Charlotte, Jessica, and Geneva

The primary goal of Reconstruction is to accomplish what the war was fought for. There is no perfect solution, no way to go about it that will please everyone, but doing nothing is simply not an option. An effort has to be made to deal with the wounds the war has left and the new questions of status and civil rights. This means, in part, to restore the southern states to the union and make the United States one nation under a strong central power. However, with all of the Union blood spilled for emancipation and to change the ways of the Old South that led to the war, civil rights cannot be ignored. Without firm protections for the civil rights of all citizens and an investment in reshaping the south, Reconstruction will only enable the old prejudices to take hold. The South did not win this war, and there will be no delusions of that nature, though we will not be going out of our way to "punish" people as a means of healing fresh wounds. Some may see our revitalizing of the area as a punishment, but it is not the intent. We must ensure civil rights for posterity or face cultural stagnation that will harm the south more than Sherman's blaze.

Former Confederates will not be deported or executed. Though some would argue for that, as they did commit treason by turning their bayonets on their countrymen, the South has already lost a good percentage of its population and can't afford to lose more if it intends to recover economically. It's entirely impractical. Instead, they will be made to sign a formal "apology note" and contract, stating that they may keep their beliefs as a nation with a thriving First Amendment cannot tell anyone what to think, they recognize that the Confederacy is dead and that they will remain loyal to the union. They will be granted pardons once they have signed. Anyone who refuses to sign this contract will serve jail time unless they voluntarily leave the country. The point is, of course, to return the population of the south to the union, not to deport them, but if they wish to leave no one will stop them. Those who are imprisoned for refusing to sign the contract and not leaving voluntarily will be given the opportunity to lessen their sentence if they serve community service, where they will be put to work building schools, libraries, and medical clinics in the south.
Charlotte makes some "random" point.

Freedmen will be given access to education, education being a core component of our Reconstruction effort. Public schools will be built throughout the South, catering to young students of all ethnicities with the aim of raising the overall literacy rate and producing an educated middle class of voters. Access to higher education will also be a focus, by encouraging entrepreneurship in the education sector. Though some Southerners resent educated individuals coming down from the North, wealthy investors and hard workers will be given grants if they seek to invest in opening colleges. Without access to free education, the 90% illiterate African American population will have no social mobility and basically be slaves in all but the name. Hate crimes will be outlawed straightaway, and racial discrimination in hiring will be outlawed at the federal level. Anyone found guilty of violence against Freedmen or using violent tactics for political reasons (i.e. Klansmen seeking to frighten Republican officials away) will be given a prison sentence that includes mandatory community service to work on building the schools. The rest of the manpower needed to build these institutions of education could also be found in Freedmen looking for work after their plantations folded, giving them jobs while they ensure a better life for the next generation. They will be encouraged to get involved in politics, with the emphasis still on educating the next generation to create fully educated voters.

Ex-Confederates will be permitted to run for office, with certain restrictions, once their states are formally restored to the union and they signed the contract of loyalty. No man who served in the Confederate Army or as part of its government can ever hold the office of president or vice president, and must further swear to uphold the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments if they are elected to the House or Senate. High-level confederate generals or politicians may not be elected to the House or Senate at all. If a former Confederate soldier that is elected to either of these positions or their home state be found to be defying these amendments they risk being removed from higher office. Government officials may be of any race, but must be at least twenty-two years of age, have at least five years of education and a basic level of literacy, and all preexisting rules of birthplace and citizenship apply - including that universal racial suffrage has been granted following the war. All former Confederates who signed the contract and apology will be allowed to vote in all elections, as they are still citizens. African American citizens will also be given the ballot, as dictated by the 15th Amendment. No laws barring eligible voters for their former condition of servitude or their lineage may be enacted. All voters must be at least fifteen years of age, and have received five years of public education beginning in 1890 - once the public schools have been construction and utilized on a wide scale.

Southern states that ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and whose leading Confederates have either signed the contract or been jailed for refusing to sign can return to the union. They will have the full rights and representation guaranteed to all states once they follow all the laws the rest of the states follow - meaning they must follow through with the Emancipation Proclamation. They will also be prohibited from passing laws that discriminate against anyone of a certain ethnicity with a law passed on a federal level applying to all states. That includes the passage of discriminatory "black codes." And, of course, other rules barring high-level confederates from higher office still apply once they have gained full rights and representation. Sending someone who was important to the cause of splitting the union into a high level office of that union would only recreate the problem in the vein of employing a vegan in a butcher shop, but the point of the war being over is that the country will be one and whole again, which means the South needs to be represented.

