AP American History
"Despite the wartime resistance within his own party, it is clear that Lincoln's death ensured the ultimate failure of post-war Reconstruction efforts to restore the Union."
Even though there was much wartime resistance within his own party, Lincoln's death clearly ensured the ultimate failure of the post-war reconstruction efforts to restore the Union.
When Abraham Lincoln first sought to get the Southern States back into the Union, he held that the states had never been disjoined from such a Union. He would allow the Southern people what they needed to do in order to restore a prosperous economy and social scene, minus slavery. He did not seem to care what the sentiments of the North or South were as a separate entity. He sought to unite the two under a plan which would in the long run allow everyone to return their allegiance not to a respective Latitude, but to a country.
His original plan for reconstruction was as follows:
With the exception of high Confederate officials and a few other special groups, all southerners could reinstate themselves as United States citizens by taking a simple loyalty oath. When a number equal to ten percent of those voting in the 1860 election had taken this oath, they could set up a state government. These governments had to recognize the permanent freedom of blacks and provide black education. This plan, however, did not give blacks the right to vote, this may have been a measure by Lincoln to keep the Southern states happy.
This "ten percent plan" was true political wisdom in practice. He did this because he realized that any government that was based on a small minority of the population would be, "a tangible nucleus with the remainder...may rally around as fast as it can."
When Lincoln was assassinated, his plans for reconstruction were abandoned and the Radicals instituted a much more severe reconstruction, at least from the southern standpoint. Radicals demanded not merely equal rights for freedmen but extra rights. Not just the right to vote was included but also the exclusive protection of the new-found right. This would force the government to get involved with local affairs. They wanted to make the freedmen the social and political equal of the southern white. Out of this radical stance social conflicts would occur between the freedmen and the white southerners.
One of the greatest social problems to grow out of this point in time was the Ku Klux Klan and other extremist white supremacy groups. The groups tried to convince freedmen to stay out of politics. They did this by convincing blacks that if they did hold these offices, they would persecuted and even killed by Klansmen. Another example of this is the Mississippi redshirts of 1874 who organized into military companies and paraded openly. Mississippi redshirts seized militant blacks and whipped them publicly.
The death of Abraham Lincoln led directly to the downfall in the effectiveness of reconstruction in the South. Instead of trying to unite the country under one flag and political neutrality, the new government officials wanted to punish the South. Thus, this led to a greater widening in the political and social boundaries. Revenge replaced reuniting when the country was in most need of equality throughout.