Restoring the Union

Restoring the Union

A timeline shows important events of the era. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln unveils the “ten percent plan”; a portrait of Lincoln is shown. In 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln, Congress establishes the Freedmen’s Bureau, and the Thirteenth Amendment is ratified; an illustration of Booth shooting Lincoln in his theater box, as his wife and two guests look on, is shown. In 1867, Radical Republicans pass the Military Reconstruction Act. In 1868, Congress moves to impeach Andrew Johnson, and the Fourteenth Amendment is ratified; a portrait of Johnson and an image of the impeachment resolution signed by the House of Representatives are shown. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment is ratified. In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes defeats Samuel Tilden in a contested presidential election; a photograph of Hayes’s inauguration is shown. In 1877, the Compromise of 1877 ends Reconstruction.

The end of the Civil War saw the beginning of the Reconstruction era, when former rebel Southern states were integrated back into the Union. President Lincoln moved quickly to achieve the war’s ultimate goal: reunification of the country. He proposed a generous and non-punitive plan to return the former Confederate states speedily to the United States, but some Republicans in Congress protested, considering the president’s plan too lenient to the rebel states that had torn the country apart. The greatest flaw of Lincoln’s plan, according to this view, was that it appeared to forgive traitors instead of guaranteeing civil rights to former slaves. President Lincoln oversaw the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, but he did not live to see its ratification.

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