The American Civil War began in 1861 and was a war between the North and South. The premise of the war was the abolishment of slavery – the North was for abolishment of slavery and the South was not. According to Keene (2013), “The Civil War brought profound social, political, and economic change to the United States” (p. 374). Both the South and North felt that they would win the war. The North, having twice the population as the South, also “possessed a vast industrial system” (Keene, 2013, p. 376). The South feeling that they have a geographic advantage and, fighting for their independence put a fire in their bellies. The South also believed that if they fought a defensive war, the North would withdraw, or Britain would come to their aid because Britain “heavily depended on Southern cotton” (Keene, 2013, p. 377). In the end, the Union was victorious, there was a dissolution of the Confederate states, slavery was abolished and the Restructuring Era began. This also led to the passage and ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15thAmendments to the Constitution (United States Senate).

Lincoln’s belief was that “the goal of the war was to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery” (Keene, 2013, p. 384). As the War was proceeding, Lincoln began to pen the Reconstruction policy. As he stated in his second inaugural address, “’with malice toward none’ and ‘charity for all’ to ‘achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves…’”, Lincoln believed that with leniency extended to the South, the Confederates would surrender and the healing would begin (Keene, 2013, p. 408).

Andrew Johnson’s views were more complicated. Johnson was a previous slave owner, but was “very suspicious of the planter aristocracy” (Keene, 2013, p. 412). He also spoke about assisting former slaves with their transition as a “Freedmen.” Johnson outlined terms that would allow Confederate states to join the Union. Johnson announced in December of 1865 that “the Union was restored and Reconstruction was over” (Keene, 2013, p. 413).

With Republicans in control of the Congress, they passed four Reconstruction Acts. President Johnson vetoed the Reconstruction Acts but Congress passed over his veto. The Republicans, tired of Johnson not playing nice in the sandbox, attempted to remove him from office (Keene, 2013, p. 417).

References:

Keene, J., Cornell, S & O’Donnell, E. (2013). Visions of America: a history of the united states (2nd ed.). Boston, MA : Pearson.

United States Senate. “The Senate’s Civil War Story.” Retrieved from https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/CivilWarAmendments.htm (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

 

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