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Shaping Reconstruction: The Impact on American Politics


            The Civil War left America broken and disunited, and the following Reconstruction period between 1865 and 1877, was meant to put America back together socially and economically, and accomplish the unity pursued by the central governing body. Reconstruction was a partial success in restoring the America as a unified nation, but it didn't do as well in many other aspects and measures. Nevertheless, although Reconstruction failed to fix many of the social problems that it was originally intended to, the process of Reconstruction did reshape the power distribution within and between the legislative and executive power, and it influenced the forming of the bipartisan system in American politics today. .
             The Republican and Democratic Parties experienced one of their most dramatic political differences during the Reconstruction period. Andrew Johnson, who took over the presidency after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, implemented his Reconstruction plan in 1865 while Congress was out of session. As a War Democrat and a White Supremacist, Johnson allowed Confederacy to reenter under two terms: to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery, and to repudiate secession and state debts. Johnson also offered amnesty to high-ranking officials in Confederacy who would promise future loyalty. In contrast, the radicals expect that Johnson to set stricter factors for southern states to reentry the Union. Thaddeus Stevens, for example, a key member among radical Republicans in congress during the Civil War and Reconstruction, proposed a much more severe Reconstruction plan which called to balance the wealth between former slaves and former plantation owners in the South. .
             In his speech, which he delivered in Lancaster County in September 6, 1865, Thaddeus Stevens called the Confederacy "unjust and treasonable " and he said "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"(American Horizons Volume II: 161).


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