Digital Repository

Wade-Davis Bill, 1864

In 1863, Lincoln proposed a “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction” (commonly referred to as the “Ten Percent Plan”), which allowed the states that had seceded to rejoin the Union if a minority of voters (equal to at least ten percent of those who had cast ballots in the election of 1860) swore allegiance to the Union and agreed to emancipation. Radical Republicans opposed this plan as too lenient and passed a far stricter bill of their own, the Wade-Davis Bill. The Wade-Davis Bill stipulated that former Confederate states could return to the Union only after a majority of their citizens had taken the “Ironclad Oath,” swearing that they had never voluntarily borne arms against the Union or supported the Confederacy.

Handwritten copy of Wade-Davis Bill as originally submitted, 1864. Records of Legislative Proceedings, Records of the United States House of Representatives 1789-1946, Record Group 233, National Archives.