Radical Reconstruction
external image oldconfederacy.jpgThe Beginning:
After the reconstruction under Johnson’s plan, Congress refused to seat the representatives of the “restored states” and created a new Joint Committee on Reconstruction to create a policy of its own. This began the period of “Radical Reconstruction”.

external image iht3296027.jpg The Black Codes: Throughout the South in 1865 and 1866, state legislatures were enacting sets of laws designed to give whites substantial control over the former slaves. These codes allowed local officials to apprehend unemployed blacks, fine them for vagrancy, and hire them out to private employers to own or lease farms or to take any jobs other than as plantation workers or domestic servants.
Congress passed an act to extend the life of the Freedman’s Bureau and widen its powers so that it could nullify these Black Codes. In April 1866, Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act, which declared blacks to be citizens of the U.S. and gave the federal government power to intervene in state affairs to protect the rights of citizens. Johnson vetoed both bills, but Congress overrode him on both.
Black Codes

The Fourteenth Amendment:
The Fourteenth Amendment stated that everyone born in the U.S., and everyone naturalized, was automatically a citizen and entitled to all the “privileges and immunities” guaranteed by the Constitution.
Congressional Radicals offered to readmit to the Union any state whose legislature ratified the 14th Amendment, but only Tennessee did so. All the other former Confederate states (plus Delaware and Kentucky) refused, leaving the amendment without necessary approval.
The Radicals were becoming more confident and determined. In the 1866 congressional elections, Johnson actively campaigned for Conservative candidates, but he did more harm than good. The voters Kentucky Kentucky an overwhelming majority of Republicans to Congress. In the Senate there were 42 Republicans to 11 Democrats, and in the House there were 143 Republicans to 49 Democrats.
14th Amendment

The Congressional Plan:
Radicals passed 3 Reconstruction bills in early 1867 and overrode Johnson’s vetoes on all three. These bills established a coherent plan for Reconstruction.
Under the congressional plan, Tennessee was promptly readmitted. Congress rejected the Lincoln-Johnson governments of the other ten Confederate states, and combined those states into five military districts. A commander governed each district and had orders to register qualified voters (all adult black males and the white males that did not participate in the rebellion). Once registered, voters would elect conventions to prepare new state constitutions, which had to include provisions for black suffrage. Once voters ratified their constitutions, they could elect state governments. Upon Congress’s approval and once enough states ratified the 14th amendment to make it part of the Constitution, then the former states could be restored to the Union.
By 1868, 7 of 10 former Confederate states (Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, & Florida) had fulfilled the conditions and were readmitted to the Union. By 1869 and 1870 (when Virginia, Texas, & Mississippi were readmitted) Congress had added an additional requirement for readmission: ratification of the 15th Amendment, which forbade states & the federal government to deny suffrage to any citizen on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.
To stop the president from interfering, Congress passed 2 laws: the Tenure of Office Act and the Command of the Army Act. The Tenure of Office Act forbade the president to remove civil officials, including members of his cabinet, without Senate’s consent. The main purpose was to protect the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, who was cooperating with the Radicals. The Command of the Army Act prohibited the president from issuing military orders except through the commanding General of the Army, General Grant, who could not be relieved or assigned elsewhere without the consent of the Senate. Neither of these acts was considered constitutional.
Radicals also took action to keep the Supreme Court from interfering. In 1866, the Court declared military tribunals unconstitutional in places with a functional civil court in the case of Ex parte Milligan. Congressional Radicals proposed several bills that would require two-thirds of the justices to support any decision overruling a law of Congress, would deny the court jurisdiction in Reconstruction, would reduce membership to 3, and would abolish it.
Tenure of Office Act
Command of the Army Act

external image andrewjohnson.jpgImpeachment of the President:89-8229_L.jpg Radicals believed Johnson remained a serious threat to their plans, so in 1867, they began looking for a way to impeach him and remove him from office. When Johnson dismissed the Secretary of War without Congress’s refusal to agree, he violated the Tenure of Office Act; therefore the House agreed to impeach him and sent the trial to Senate. The vote was 35 to 19, one short of the constitutionally 2/3 majority. After that the Radicals abandoned the impeachment effort.