After the Civil War ended, President Lincoln was faced with the task of rejoining a Union which was thriving less than fifty years earlier. In 1863 to achieve this goal, Lincoln introduced his restoration plan to the country. During this time of Reconstruction many compromises were made in order to bring the south into American society once more, while incorporating the needs of the newly emancipated slaves. Although Lincoln was very helpful in trying to join the north and south, he was assassinated before and his successor, Andrew Johnson disliked by the majority of the nation, could not follow through with its ideals. During this time, ex-slaves were trying to integrate into the new American economy and society. Throughout the course of the twelve year period of Reconstruction, black Americans made significant gains in their struggle for equal rights. Because of the lack of attention and the unfair manner Johnson treated the North, all who opposed him aided black Americans in their goal for economic and social equality of opportunity.

President Lincolns announcement of restoration plans for the country began with what he called his 10% plan. He proposed an exculpation for Confederate citizens, not including high-ranking officials, who agreed to take an oath pledging their loyalty to the Union and accept all the Unions wartime acts and proclamations concerning to slavery. Once 10% of any confederate state took that oath, those specific individuals would be then allowed to organize a new state government. During this time congress was made up of the radical republicans, the moderate republicans, and the democrats. The radical republicans wanted none of the leaders of the Confederacy to come to power in the South, and wanted the establishment of the republican party as the national party. They also demanded that the federal government should ensure civil rights for the ex-slaves. The moderate Republicans agreed with the radicals mostly, but were not confident about full equality for black Americans. The last group, the democrats who wanted the South to be integrated into the new American society with as little restrictions as possible. As a result of these very intense differences across party lines republicans and democrats did not get along well at all. But because of Lincolns 10% plan, Northerners and Southerners alike were able to compromise on a suitable way to unite the country, even though no party was fully satisfied with Lincolns plan. As negotiations progressed, the South was integrated into the North quicker and the political parties were willing to compromise for that time, but on April 4, 1865, President Lincoln was shot in the head at Fords Theater in Washington, by a unstable actor named John Wilkes Booth. Immediately after Lincolns death, his Vice President Andrew Johnson, a democrat, was sworn into office.

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Andrew Johnson introduced Presidential Reconstruction to the nation. He provided pardons and returns of all property except slaves to almost all southerners if they took an oath to of allegiance to the Union. Rich southerners and high-ranking confederates who personally apologized to him were also given amnesty. Eventually all confederates met Johnsons demands and by 1865 all the Southern states had active governments. Johnsons lenient behavior caused him to lose the support of the radical republicans and eventually the moderate republicans began to the side of the radicals. Johnson alienated more members of congress as he vetoed acts passed. One act, for example, the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which started that all men, including blacks, can vote for state constitutional conventions to improve the fourteenth amendment. Since congress would allow southern states to come into the Union only if they ratified the fourteenth amendment, congress had seen enough. At this point, both the moderate and radical republicans took control of congress and announced the Tenure of Office Act. This act prohibited Johnson from firing any cabinet officials. Johnson did not take this new act seriously and challenged congress by firing an radical republican, Stanton. Once congress heard of this, they immediately impeached President Johnson. Chief Justice Chase presided over the trial and he came to the conclusion that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional. Only because of some very important Supreme Court decisions Johnson was not removed from office.

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