Wade-Davis Bill


Wade-Davis Bill
(1864) Measure passed by the U.S. Congress to set Reconstruction policy.

It was cosponsored by Sen. Benjamin Wade and Rep. Henry W. Davis (1817–65) to counter Pres. Abraham Lincoln's lenient plans for readmitting Southern states after the American Civil War. Supported by the Radical Republicans, the bill called for provisional military government of the seceded states, an oath of allegiance from a majority of the state's whites, and new state constitutions that would abolish slavery and disqualify Confederate officials from holding office. Lincoln considered the bill too harsh and allowed it to expire by using a pocket veto.

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United States [1864]
      (1864), unsuccessful attempt by Radical Republicans and others in the U.S. Congress to set Reconstruction policy before the end of the Civil War. The bill, sponsored by senators Benjamin F. Wade and Henry W. Davis, provided for the appointment of provisional military governors in the seceded states. When a majority of a state's white citizens swore allegiance to the Union, a constitutional convention could be called. Each state's constitution was to be required to abolish slavery, repudiate secession, and disqualify Confederate officials from voting or holding office. In order to qualify for the franchise, a person would be required to take an oath that he had never voluntarily given aid to the Confederacy. President Abraham Lincoln's pocket veto of the bill presaged the struggle that was to take place after the war between President Andrew Johnson and the Radical Republicans in Congress.

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Universalium. 2010.

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