Reconstruction Acts

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The Reconstruction Acts, or Military Reconstruction Acts, (March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 428-430, c.153; March 23, 1867, 15 Stat. 2-5, c.6; July 19, 1867, 15 Stat. 14-16, c.30; and March 11, 1868, 15 Stat. 41, c.25) were four statutes passed during the Reconstruction Era by the 40th United States Congress. The actual title of the initial legislation was "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States" and it was passed on March 2, 1867. Fulfillment of the requirements of the Acts was necessary for the former Confederate States to be re-admitted to the Union. The Acts included Tennessee,[1] which had already ratified the 14th Amendment and had been readmitted to the Union.

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A key feature of the Acts included the creation of five military districts in the South, each commanded by a general, which would serve as the acting government for the region.

In addition, Congress required that each state draft a new state constitution, which would have to be approved by Congress. The states also were required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and grant voting rights to black men. However, many of the new state constitutions adopted were soon replaced in the 1890s by Democrats as they sought to institute segregation and disenfranchise African Americans.

President Andrew Johnson's vetoes of these measures were overridden by Congress. After Ex Parte McCardle (1867) came before the Supreme Court, Congress feared that the Court might strike the Reconstruction Acts down as unconstitutional. To prevent this, Congress repealed the Habeas Corpus Act 1867, revoking the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over the case.

Governor of Georgia Charles J. Jenkins, elected in 1865 as the only candidate to succeed James Johnson (appointed by President Andrew Johnson), was replaced by General George Meade (of the Third Military District) with Brig. General Thomas H. Ruger.[2]

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