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Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 1866

After extensive inquiry in former Confederate states, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction recommended that Congress set conditions for readmission of those states to representation in the Union. Concerned about violence against African Americans in the South, the committee sought to guarantee them legal protection through a constitutional amendment. Ratification of the amendment would be a requirement for readmission of the Southern states.

General Collection, Library of Congress

Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, 1866

Reconstruction of the Union

After the Civil War, Congress and the executive branch struggled over when and how to bring the former Confederate states back into the Union. The Joint Committee on Reconstruction—established by Congress in December 1865 to investigate and establish conditions for seceded states to regain their congressional representation—strongly disagreed with President Andrew Johnson’s preference for quick readmission. After a yearlong study, the fifteen-member committee outlined qualifications for readmission, including ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.