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Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan

The Civil War has come to an end and the South must rejoin the Union. Many people proposed different plans to help the South rejoin seamlessly. Abraham Lincoln, the radical republicans, and Andrew Johnson each had a plan that they believed would be a success. Let's take a look at plan proposed by President Andrew Johnson.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Summary

Johnson became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Not only did he inherit the position from his former colleague, but he also inherited Lincoln's reconstruction plan. We do not know Lincoln's entire plan; however, it was clear he wanted to allow former Confederate states to rejoin the Union if 10% of the men who voted in the 1860 election pledged loyalty to the Union.

Reconstruction Under Andrew Johnson Abraham Lincoln StudySmarterFig 1: Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Main Points

Johnson's plan was very similar to what we know of Lincoln's. Let's break it down!

  • 10% of the men who voted in the 1860 election had to pledge loyalty to the Union
  • Honor the Thirteenth Amendment
  • Rewrite the state constitutions
  • Pay war debt

Ten Percent of the men who voted in the 1860 election had to pledge loyalty to the Union. The 1860 election was Lincoln's first election. Many critics felt that 10% was far too low of a number and wanted the majority of white men in the Confederate states to pledge loyalty.

Honor the Thirteenth Amendment was the only stipulation regarding African Americans. The Thirteenth Amendment ended the enslavement of people in America. Critiques felt that there needed to be protection for African Americans and that they needed rights.

Keep this in mind!

Johnson's lack of protection and rights for African Americans would be a contributing factor in the rise of Black Codes. We'll discuss Black Codes in a moment!

"Rewrite the state constitutions" was vaguer than Johnson's opponent's plans. They wanted the constitutions rewritten and voted in by the majority of the men in the state, regardless of race. Johnson only wanted the constitutions rewritten. Lastly, they had to pay off their war debts someone had to be accountable for the war. That was to be the South and they had to pay for the damages and lives lost.

The states that did all of this could rejoin the Union. Not only that but they could control their state's reconstruction without the government interfering. This plan favored the former Confederates and gave them a good chance to quickly regain the South. Why did Johnson support the former Confederates?

Andrew Johnson's Background

Reconstruction Under Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson StudySmarterFig 2: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson owned a plantation and enslaved people prior to the Civil War. Though he did not agree with the rebellion, he did agree with their notions about the enslavement of people. Johnson's plan favored the Confederates because he agreed with them.

Lincoln chose Johnson as his vice president because Johnson was the only Southern republican who did not leave the Union during the Civil War. Lincoln hoped that by choosing Johnson the Confederates would return to the Union. We must remember that his goal was to end the war and restore the Union as quickly as possible.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Success

Congress wanted to give Johnson's plan a chance and so they tried it. Southern states began working towards rejoining the Union. If states did everything that they were supposed to, Johnson would pardon Confederates who applied directly to him.

Reconstruction Under Andrew Johnson Pardons StudySmarterFig 3: Johnson Pardoning Former Confederates

Lincoln planned to pardon Confederates who did not hold rank or office. Also, they could not have been cruel to their prisoners. Johnson pardoned a lot of former Confederates including Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens. Davis was the president of the Confederacy and Stephens was his vice president.

Lincoln's pardon would not restore or compensate for slaves or land loss. Johnson's pardons restored land loss. Plantations were given back to their original owners as they were pardoned. Some of this land had been given to African Americans. That did not matter as it was taken and returned to the former slave owners.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Failures

Johnson's plan offered little protection for African Americans and few obstacles for Confederates trying to regain control over the South. Stephens was elected to Congress as the representative of Georgia and many former Confederates regained political positions.

Reconstruction Under Andrew Johnson Alexander Stephens StudySmarterFig 4: Alexander Stephens

Black Codes

Southern states passed a series of laws known as the Black Codes with the goal of reestablishing the plantation system. Yes, African Americans would be free, but they would still have no choice as to how they wanted to live. Black people would be required to sign a year-long contract with former plantation owners. If they did not have a contract, then they were considered unemployed and could be arrested.

