This Week in Reconstruction, May 15-22, 1866
Tension between Johnson and the Radical Republicans heats up, and neither side of the political spectrum is willing to give in. Johnson makes efforts to execute his promised policies while Radicals search for ways to weaken his power so their bills can be passed. A conference of the Reconstruction Committee believes efforts should be made to eliminate the third section of the amendment which will disfranchise all previous Confederates for four years. A revised clause would replace this section, only depriving former rebel leaders of the right to hold office. Seeing the possible devastation of being excluded from government, eight million potentially disfranchised white Southerners argue that their political, commercial and social relations between the North must be resolved as soon as possible. Damages of war have left the South in financial ruin, and Congress resolves that the national debt which would be imposed on general government should be placed on the Southern states which tried to secede. The South's agricultural labor system has changed due to the removal of slaves, but planters now express relief from burdens of managing unproductive women, children and elders. The Freedmen's Bureau faces opposition in the South where they are seen as an obstacle of Reconstruction. Southerners even charge Freedmen's Bureau officers in Virginia with public wrongdoing. The Union Republican Party of Virginia holds its first meetings and advocates enfranchisement for blacks.