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When Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency in April 1865, he took charge of the nation’s Reconstruction plan. Under Johnson’s plan, white Southerners were allowed to elect ex-Confederate officers to Congress and to new state legislatures. In addition, those new state governments wrote Black Codes that restricted the rights of African Americans. Northern legislators condemned those actions. They refused to readmit Southern states under Johnson’s plan. But Congress was left with a problem: How could it protect Black Americans without punishing white exConfederates to such a degree that they would hate the United States forever?