Nick, Caroline, and JT

The reconstruction of the South is a very deep and complex matter, one which has not one answer, but must be carried out with one definitive set of goals; else the path will yield disappointing and convoluted results. Our goal for reconstruction is to slowly integrate the South back into the country through military occupation and temporary restricted representation. Bills passed in Congress would restore a sense of the American System in the South, while simultaneously preserving the rights of freed African Americans. Hostility may be rather elevated during this period of time; however it is vital to note that the North won the war and will not allow the South to return to their obsolete and oppressive lifestyles.

Ex-Confederates must be treated, once again, as equal American citizens, but the North cannot be too light regarding their reprimands, due to the horrific nature of the war, and the attitude of some Southerners that has been referred to as “The Lost Cause.” Due to the assassination of President Lincoln, it is impossible to control the influence of the Radical Republicans. Accommodations must be made to both ends of the spectrum. Ex-Confederates will be considered American citizens and regain all rights therein, after swearing an oath of loyalty to the Union. These oaths will also include compliance with the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments, the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Civil Rights Act, etc.
Nick is not indifferent in this pose!
Such oaths will be taken at local voting areas, post offices, etc, and physical proof of a taken oath will be available and signed by Northern federal government officials (presumably en masse), and must be presented during all voting occasions. If an ex-Confederate refuses to take this oath, his grandchildren (second generation after his) will be eligible as American citizens, assuming they meet all other criteria. Any persons who have served in the Confederate Army must, in addition to swearing an oath of loyalty like all Southern citizens, must publicly swear to disassociate themselves from the Confederate cause. Additionally, former Southern soldiers who wish to join the Union Army must pay a small tax, which will pay for the reconstruction of military bases and supplies.

Any Southerners who served a seat of power in the Confederate federal government, as well as the top 150 ranking officers in the Confederate army, will be put on trial for treason which will determine their future rights and involvement in the American government. Each officer will be individually tried by a jury consisting of both Northerners and Southerners who have sworn loyalty to the Union and have been interviewed to eliminate biased jurors. If an officer is convicted of treason against the Union, he will not be able to serve in the US army or in positions of local or federal government whatsoever. The officer will also be sentenced to serve a prison sentence determined by the judge, and is only exempt from this action if he is pardoned by the President. If an officer is not convicted, he will be eligible for further service in the army or political office if he writes a public statement of apology, which is to be submitted to the Supreme Court for verification and approval. If the Supreme Court does not accept the apology, the officer will not be allowed access to such public service positions.

The recently emancipated slaves of America, known as “freedmen,” will be swiftly, and as painlessly as possible, integrated into society as equal citizens. Black men will not be denied any rights, including suffrage, due to their race, previous condition of servitude, etc. Because of the increased representation that Southern states will received due to African Americans being counted as full citizens (a major reason why blacks cannot be denied suffrage), those who represent the South in Congress will be forced to pass some degree of pro-black legislation, regarding the distribution of land to former slaves and the involvement of blacks in both local and federal governments. The Freedmen’s Bureau will be established as planned, but its activities will be closely monitored, and educated African American’s will play an active role in it. Each black family of US citizens may be eligible to receive land grants of 5 acres from the open plains of the western states, if they choose to do so. Additionally, due to the future construction of a Southern trans-continental railroad, many new jobs will be available to former slaves to assist in the construction.

To further promote the ideals of democracy and continue the tradition set forth by our founding fathers, every male, both white and black, North and South will receive the vote. Some may argue that ex-Confederate soldiers should not be given the ballot due to treasonous actions. However, while these soldiers fought against their own nation, each of them still deserves the right to a voice in the United States government in order to properly integrate the Southern states back into the Union; their representation is vital to upholding democratic ideals. On the contrast, it is equally important to include African Americans in the democratic process. This will assist in incorporating republican views into the South creating political diversity while simultaneously aiding in the protection of civil rights for African Americans. In terms of holding office, it is in the Union’s best interest to restrict the right of office from a small minority of the Southern population. This group consists of those top Confederate generals whom have been convicted of treason (referenced above), and they will be denied governmental positions of any kind, regardless of whether or not they have been pardoned. All high ranking Confederate officers who have been found innocent must first submit a letter of apology (for propagating the violence of the Civil War) to the Supreme Court, who must accept it, before any public office can be bestowed upon the individual.

Seeing as a major goal of this reconstruction plan is to ensure civil rights for citizens of all races and ethnicities in the South, strict military enforcement of legislation as well as restrictions on representation must be enacted with full force, slowly loosening its grip as Southern states become complacent and adjusted to the new Southern role in the American System. Military occupation is necessary to establish a model which will create the structure to serve as a niche for Southern society. To begin, local militias will be deconstructed and 15,000 Union soldiers shall occupy each state. The troops will enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments as well as restrict the malicious activities of discriminating groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Each year, a report titled the Southern Assessment Report will be conducted. Passing or failing will be dependent on the selected state’s level of discriminatory activity. A fail will result in no change to military enforcement while a pass will result in the withdrawal of seven percent of the occupying Union force. In terms of the United States’ Senate and House of Representatives, representation will not be granted until a state passes the SAR two consecutive years. With these policies in place, the United States will be able to progressively admit the Southern states back into the Union.

