HistoryFINAL1 - Laura Ovsak Honors American Transitions...

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Laura Ovsak Honors American Transitions Final Exam – Fall 2007 January 16 th , 2008 All of the important transitions over the course of American history have impacted our history profoundly and changed the character of American society. Through the events that occurred during transitions such as Reconstruction, the Era of Protest, and the War on the Homefront, the United States has been forced to make historical advances and to evolve as a country. Through each piece of history, new perspectives, arguments, and debates formed. It is important to note that without such events, the United States would not be what it is today. Each decision, no matter how small, has been essential in forming a government and a society that reflects the way that Americans live today. During the transition of Reconstruction, the United States was attempting to resolve issues of the American Civil War, after the Confederacy was defeated and slavery ended. Violent controversy erupted over how to tackle issues such as how secessionist southern states would return to the Union, what the civil status of Confederacy leaders was, and what the constitutional and legal status of Freedmen was. There was much debate over how to handle these issues, with Presidents Lincoln and Johnson disagreeing with the Radical Republicans. The Radical Republicans opposed the moderate programs that Lincoln and Johnson had proposed. Radical Republicans such as Charles Sumner argued that secession destroyed statehood only, but that the Constitution still protected individuals. There was also the issue of loyalty. The Wade-Davis Bill of 1864 included the “Ironclad Oath,” which required citizens to swear that they never supported the Confederacy or were its soldiers. President Lincoln wanted to ignore the past and asked voters to swear loyalty to the Union in the future. The Redical Republicans eventually lost support. Additionally, there was also the issue of suffrage. Were some or all of the ex-Confederates to vote? The Radical Republicans wanted to allow none to vote, while moderates wanted all to vote. While conservatives opposed black voting entirely, Lincoln and Johnson were somewhere in the middle, wanting to allow only some to vote. Lincoln stated, “The better class of them will go to work and sustain
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HistoryFINAL1 - Laura Ovsak Honors American Transitions...

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