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Meanwhile, self-styled Conservatives (in close cooperation with the Democratic Party) strongly opposed Republican rule.They alleged widespread corruption by the Carpetbaggers, excessive state spending and ruinous taxes.The opposition violently counterattacked and regained power in each "redeemed" Southern state by 1877.

From 1863 to 1865, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson both took moderate positions designed to bring the South back to normal as quickly as possible, while the Radical Republicans used Congress to block any moderate approaches, impose harsh terms, and upgrade the rights of the freedmen.

Johnson followed a lenient policy toward ex-Confederates much like Lincoln's.

Lincoln's last speeches show that he was leaning toward supporting the enfranchisement of all freedmen, whereas Johnson was opposed to this.

In early 1866, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau and Civil Rights Bills and sent them to Johnson for his signature.

The first bill extended the life of the bureau, originally established as a temporary organization charged with assisting refugees and freed slaves, while the second defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens who were to enjoy equality before the law.

After Johnson vetoed the bills–causing a permanent rupture in his relationship with Congress that would culminate in his impeachment in 1868–the Civil Rights Act became the first major bill to become law over presidential veto. Grant supported Radical Reconstruction and enforced the protection of African Americans in the South through the use of the Enforcement Acts passed by Congress.Grant suppressed the Ku Klux Klan, but was unable to resolve the escalating tensions inside the Republican party between the Carpetbaggers and the Scalawags (native whites in the South).Johnson's interpretations of Lincoln's policies prevailed until the Congressional elections of 1866 in the North, which enabled the Radicals to take control of policy, remove former Confederates from power, and enfranchise the freedmen. The Bureau protected the legal rights of freedmen, negotiated labor contracts, and set up schools and even churches for them.A Republican coalition came to power in nearly all the southern states and set out to transform the society by setting up a free labor economy, using the U. Thousands of Northerners came South as missionaries, teachers, businessmen and politicians; hostile elements called them "Carpetbaggers".Rebuilding the rundown railroad system was a major strategy, but it collapsed when a nationwide depression (called the Panic of 1873) struck the economy.The Radicals, frustrated by Johnson's opposition to Congressional Reconstruction, filed impeachment charges but the action failed by one vote in the Senate.