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The 14 th amendment redefines citizenship the

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The 14thAmendment redefines citizenship - the “custodian of freedom”Radical Republicans in Congress were longtime foes of slavery and advocates of freedom. They were a vocal minority in Congress that demanded civil equality, and felt it essential to fight for the freedom of blacks. Led by their House leader Thaddeus Stevens, who insisted on a “perfect republic,” they demanded that “the whole fabric of southern society must be changed, and never can it be done if this opportunity is lost.” Radical Republicans like Stevens called for the confiscation of southern ruling class land and aimed to distribute it to free slaves, breaking the power of the traditional Southern ruling class. He called for black voting rights, and to count all blacks for representation, not just three-fifths. These were men of principle, who acted on beliefs, not to increase their political standing. After returning from recess, Congress was furious about the Black Codes and of former Confederate leaders being elected back into power. They refused to seat the delegates and proceeded with their own plans for Reconstruction - a plan based on federalaction to protect the rights of former slaves. The Fourteenth Amendment lay at the heart of Congress’s reaction to Johnson’s plan. It defined American citizenship (which use to be based on race) and gave citizenship to “all person born or naturalized in the United States.” It therefore extended citizenship to American-born blacks. Now the Constitution stated that equality before the law, regardless of race, would be a fundamental right of all American citizens. Radicals in Congress demanded that Southern states ratify the Fourteenth Amendment as a condition to regain representation into Congress. Johnson further enraged Republicans by advising states to reject the Amendment. In the 1866 Congressional elections, Republicans gained a significant majority and now controlled two-thirds of Congress. By 1867, Congress was strong enough to enact their own plan over Presidential vetoes. Under Congressional Reconstruction, also known as Radical Reconstruction Act, Congress divided the south into five military districts that would be supervised under a Union General and troops. The General would oversee the creation of new constitutional conventions and establish state governments where blacks could participate and hold office. Former confederate officials were disqualified from office and all states had to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment in order to be readmitted into the union. Johnson tried to stop Congressional Reconstruction by vetoing it, but was overridden in one day. By then, Congress had the overwhelming majority. They even impeached the president, but by a single vote, Johnson was not removed from office by the Senate.
6 Note: See this week’s video clip for impact of Radical Reconstruction and preview of backlash.THE ABANDONMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION “Redeemers” use violence –Objective: White Supremacy

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Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War, Ulysses S Grant, Reconstruction era of the United States

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