TYPES OF RECONSTRUCTION ACTS

 

There were two-types of reconstruction acts, Presidential and Congressional.

 

Difference –

 

Presidential Reconstruction Act. As envisioned by Abraham Lincoln, figure 1, and implemented by President Andrew Johnson, figure 2, instituted the Presidential Reconstruction to be more softer and forgiving, allowing for the state of S.C. and other Southern States to establish a government that resembled the anti-bellum government rule prior to the war, in 1865.  President Lincoln longed to send the former slaves back to their Plantation Owners in order to unify the country more quickly, as documented by one notable African–American Historian, to the dismay and disbelief of U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, U.S. Representative Thaddeus Stevens, and Vice President Johnson.

 

       

Figure 1. President Abraham Lincoln –

    Presidential Reconstruction Act Visionary.

 

  After the assassination of President Lincoln, President Johnson’s more lenient approach to post-war policy continually put him at odds with the radical republicans, i.e., progressive republicans comprised both black and white elected officials within the Republican Party, that dominated Congress. President Johnson, having taken his que from his predecessor, therefore, instituted the Presidential Reconstruction Act as stated “much more softer and forgiving”, allowed for the state of S.C. and other Southern States to establish a government that resembled the anti-bellum government rule prior to the war, in 1865.  Having the intention of quickly restoring national unity and viability of the South.

 

      

Figure 2. President Andrew Johnson –

     Presidential Reconstruction Act Enforcer.

 

 

 

 

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Important elements of the Presidential Reconstruction Act included the following:

 

   * Restoration of all property to former confederates who declared allegiance to the United States.

 

    *  Bestowal of greater economic opportunity to the yeomanry.

 

    *  Vetoed the bill for the renewal of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a federal agency that aided and  helped destressed former slaves.

 

  Under Johnson’s Presidential Reconstruction, freedmen, i.e., former slaves, remained disenfranchised and driven out of the federal army, southern militias were formed under ex-Confederate Leadership, and highly discriminatory Black Codes were enacted throughout the South to restrict their movement and freedom.

 

  In summary, Presidential Reconstruction did very little in the form of instituting laws that would preserve freedom, justice, and civil rights, for the former slave without largely re-labelling him a slave once again.

 

Congressional Reconstruction Act. In response to the inefficacy of Johnson’s Policies led by Representative Thaddeus Stevens, figure 3, and Senator Charles Sumner, figure 4, Congress enacted its own Congressional Reconstruction Act.  Congressional Reconstruction was intended to punish the South and create a social revolution beneficial for 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.

 

 

           

Figure 3. Representative Thaddeus Stevens  -

    Architect of U.S. House Congressional Reconstruction Act.

 

 

 

          

Figure 4. Senator Charles Sumner  -

    Architect of U.S. Senate Congressional Reconstruction Act.

 

 

 

 

 

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Congress also overrode President Johnson’s vetoes of the Freedman’s Bureau and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, a law that gave blacks full citizenship rights.

 

Other important elements of the Congressional Reconstruction Act included the following:

  * Passed both the 14th Amendment – guaranteeing equal protection for all citizens, to include former slaves, - under the law.

  *  Passed the 15th Amendment – guaranteeing the right to vote.

  *  Passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 - a law that gave blacks full citizenship rights.

  *  Passed the Tenure of Office Act

  *  Passed the Army Appropriation Act - Congress added a rider to this law which President Andrew Johnson vetoed intended to forestall the president from       hindering its policies on Reconstruction by forbidding him to issue any orders for military forces in the field except through the U.S. Army’s Commander       in Chief.

  In summary, the Congressional Reconstruction did what the Presidential Reconstruction failed to do and that was to institute laws that would preserve freedom, justice, civil rights, and implement institutions of learning; both public and collegiate, for former slaves; if only for a brief period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1973 - 2017, CRC INC. All rights reserved.