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There is still contention over whether Reconstruction was a misguided scheme that collapsed or an experiment that lacked authority A period marked by tremendous controversy the government faced issues such the extent of the constitutional powers of the federal government to intervene in a states affairs whether the victors should try to change the South fundamentally and the status of the black ex-slaves or freedmen Not only would these consequential issues spark struggles between political parties but they would also play a dramatic role in deciding the ultimate outcome of Radical Reconstruction Political affiliations were a key determinant of views on those issues Congress passed a series of Reconstruction Acts in 1867 These laws placed the South under temporary military occupation and divided it into 5 military districts each under the command of a Union general Reluctant to make the national government permanently responsible for the protection of the ex-slaves Republicans decided to enfranchise blacks so that Southern politicians would have to treat them fairly to get their votes This program became known as Radical Reconstruction The status of freedmen and the role they would play in society was one of the most critical issues to be handled In 1865 the 13th Amendment was ratified this abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States and gave Congress the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation Congress in 1866 also passed the Freedmens Bureau Act and proposed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which declared blacks to be citizens prohibited states from discriminating against any class of citizens or denying any citizen fundamental rights and banned Confederate leaders from holding federal or state office until Congress removed the disqualification These amendments would be extremely momentous for African-Americans they would be the first anti-discrimination laws that were intended to protect their civic rights and give African-Americans hope for the future To round out their program the Republicans in 1869 proposed the 15th Amendment
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