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    What was the debate between President Johnson and the Republicans over the rightful power of the federal government and the states?

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    President Johnson and the Radical Republicans

    This solution outlines the debate President Johnson had with the Republicans over the rightful power of the federal government and the states. It also explains the extreme steps each side took to exert their power.

    After President Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson became president. Shortly after his election, he laid out plans for reconstructing the South. He made no secret of his disdain for the slaveholders whom he believed encouraged whites in the South to go to war. This made many Republicans very anxious. They feared his plan would punish whites in the South and that it would not be strong enough. They also believed he would do nothing to help blacks.

    Johnson's Restoration Plan

    - Most southerners would be granted amnesty once they swore an oath of loyalty to the Union

    - Confederate officials and wealthy landowners could be pardoned by applying personally to the president

    - New governments were appointed to southern states

    - Southern states would be required to hold elections for state constitutional conventions

    - Only whites who had sworn allegiance and been pardoned could vote

    - Opposed granting freed blacks equal rights or letting them vote

    - States had to denounce secession and abolish slavery

    - States had to ratify the 13th Amendment

    By the end of 1865, all of the former Confederate states had formed new governments. As a result, Johnson declared that "Restoration" was finished. Radical Republicans, however, did not agree. Southern states were denied admittance. Republicans also rejected the notion that "Reconstruction" was anywhere near completion. They, instead, outlined their own plan.

    The Republican's Reconstruction Plan

    - Argued Congress, not the president, should control reconstruction policy

    - Favored a more radical approach

    - Voted to deny seats to representatives from any state reconstructed under Lincoln's plan

    - Passed the Wade-Davis Bill

    - 50% of white males had to swear loyalty to the Union

    - Only white males that swore they had never taken up arms against the Union could vote for delegates at state conventions

    - Former Confederates were denied the right to hold public office

    - State conventions had to adopt a new state constitution that abolished slavery

    The Republicans also extended the life of the Freedmen's Bureau and gave it new authority. In addition to this, they passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866. President Johnson showed his displeasure by vetoing both of the above-mentioned legislations. He argued that the federal government abused its power and called these laws unconstitutional. He pointed out that Congress passed these laws when representatives from every state were not present. In response to the veto, Republicans overrode the vetoes. With the majority vote, the bills became law. Needless to say, there was no longer a desire for compromise. Congress would now be in charge of all Reconstruction efforts.

    The tension between Congress and the President continued to escalate. The Republicans wanted to limit the President's power. Likewise, the President wanted to limit their power. Both took drastic measures to accomplish this. In spite of President Johnson's numerous attempts to usurp power over the Republicans, he was unsuccessful. In the end, it was those Radical Republicans that won.

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