The Civil War left not only smoldering buildings in the South, but a smoldering economy as well. A severe dip in cotton prices has spelt what appears to be doom for King Cotton. However, there is a way in which this once prideful region of the Union can be restored to its former glory through North-South participation. Primarily, the government shall invest sufficient money into a new technology, a steam powered planter and harvester on wheels (real life note: tractors), which will put efficiency into Southern agriculture without the need for slave labor. With this new creation, planters will be able to work with massive crops of cotton, tobacco, corn, and wheat without endless hands picking in the fields. The funding for this will come as a tax for all citizens. Once in development, this new machine will be given out to southern planters who own large amounts of land, free of charge, and paid back over time as Southern plantation owners are able to acquire monetary profits. As Southerners pay off these tractors they are given, interest will be applied, and will slowly rise as Southern planters begin making more profits from crops. This interest will go towards refunding Northern tax payers. In addition, the factories with which to make these machines can be constructed by Northern entrepreneurs in the South, as the government shall pass a bill discounting the price for Southern land for the purpose of factory building. This, in turn, coupled with a plan to construct a transcontinental railroad through the Southern portion of the country will open up job opportunities for poor whites and African Americans in the southern portion of the country.

The Union troops occupying the South will play a vast role in restoring the region as an important piece of America, while maintaining the rights of freedmen throughout. The primary role of the United States army will be to see to the halt of discriminatory acts throughout the South. Adequate police work will prove significant, as their duties will include the control of the Ku Klux Klan and murders or hateful acts based on race/ethnicity. Each time a crime of this nature occurs, it will be the duty of the Union soldiers to document it thoroughly. These accounts will be accumulated and comprise that respective state’s passing or failing of the SAR (see above). Also, Union soldiers will play a significant role in quieting any potential radical pro-Confederate movements of the “Lost Cause.”

Through Northern and Southern participation alike, the South can be reconstructed into the dynasty of old. While in the short term, the region will be heavily occupied and monitored, the end result will be a reinvigorated South with a restored sense of glory. The policies of military enforcement of law and restricted representation, while perhaps angering, will ensure that the Southern peoples will comply with the three amendments granting African Americans equal rights. Also, though additional taxes are undesirable, Northern participation would grant stronger national ties and a revived Southern economy, not to mention additional raw goods provided to the industrious North. Through the plan laid out, the South, and the entire United States itself, can return to peace and prosperity with a new ring of freedom for African Americans as well.

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Overall, your plan for Reconstruction in the South is well thought out and seems to carry out the goal to unify the Nation by integrating the South back into the country through military occupation and temporary restricted representation. However, there are a few parts in the plan that could create more problems with the South as well as some aspects do not make sense.

First, I agree that it is of upmost importance that the Ex-Confederates must pledge their loyalty to the Union in order to step forward in the direction of reconstruction. Without this oath, then it would be impossible to reunify the Nation. However, I think it would anger the Southerners more if their leaders were to be put on trial for treason because many Southerners at that time still felt that they were fighting to save their way of life, no matter how cruel and wrong they were. In addition to this, an apology note seems like it would only continue the hatred towards the Union instead of solving the problem. Thus pledging loyalty to the Union seems the safest way for the nation to unify without the anger of the South from writing an apology note to the Supreme Court or the President.

Secondly, I agree that it would be best to keep Confederate generals or officers out of the government because of the past and it’s best for the Union as a whole, however, I still feel that writing an apology note would anger the South even more. The high ranking officers of the Confederate army would hate the Union more if they had to write an apology letter for starting the Civil War because the South did not feel that they had started a war, instead they felt that the North pressured them into a war because all they wanted was to be separated from the Union.

Lastly, I believe that your plan for rebuilding the economy in the South is really well thought out, except where is the government going to get the money to invent new technology like a steam powered tractor? After the war, the South’s economy is destroyed and most Southerners are extremely poor as well as where is the North going to get money for hundreds of tractors? So how are you going to rebuild the economy without the money needed for this expensive production of the tractors?

In conclusion, your plan is a great idea to reunify the nation, but you need to alter some ideas to make sure that you do not anger Southerners and push them farther away from unification. Reconstruction after the Civil War was tough because the North had to be careful in not angering Southerners even though they had won. Its important to keep in mind that the plan is to unify the nation, not to push the South away by blaming them on this difficult topic of who started the war, ect. I think you all did a really good job in trying to accomplish this difficult task.

-Carter Ehlers