This Week in Reconstruction, May 1-8, 1866
Important decisions to be made are debated and slow to be agreed upon. The South opposes the Reconstruction plan of the Radicals, deciding it ridiculous to believe they could accept the conditions of the new amendment proposed. The plan would outlaw voting and representation in Congress for those loyal to the Confederacy; there was no way the North could inflexibly force these new laws on Southerners, especially Virginians. The white South realizes that it will need to compromise- the Radicals will not enable former Confederates to vote in the upcoming presidential election unless they accept the new constitution. Robert E. Lee reports that the South would be more accepting of defeat with a more moderate and balanced reconstruction plan, especially Johnson's. The President's lenient policy is based on securing political honesty and abandoning the former treatment of blacks in the South. According to Lee, he is not asking for a swarm of black voters, but simply a realistic strategy for reuniting the Union, opening the doors of Congress for the South. This plan by Johnson provokes criticism from Radicals. The Ladies of Richmond focus on honoring and providing funds for injured and fallen Confederate soldiers while newly emancipated blacks struggle to find employment, food, shelter and other means of survival. Out of desperation, they are often left with no choice but to partake in criminal activity. The Freedmen's Bureau, African-American churches, and other black organizations in Virginia fight to get off the ground, uniting blacks and earning respect in the community. Racial tension and violence still continues throughout the South; riots appear to be coming to a close in Memphis where every single black church has been burned.