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The Civil War: The Senate's Story

Landmark Legislation: The Reconstruction Act of 1867
First page of the Reconstruction Act of 1867

The Reconstruction Act of 1867 outlined the terms for readmission to representation of rebel states. The bill divided the former Confederate states, except for Tennessee, into five military districts. Each state was required to write a new constitution, which needed to be approved by a majority of voters—including African Americans—in that state. In addition, each state was required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. After meeting these criteria related to protecting the rights of African Americans and their property, the former Confederate states could gain full recognition and federal representation in Congress. The act became law on March 2, 1867, after Congress overrode a presidential veto. Admission to representation of the former Confederate states began the next year, with Arkansas leading the way on June 22, 1868.

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