We hold it to be the duty of
the government to inflict condign punishment on the rebel belligerents,
and so weaken their hands that they can never again endanger
the Union; and so reform their municipal institutions as to
make them republican in spirit as well as in name....
We propose to confiscate all the estate of every rebel belligerent
whose estate was worth $l0,000 or whose land exceeded two hundred
acres in quantity....By thus forfeiting the estates of the leading
rebels, the Government would have 394,000,000 of acres....Give
if you please forty acres to each adult male freedman. Suppose
there are one million of them. That would require 40,000,000
The whole fabric of southern society must be changed....How
can republican institutions, free schools, free churches, free
social intercourse exist in a mingled community of nabobs and
serfs; of the owners of twenty thousand acre manors with lordly
palaces, and the occupants of narrow huts inhabited by "low
The property of the rebels shall pay our national debt, and
indemnify freedmen and loyal sufferers.
Representative Thaddeus Stevens
of Pennsylvania, 1865, on the radical program for Reconstruction
Be it enacted, That said rebel
States shall be divided into military districts and made subject
to the military authority of the United States...That it shall
be the duty of each officer...to protect all persons in their
rights of persons and property, to suppress insurrection, disorder,
and violence, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of the
public peace and criminals....
First Reconstruction Act,
1867, the radical program
The power...given to the commanding
officer over all the people of each district is that of an absolute
monarch. His mere will is to take the place of all law....It
reduces the whole population of the ten states--all persons,
of every color, sex, and condition, and every stranger within
their limits--to the most abject and degrading slavery.
President Johnson's veto of
the radical program
Waving the Bloody Flag
Every state that seceded from
the United States was a Democratic State....Every man that shot
Union soldiers was a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery
better than liberty was a Democrat. The man that assassinated
Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat....Every man that raised bloodhounds
to pursue human beings was a Democrat. Every man that clutched
from shrieking, shuddering, crouching mothers, babes from their
breasts, and sold them into slavery, was a Democrat.
Robert G. Ingersoll, 1876
It was the most soul-sickening spectacle that America had ever
been called upon to behold. Every principle of the old American
polity was here reversed. In place of government by the most
intelligent and virtuous part of the people for the benefit
of the governed, here was government by the most ignorant and
vicious part of the population for the benefit, the vulgar,
materialistic, brutal benefit of the governing set.
Historian John W. Burgess,
In South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana, the proportion
of Negroes was so large, their leaders of sufficient power,
and the Federal control so effective that for the years l868-l874
the will of black labor was powerful; and so far as it was intelligently
led, and had definite goals, it took perceptible steps toward
public education, confiscation of large incomes, betterment
of labor conditions, universal suffrage, and in some cases distribution
of land to the peasant.
1. What was
the radical Republican program for reconstructing the Union?
2. What were
the goals of the radical Republican program?
3. Why was
the program unacceptable to President Andrew Johnson?
4. Why do
you think the North failed to follow through with policies that
would have secured the rights and economic status of the freedmen?
5. What were
the major political and social achievements of Reconstruction?