This Week in the Civil War - #867
On July 4, 1864 the Thirty-eighth Congress of the United States adjourned amid great tension over what would be the Union’s reconstruction policy for the seceded South and who—Congress or the president—would control said policy. To the absolute chagrin of congressional Radical Republicans Lincoln refused to sign the controversial Wade-Davis Bill which would have placed reconstruction policy squarely in the hands of the Congress and not the president. Given that Lincoln had already instituted a much more lenient reconstruction in both Louisiana and Arkansas, the Radical Republicans could not have been surprised by Lincoln’s opting to pocket veto, and effectively kill, the Wade-Davis Bill. Lincoln’s decision to kill the Wade-Davis Bill was a clear signal that he intended as president to mandate reconstruction policies in the postwar era.