Civil War and Reconstruction
Civil War and Reconstruction
Trends and Themes of the Era
  • After Lincoln’s election, sectional differences over slavery and the question of states’ rights versus federal power erupted in the Civil War.
  • After the war, Lincoln favored a mild Reconstruction of the South, though Congress was dominated by Radical Republicans who favored a harsher reconstruction plan in order to punish the South for secession and for slavery. After Lincoln’s assassination, Congress overwhelmed Andrew Johnson, who had taken over as president, and instituted punitive Reconstruction policies.
  • Blacks in the South, freed during the Civil War, gained considerable rights during radical Reconstruction. Through both legal and illegal means, Southerners fought against the granting of these rights. After the failure of radical Reconstruction, Southerners used the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson decision to institutionalize segregation and the discrimination of blacks.
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