The end of the Civil War led to conflicting visions within the United States government about how to rebuild the nation. Centered on "The Political Struggle," Part Three of Facing History's video series about the Reconstruction, this lesson explains the struggle between President Andrew Johnson and Congressional Republicans over establishing justice and healing after the war. By watching the video and analyzing historical documents, students will understand that negotiating a society’s universe of obligation in times of crisis can be a significant source of conflict and reveal the fragility of democracy. Students will also reflect on deeper issues of healing and justice in the aftermath of both a devastating war and a profound transformation of society.
This lesson is part of Facing History's work on the Reconstruction era, and part of a series of video-based web lessons. Use this lesson to engage students in conversations around the political battles over the direction of Reconstruction between 1865 and 1867. In addition to the suggestions below, see Lesson 5, 6, and 7 in The Reconstruction Era & the Fragility of Democracy for more resources and background information about the struggle between President Johnson and the Republicans in Congress during Reconstruction.