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12 [Reconstruction Policies] History 2 Though early Reconstruction policies were made with good intentions and poorly applied, I do not believe that they were the best course of action fo r the United States during the 19th century. I think that a more radical stance should have been taken to protect the rights of the freed former slaves. A stron ger bonded Union should have been a demand of President Lincoln, and not such a lenient request. Post-Civil War times in The United States were ones of anguish and confusion. T he Confederacy was ripe from the disappointment of losing and still pursuant of their interests rooted in slave labor. Soon after the Civil War, a plan of Recon struction was brought to light with intent to unify the North and South. With th is plan, policies arose that caused even more opposition. The goal was ultimatel y greater than the options and execution. The United States Reconstruction Era dawned during the presidency o f Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln attempted to implement policies for change in the Sou th after the Civil War, to protect the ideals of the Union and former freed slav es. His policies for Reconstruction were quoted as policies “to restore the Union, so as to make it . . . a Union of hearts and hands as well as of States.” (The Am erican Journey, 444) Here, Lincoln should have created a policy that required un ity of the North and South by giving them an ultimatum. I think he should have c leverly exposed both parts of the nation to the true benefit of their summed pow ers. President Lincoln’s policies were known as the 10% plan, and they required that ten percent of a state’s voters took loyalty oaths and that a state supported the Emancipation Proclamation. Although, Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, before se eing the fruition of his policies, he was able to make an impact on Reconstructi on through granting several rights to the once enslaved African / African Americ an population. The main obstacles of Lincoln’s plans were that the idea of reconci liation of the North and South would be difficult due to remnant disagreements p ost-civil war. “In 1864, a group of them responded with the Wade-Davis Bill, which required a ma jority of a state’s prewar voters to pledge their loyalty to the Union and demande d guarantees of black equality before the law.” (The American Journey, 444) Lincoln did not support the Wade-Davis Bill yet its influence trickled down int o the Johnson Administration which allowed for Black voters and denied previous confederate soldiers from holding office. Lincoln made significant changes for f reed former slaves, their descendants and black civil war refugees when he estab lished a union that would support their necessities named the Freedmen’s Bureau. I think this was Lincoln’s greatest contribution, in conjunction with the Emancipat ion Proclamation, because it enabled blacks to gain a sense of unity. With the work of abolitionists, Lincoln’s Emancipation and the policies of Reconst ruction; enslavement should have been made a platform of embarrassment for those who participated in it by choice. Slave labor should have guaranteed freed form er slaves a stipend for the dedication that was forced into them. The Confederac y’s obsession with slavery and continued practice of racism for decades after prov ed that Lincoln and Johnson were not too convincing. One could argue that after the Emancipation Proclamation, certain rights were implemented for African descendants that enabled them to progress. H owever, the loopholes that blacks had to approach combined with the animosity of racists created a whirlwind of trouble for those seeking purpose. The practice of enslavement and dehumanizing the enslaved prevented growth within the country on unity and rather created an irreversible negative effect. Johnson’s reconstruc tion plans and the radical congressional plans fulfilled a deeper promise of a b etter future for freed former slaves as the century continued. Lincoln’s plans faced the opposition of white southerners who were comfortable with the cycle of slavery that fueled their finances. Johnson enter ed the White House with similar Reconstruction policies. Johnson’s policies requir
ed a state to abolish slavery before readmission, loyalty oaths were necessary f rom government officials and states needed to repeal their secession. During early Reconstruction, congress began to implement the policies of Lincol n and elect African American officials. Unfortunately, this brought on even more expressed open hatred that extended beyond the boundaries of the confederacy. N ow, governmental parties shared their disappointment with involving blacks in go vernment positions. With the comfort of class/race superiority, came overt racis m that was reflected in the social media of the time. Thomas Nast’s 1868 cartoon f or the support of the Republican Party depicted his disgust with an inclusive go vernment influenced by Reconstruction policies. These policies were made to ensure voter participation that would de legate the power that the people played in their state’s decisions and to protect the freed former slaves. The policies may have not been the most proactive but t hey were a positive course of action because of how they eventually combined to have an effect on modern government. Without the reconstruction plans and polici es of the 19th century, it is likely that today’s president would never been elect ed.