Presidential Reconstruction | Facing History & Ourselves

Presidential Reconstruction

Investigate aspects of President Andrew Johnson’s plans for Reconstruction that outlined how to bring former Confederate citizens and states back into the Union.
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At a Glance

reading copy


English — US


  • Civics & Citizenship
  • History
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement
  • Racism

In May 1865, immediately following the assassination of President Lincoln, President Andrew Johnson and his administration created a plan for Reconstruction, which became known as Presidential Reconstruction. Here, several of the provisions of Johnson’s plan are laid out. 

  • Former Confederates who pledged loyalty to the Union received amnesty and pardon; all of their property was restored, except slaves but including any land that had been provided to freedpeople in the closing months of the war.

Loyalty oath:

I, ____________ ____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm), in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God.

  • Some former Confederates, including the highest officials in the Confederacy and those who owned more than $20,000 of property, had to apply to Johnson in person for pardon. (Johnson granted pardons to nearly all who applied.)
  • States could be restored fully into the Union after they wrote new constitutions that accepted the abolition of slavery, repudiated secession, and canceled the Confederate debt.
  • State conventions charged with writing new constitutions were not required to allow African Americans to participate. 1
  • 1Adapted from James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789–1897, vol. 6 (1920), 310–312, excerpted at Britannica (accessed Jan. 24, 2014).

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, "Presidential Reconstruction," last updated March 14, 2016.

This reading contains text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. See footnotes for source information. 

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