If they broke the contract, then they owed their former employer however much money he had paid them. If they could not pay, then the former employer could sell them to another plantation owner who would pay their debt. Sounds very similar to slavery, doesn't it? The difference was that the black person was paid a salary, but the wages were not equivalent for the work done and black people did not have the option to negotiate.

If an African American owned his own farm, worked it, and hired more African Americans to work on it then according to the black codes they were all unemployed. They could be arrested even though they all had jobs.

Andrew Johnson's Opponents

Some of the most outspoken opponents of Johnson's plan were the radical republicans. They wanted to give African Americans citizenship, suffrage, and enfranchising programs like schools and hospitals. Johnson was heavily against all of this. He did not want any form of program that might lead to equality for African Americans. Johnson tried to get African American activists Fredrick Douglas to join the democrats so that Johnson's party would look better. Douglass had this to say:

Whatever Andrew Johnson may be, he certainly is no friend of our race.

-Fredrick Douglass

In 1866 the republicans would win the house majority three to one. This means that Johnson lost a lot of his power, and his reconstruction plan was replaced with the radical reconstruction plan.

Andrew Johnson Impeachment

The radical republicans passed many laws that Johnson disliked and attempted to veto. Since the Republicans had more power, they were able to overturn his vetoes. In 1867, they passed the Tenure of Office Act which prevented Johnson from firing members of his cabinet. Johnson ignored the law and fired his republican Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Impeachment StudySmarterFig 5: Andrew Johnson's Impeachment

This was grounds for impeachment because Johnson broke a law and was heavily interfering with Congress. On February 24, 1868, Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives. On May 16, 1868, the Senate voted on whether or not Johnson should be removed from office. They were one vote away from him being removed. The Senate believed that they did not have the power to remove Johnson and that if they did the system of government was broken.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Facts

Andrew Johnson's reconstruction plan is considered to be a failure. Johnson wanted to allow the Confederates to rejoin the Union with few obstacles. He allowed them to regain power and to continue their abuse of African Americans. His plan was replaced with the Radical Republicans' plan and after his impeachment, he lost the power that he had left.

Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan - Key Takeaways

  • Andrew Johnson's reconstruction plan had few obstacles for Confederates to regain power
  • It did not provide enough protection for African Americans
  • It allowed Confederates to return to political offices
  • It allowed for Black Codes
  • It was replaced with Radical Reconstruction

Frequently Asked Questions about Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan

Andrew Johnson's reconstruction plan called for ten percent of men who voted in the 1860 election to pledge loyalty to the US and for the former Confederate states to honor the 13th Amendment. 

Congress wanted more control over reconstruction, harsher requirements for the South, and protection for the African Americans.

Johnson's reconstruction plan did not work because the South tried to return to the plantation system with Black Codes. 

Johnson's plan allowed the former slave owners to control the government. They tried to create a new plantation system that forced black people to work on their former plantation for a small wage. 

Congress blocked Johnson's plan by pushing the Reconstruction Act of 1867. This act divided the South into five districts that were controlled by the military. 

Final Andrew Johnson Reconstruction Plan Quiz

Question

Which president did Andrew Johnson loosely base his reconstruction plan off of?

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Answer

Abraham Lincoln

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Question

What percentage of men had to swear loyalty to the Union under Johnson's Reconstruction plan?

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Answer

10%

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Question

Which of the following was not a part of Johnson's reconstruction plan?

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Answer

Ten Percent of the men who voted in the 1860 election had to pledge loyalty to the Union


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Question

Andrew Johnson was the only Southern Republican who did not leave the Union during the Civil War.

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Answer

True

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Question

Who did Andrew Johnson pardon after the Civil War?

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Answer

Confederates

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Question

Lincoln's plan for pardoning Confederates included returning their land that was confiscated during the war. 

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Answer

True

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Question

Which Georgian Confederate was elected into Congress?

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Answer

Alexander Stephens

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Question

____ was a series of laws established in Southern states to reestablish the plantation system. 

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Answer

Black Codes

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Question

Who were Andrew Johnson's opponents?

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Answer

The Radical Republicans 

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Question

Which act lead to Andrew Johnson's Impeachment? 

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Answer

Tenure of Office Act

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