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United States Congress, "An Act to provide for the more efficient Government of the Rebel States," March 2, 1867.

Legislative Iconic image, U.S. Capitol, 2008

With developments in the South increasingly frustrating Republicans, the Thirty-Ninth Congress moved in its "lame duck" session to pass a sweeping bill that imposed military rule on the former Confederate states until they instituted the reforms the Congress deemed as needed for normal and full representation on the national stage. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 had been formulated in the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the Thirty-Ninth Congress and reported as a bill on February 3, 1867.  It had passed the House of Representatives 109 votes to 55, with another twenty-six not voting. On February 17, 1867, an amended version of the bill passed the U.S. Senate on a vote of 29 to 10, and included a change the House had earlier rejected from James Blaine of Maine that a simple ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment would significantly aid a state's acceptance.  The House initially resisted the Senate's changes but, with some safeguards in place, accepted the Senate version on February 20, 1867.  As expected, President Johnson rejected the bill on March 2, 1867 but before the day was out both chambers had decisievely over-ridden his veto and the bill became law.  (By John Osborne)

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