Abraham Lincoln

The Political Cartoon That Explains the Battle Over Reconstruction

The end of the U. S. Civil War left the nation in shambles. President Abraham Lincoln faced the monumental tasks of re-integrating the South back into the Union, healing political wounds, and guiding freed slaves into a new life. But Lincoln was assassinated, and Andrew Johnson became president. Johnson’s approach to postwar rebuilding was different from what Lincoln had in mind. Historian Michael Les Benedict and history professors Heather Richardson and Brooks Simpson explain what went on.

“He pardons all but about 1,500 of the leading Confederates,” Richardson says. “Those people who took the South out of the Union are now free and fair citizens again of the United States, less than…