Ten percent plan
During the American Civil War in December 1863, Abraham Lincoln offered a model for reinstatement of Southern states called the 10 percent Reconstruction plan. It decreed that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of the 1860 vote count from that state had taken an oath of allegiance to the U.S. and pledged to abide by emancipation. Voters could then elect delegates to draft revised state constitutions and establish new state governments. All southerners except for high-ranking Confederate army officers and government officials would be granted a full pardon. Lincoln guaranteed southerners that he would protect their private property, though not their slaves. By 1864, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas had established fully functioning Unionist governments.
This policy was meant to shorten the war by offering a moderate peace plan. It was also intended to further his emancipation policy by insisting that the new governments abolished slavery.
Congress reacted sharply to this proclamation of Lincoln's plan. Most moderate Republicans in Congress supported the president’s proposal for Reconstruction because they wanted to bring a swift end to the war, but other Republicans feared that the planter aristocracy would be restored and the blacks would be forced back into slavery. Lincoln's reconstructive policy toward the South was lenient because he wanted to popularize his Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln feared that compelling enforcement of the proclamation could lead to the defeat of the Republican Party in the election of 1864, and that popular Democrats could overturn his proclamation. Some Republicans pushed through Congress the Wade-Davis Bill in July 1864, which outlined more stringent requirements for re-admission. This was pocket-vetoed by Lincoln after it passed.
The Radical Republicans opposed Lincoln's plan, as they thought it too lenient towards the South. They feared that Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction was not harsh enough, believing that the South needed to be punished for causing the war. These Radical Republicans hoped to control the Reconstruction process, transform southern society, disband the planter aristocracy, redistribute land, develop industry, and guarantee civil liberties for former slaves. Although the Radical Republicans were the minority party in Congress, they managed to sway many moderates in the postwar years and came to dominate Congress in later sessions. In the summer of 1864, the Radical Republicans passed the Wade-Davis Bill to counter Lincoln’s Ten-Percent Plan.
- Foner, Eric. Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation & Reconstruction. New York: Vintage Books, 2005.
- Sparknotes. http://www.sparknotes.com/history/american/reconstruction/section1.rhtml
- Lincoln's Proclamation http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/procamn.htm