Q:

What was the difference between Presidential Reconstruction and Congressional Reconstruction?

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Quick Answer

Presidential Reconstruction, as envisioned by Abraham Lincoln and carried out by Andrew Johnson, was much more soft and forgiving than the vindictive and socially transformative measures of Congressional Reconstruction. Johnson's more lenient approach to post-war policy continually put him at odds with the radical republicans that dominated Congress.

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Full Answer

The University of Notre Dame describes Presidential Reconstruction as having had the intention of quickly restoring national unity and the viability of the South. Important elements of Presidential Reconstruction included the restoration of all property to former confederates who declared allegiance to the United States and the bestowal of greater economic opportunity to the yeomanry. Johnson also vetoed the bill for the renewal of the Freedmen's Bureau, a federal agency that aided distressed former slaves.

Under Johnson's Presidential Reconstruction, freedmen remained disenfranchised, blacks were driven out of the federal army, southern militias formed under ex-Confederate leadership and the highly discriminatory Black Codes were enacted in the South.

In response to the inefficacy of Johnson's policies, Congress enacted its own Reconstruction legislation. Congressional Reconstruction was intended to punish the South and create a social revolution beneficial to blacks. In 1865, Congressional republicans refused to recognize Southern representatives. Both houses of Congress formed a joint committee to determine whether Southern states deserved representation. Congress also overrode President Johnson's vetoes of the Freedman's Bureau and the Civil Rights Act, a law that gave blacks full citizenship rights.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How did Reconstruction end?

    A:

    Reconstruction formally ended in 1876 with the highly controversial Hayes-Tilden election. To secure the presidency after losing the popular vote, Republicans succumbed to Southern Democratic demands to end federal intervention and to withdraw members of the army from Southern territories.

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  • Q:

    Why did Reconstruction come to an end?

    A:

    Reconstruction came to an end as a direct result of too many Southerners opposing the reconstruction. When all efforts for reconstruction were met with a battle, the spirits of the Northerners to reconstruct the South began to wane because they did not want to constantly be met with confrontation while trying to reconstruct the area.

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  • Q:

    When did Reconstruction end?

    A:

    The Reconstruction of the American South ended with the 1876 election cycle. During these disputed elections, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes became president and most of the South became Democratic.

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  • Q:

    Was the Reconstruction period a success or failure?

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    According to Digital History, historians have viewed Reconstruction as a success. They attribute this to the changing race relations that occurred centuries after in economic, social and political spheres.

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