During the war, "King Cotton" was expected to be a strong ally of the Confederacy. However, other countries compensated for losing their American cotton supplies by planting it in various places around the would. A sudden return to a cotton economy will not produce the same prosperity as before the war. First, there is no longer a free labor force to be exploited, and second, by the law of economics the increased supply of the product lowers the demand and therefore the price. It's not a viable long-term solution to expand over space. Money should be set aside and accumulated to industrialize the South, and captains of industry should be encouraged to expand into the wide open spaces of the south with unemployed citizens in search of work. However, apart from the swaths of land that were left charred in Sherman's wake the South does have the infrastructure for agriculture. In the short term the focus should be on finding viable crops besides cotton to resow some of the fields - particularly food. With an eye on cultivating a greater variety of crops for the sake of the soil and the hungry population in the short term, and an eye on moving towards industrialization in the long term, the Southern economy can be restored.

There will be those in the South who are reluctant to accept that the world is changing rapidly in the wake of the industrial revolution. But this new, fast-paced world doesn't have time to wait for them to get over it. Instead, Union troops should be retained as a peacekeeping police force. Now, this does not mean that they will be pushing Republican leadership through the ballot box at bayonet-point. This means they will have a temporary contract in the area to prevent any sort of race riots or hate crimes from occurring. They're there to make sure that laws are being followed, and that locals aren't free to put sheets over their head and set buildings on fire without a hefty jail sentence. Some of these Union soldiers could also be employed in guarding the ballot box, ensuring that all citizens have access to it, as fair elections are a cornerstone of stability and equality. However, it is still a temporary situation, a measure put in place to smooth the turbulent initial reaction to Reconstruction and the end of the war. When the rule of law is clearly established and the South has proven to have a reasonable measure of stability, the troops will be withdrawn and return home.

In this, as with any plans, there will no doubt be a few obstacles and some resistance. Money is not unlimited, and some racial scars run deep. Still, a focus on civil rights, ensuring access to public education, and reshaping the Southern economy should create some effective solvency, and attempting to nip problems like the KKK and "black codes" in the bud will be better in the long run.



Overall, your plan is thorough and seems to be a coherent proposal for restoring the country. Most of the plans could work smoothly without backlash from the South or monetary problems. However, there are a few proposals and plans that could create some problems and result in debt. Also, some aspects of the argument simply don’t make sense.

First of all, an apology note seems like a viable solution for the former Confederates to stay loyal to the country at first glance. However, how is this apology note going to be administered to every ex-Confederate to sign and will it not fuel the hate that they already have for the Union? And if they don’t sign it they will be jailed? This is basically forcing them to pledge loyalty to the Union and ultimately driving them further away from the Union. A better plan would simply give them the option of pledging loyalty and if so they will become citizens thus granting them the right to vote and hold office in the Union. There is no need to have an apology note that will forcibly punish former confederate if they don’t abide by the laws of the Union.

Secondly, your plan proposes for public schools to be built across the South so that freedmen can be given basic education. There is no problem with establishing a public education system and it seems like a necessary step toward restoring the Union. However, where is the money going to come from that is to help build all of these public schools? Remember, at this point there is no federal tax that the government has issued. In order to profitably build and manage this public education system there must be some kind of tax to support the building, maintaining, and paying employees of the public schools.

Another issue that is related to a federal tax is the rebuilding of the Southern economy. Where is the money going to come from to support the reestablishment of agriculture and slow industrialization of the South? This federal tax seems almost necessary to carry out a successful Reconstruction plan.

Lastly, I agree with your plan to allow men of any race the right to become government officials, but where did you come up with having to be twenty-two years old to run for office? This seems a little young even if someone has basic education and literary skills. It seems that it would be better to make this law as old as in the thirties or at least the late twenties. Someone running for office needs previous experience in some facet of government. Also, you say that one only has to be fifteen years old to vote. Isn’t this really “random” as you group name is called and don’t you believe citizens need to be at least eighteen to vote such as in today’s society? I just don’t see how a fifteen-year-old, white or black, can make an educated decision concerning the welfare of this nation

In conclusion, your plan is well thought out and makes logical sense but also has some key shortcomings that could ultimately result in failure to restore the South and reunify the country.

Peyton Warley