Blacks were denied any role in the process. Johnson also ordered nearly all the land in the hands of the government returned to its prewar owners -- dashing black hope for economic autonomy.
At the outset, most Northerners believed Johnson's plan deserved a chance to succeed. The course followed by Southern state governments under Presidential Reconstruction, however, turned most of the North against Johnson's policy. Members of the old Southern elite, including many who had served in the Confederate government and army, returned to power.
The new legislatures passed the Black Codes, severely limiting the former slaves' legal rights and economic options so as to force them to return to the plantations as dependent laborers. Some states limited the occupations open to blacks. None allowed any blacks to vote, or provided public funds for their education.