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Wade-Davis Bill

Abraham Lincoln

Wade-Davis Bill: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th American President who served in office from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865. The Wade Davis Bill was passed by Congress in opposition to President Lincoln's lenient plan for reunification of the United States.

Definition and Summary of the Wade-Davis Bill
Summary and definition:
The Wade Davis Bill was passed by Congress on July 2, 1864. The Wade Davis Bill was sponsored by radical Republican senators Benjamin F. Wade and Henry W. Davis, and outlined far stricter requirements for re-admission to the United States during the reunification period of Reconstruction.

The Wade Davis Bill was a response in opposition to President Lincoln's lenient Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction and his Ten Percent Plan. The Wade Davis Bill was pocket vetoed by President Abraham Lincoln and never took effect.

Reason for the Wade Davis Bill
In July 1864 the radical Republicans in Congress reacted to the lenient reunification policies of President Lincoln by passing the Wade Davis Bill. The radicals in Congress were fearful that slavery would continue due to the leniency of the Lincoln's Ten Percent Plan and the terms offered in the President's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.

Wade Davis Bill for kids: Wade Davis Bill Plan for Reconstruction and Amnesty and Pardon for Confederates
The Wade Davis Bill, was sponsored by Radical Republican senators Benjamin F. Wade and Henry W. Davis. The Wade Davis Bill outlined inflexible and far more strict, stringent requirements for re-admission of the seceded states to the nation. The Wade Davis Bill provided for:

  • The appointment of provisional military governors in the states that had seceded

  • A majority of a state’s white citizens (50%) to swear allegiance to the Union before a constitutional convention could be called

  • In order to meet this requirement, a person would be required to take an "ironclad" oath that he had never voluntarily given aid to the Confederacy

  • Each state’s constitutional convention was to disqualify Confederate officials from voting or holding office, repudiate secession and abolish slavery and these items were to be added into the new state's constitution.

Wade Davis Bill for kids: The Wade Davis Bill is pocket-vetoed by President Lincoln
President Lincoln feared that asking 50 percent of voters to take a loyalty oath would ruin any chance of ending the war quickly and would fuel further antagonism between the North and South. The President also objected to the notion that Southern states needed to "re-join" the Union. The Wade Davis Bill also provided that Congress, not the President, would be in charge of reconstruction. Abraham Lincoln therefore applied the Presidential veto of the Wade Davis bill which effectively blocked the bill by refusing to sign it before Congress went into recess. The president continued with his Ten percent Plan. Many people in the North were opposed to the Ten percent Bill and President Lincoln and Congress had reached a stalemate over plans for reunification and reconstruction. The president continued with his Ten percent Plan. Many people in the North were opposed to the Ten percent Bill and President Lincoln and Congress had reached a stalemate over plans for reunification and reconstruction.     

Wade Davis Bill: The Assassination of President Lincoln and Andrew Johnson becomes President
Time passed and the Civil War drew to its bitter end when General Robert E. Lee had admitted defeat on April 9, 1865 at the Surrender of Appomattox.  Then only a few days later, on April 14, 1865, the unthinkable happened and President Lincoln was assassinated. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency and immediately became involved in the struggle with Congress regarding the process of Reunification and Reconstruction.

Wade Davis Bill for kids: The Significance of the Wade Davis Bill Plan for Reconstruction
The Significance of the Wade Davis Bill Plan for Reconstruction was that many members of Congress, and the nation, had made it clear that harsher terms were required for dealing with the Southern states. After President Lincoln's death, Radical Republicans battled President Andrew Johnson, who came from Tennessee and tried to continue a new version of Lincoln's plan but at the same time tried to appease the radicals in Congress. The radicals wanted a much harsher plan, but they did not try to re-impose the terms of Wade Davis. Instead they took control of the southern states with the Army, which registered black Freedmen as voters and refused to allow former Confederates to run for office.

US American History
1850-1865: Civil War Era

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