals, including a provision that prevented former Confederates from running for political office.