Johnson pursued this course at the urging of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Radical Republicans in the United States Congress.
Johnson, however, did not want to punish all Southerners for the Civil War.
Before a compromise between the President and the Congress could be reached, Lincoln died from an assassin's bullet on April 15, 1865, less than a week after the official end of the Civil War.
Andrew Johnson, the vice-president of the United States, took control of Reconstruction after Lincoln's death.
The Radical Republicans in Congress were angered by Johnson's actions.
They refused to allow Southern representatives and senators to take their seats in Congress.
Lincoln refused to sign the bill, effectively vetoing it.
As a result of this split between the president and Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate refused to accept Unionist representatives and senators from Louisiana and Arkansas in 1864.
He at first followed a harsh policy toward the defeated Southerners, denying political rights to anyone who had supported the Confederacy in a military or governmental role during the rebellion.
He also agreed to the arrest of several prominent Confederate officials.