As we have seen Johnson considering himself somewhat of a moder ate took office

As we have seen johnson considering himself somewhat

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As we have seen, Johnson, considering himself somewhat of a moder- ate, took office intending to wrap up the process of Reconstruction quickly. Radicals in Congress, however, continued to devise measures for protecting the interests of the newly freed black population. With no southerners yet in Congress, the Radical Republicans wielded considerable power. Their first move was to expand the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau, cre- ating a stronger organization with greater enforcement powers and a bigger budget. Congress also passed the important Civil Rights Bill, which was de- signed to counteract the South’s new black codes. The Civil Rights Bill granted all citizens mandatory rights, regardless of racial considerations. Johnson vetoed both the second Freedmen’s Bureau bill and the Civil Rights Bill, making it the first law ever passed over presidential veto. Their willing- 8
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ness to override a presidential veto suggests the importance that Radical Re- publicans placed on a meaningful reconstruction effort. It was the first of many vetoes the Radical Republicans would override. The Fourteenth Amendment Congress’s success in circumventing Johnson’s veto began a new phase of Reconstruction known as Radical Reconstruction in which Congress wielded more power than the president. Congress introduced a constitutional amendment in 1866 that would bar Confederate leaders from ever holding public office in the US and give Congress the right to reduce the representa- tion of any state that did not give black people the right to vote. It also de- clared that any person born or naturalized in the US was, by that very act, an American citizen deserving of “equal protection of the law.” This, in essence, granted full citizenship to all black people; states were prohibited from re- stricting the rights and privileges of any citizen. To the frustration of Radicals like Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sum- ner, the amendment, which became the 14th Amendment to the US Consti- tution, did not also protect the voting rights of African Americans. Neverthe- less, Congress passed the amendment and it went to the states for ratifica- tion. TN approved it and, in 1866, was invited by Congress to reenter the Union. Every other state of the former Confederacy rejected the amendment, suggesting that the Radicals’ hopes for restructuring the South would not be realized easily. 9
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The midterm elections of 1866, however, gave the Republicans a two- thirds majority in both houses of Congress, and they began to push their pro- gram of Reconstruction more vigorously. The election was vicious, as Johnson and his supporters went around the country on what was called the “swing around the circle” to castigate and even threaten the execution of several Radical Republicans. Despite Andrew Johnson’s claim that Reconstruction was over, the Radical-led Congress easily passed the Military Reconstruction Act in March 1867. This act divided the former rebel states, with the excep- tion of TN, into five military districts. In each district, a military commander
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