Lincoln's Ten Percent Plan: Summary & History

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Mexican Cession of 1848: Definition, Facts & Map

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Concluding the Civil War
  • 0:45 The Ten Percent Plan
  • 2:04 Ten Percent Plan in Action
  • 2:38 Radical Opposition
  • 4:08 Legacy
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adam Richards

Adam has a master's degree in history.

President Abraham Lincoln offered a lenient and attractive deal to rebelling Southerners in 1863. Learn how his Ten Percent Plan sought to offer amnesty to those individuals in rebellion, while reestablishing federal control in states that had claimed secession from the Union in this lesson.

Concluding the Civil War

If you recall the Emancipation Proclamation, you might remember that one reason for the issuance of the proclamation was as a war strategy. The same can be said for President Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the Ten Percent Plan or, as it was officially known, the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. With the tide of the Civil War turning in favor of the Union due to the capture of several Confederate states, Lincoln pushed for the beginning of Reconstruction. His goal was to offer a merciful plan to those in rebellion in the hope of turning Confederates into Unionists, which would bring the war to an accelerated conclusion.

The Ten Percent Plan

Lincoln contended that Southern secession was technically illegal and should not be honored. He argued, instead, that rebels had seized Southern state governments and created a facade known as the Confederacy. It was his goal to reestablish control by creating pro-Union governments without dissuading white Southerners to return to the Union. It was a delicate process, and Lincoln knew he had to tread lightly.

Lincoln announced the terms of his Ten Percent Plan on December 8, 1863. The proclamation was threefold. First, Lincoln offered a presidential pardon and amnesty to any rebel who vowed loyalty to the United States and its laws involving slavery. This was not applicable to Confederate government officials or military officers. Second, when any state in rebellion had ten percent of its registered voters as of 1860 swear allegiance to the United States, a new state government could be formed and recognized by the Union. Finally, Lincoln encouraged states that returned to pro-Union rule to create policies in dealing with free blacks so long as they were not returned to bondage.

Ten Percent Plan in Action

For the time being, Lincoln's plan could only work in territories that were under Union control. Amazingly, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee quickly adopted the policies of the plan. By 1864, Arkansas and Louisiana had even abolished slavery without a Constitutional amendment! Both states also created governments that were loyal to the United States and established figureheads that supported a hasty end to the war.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it now

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 220 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account