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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–Congress overrode his veto, making the Civil Rights Act the first major bill in the history of the United States to become law through an override of a 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.

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They alleged widespread corruption by the Carpetbaggers, excessive state spending and ruinous taxes.The Conservatives violently counterattacked and had regained power in each "redeemed" Southern state by 1877.In ten states, coalitions of freedmen, recent black and white arrivals from the North (carpetbaggers), and white Southerners who supported Reconstruction (scalawags) cooperated to form Republican biracial state governments.They introduced various reconstruction programs including: funding public schools, establishing charitable institutions, raising taxes, and offering massive aid to support improved railroad transportation and shipping.Meanwhile, public support for Reconstruction policies faded in the North, as voters decided the Civil War was over and slavery was dead. Army was central to the survival of Republican state governments; they collapsed when the Army was removed in 1877 as part of a Congressional bargain to elect Republican Rutherford B. Reconstruction was a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the United States, but most historians consider it a failure.

The Democrats, who strongly opposed Reconstruction, regained control of the House of Representatives in 1874; the presidential electoral vote in 1876 was very close and confused, forcing Congress to make the final decision. After Reconstruction ended, the South was left a poverty-stricken backwater dependent on agriculture, while white Southerners soon succeeded in re-establishing legal and political dominance over blacks through violence, intimidation and discrimination.

Intense controversy erupted throughout the South over these issues.

The laws and constitutional amendments that laid the foundation for the most radical phase of Reconstruction were adopted from 1866 to 1871.

Republicans in Congress, refusing to accept Johnson's terms, rejected new members of Congress, some of whom had been high Confederate officials a few months before.

Johnson broke with the Republicans after vetoing two key bills that supported the Freedman's Bureau and provided federal civil rights to the freedmen.

Conservative opponents called the Republican regimes corrupt and instigated violence toward freedmen and whites who supported Reconstruction.