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Reconstruction: Trying to Rebuild a Broken Nation

Reconstruction was hard – but it was the price to be paid for war between the states.

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The American Civil War is the most deadly war the United States has ever fought. After the war was over, it was time to rebuilt. Since the Union won, it could make the rules. The Confederacy was suffering because it lost, and it had relied on slavery to make money before the war.

Republicans in the federal government felt it was their duty to bring the rebel states back into the Union and rebuild them. This began the time known as Reconstruction.

Lincoln’s Plan

On December 8, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln announced his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. First, his proclamation was to pardon everyone who had been a part of the rebellion, except for the Confederate leaders. It also let states form new governments.

Sadly, Lincoln was killed soon after. His vice president Andrew Johnson took over as president.

Presidential Reconstruction and the Black Codes

Johnson returned all southern land taken by the Union Army. Under Johnson, the South was free to rebuild itself. It just had to do a few things, such as swearing loyalty to the Union and obeying the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery.

The Confederate Democrats again gained power over the South and passed laws known as the black codes. These laws limited the freedoms of black people. The black codes angered many in the North.

Radical Reconstruction

Congress decided to get stricter on the South. It passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867. This divided the South into five military districts, each controlled by a general in the Union Army.

Congress impeached President Johnson in 1868. This was the first impeachment of a president. In the election of 1868, Ulysses S. Grant, became president.

The Compromise of 1877 and the End of Reconstruction

In 1876, Democrats and Republicans made the Compromise of 1877. The Republicans agreed to help the South. First, they had to pull soldiers out of the South. Then Congress had to pass laws to help the South rebuild. Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes had to give Southern Democrats important jobs in the government.

Reconstruction came to an end. Once the soldiers left, Southern Democrats passed laws that limited the freedom of black people until the 1960s.

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