Reconstruction Era

In the history of the United States, the term Reconstruction Era has two senses: the first covers the complete history of the entire U.S. from 1865 to 1877 following the Civil War; the second sense focuses on the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Washington, with the reconstruction of state and society.

From 1863 to 1869, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson (who became president on April 15, 1865) took a moderate position designed to bring the South back to normal as soon as possible, while the Radical Republicans (as they called themselves) used Congress to block the moderate approach, impose harsh terms, and upgrade the rights of the Freedmen (former slaves). The views of Lincoln and Johnson prevailed until the election of 1866, which enabled the Radicals to take control of policy, remove former Confederates from power, and enfranchise the Freedmen. A Republican coalition came to power in nearly all the southern states and set out to transform the society by setting up a free labor economy, with support from the Army and the Freedman's Bureau. The Radicals, upset at President Johnson's opposition to Congressional Reconstruction, filed impeachment charges but the action failed by one vote in the Senate. President Ulysses S. Grant supported Radical Reconstruction, using both the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. military to suppress white insurgency and support Republican reconstructed states. Southern Democrats, alleging widespread corruption, counterattacked and regained power in each state by 1877. President Rutherford B. Hayes blocked efforts to overturn Reconstruction legislation.

The deployment of the U.S. military was central to the establishment of Southern Reconstructed state governments and the suppression of violence against black and white voters. Reconstruction was a remarkable chapter in the story of American freedom, but most historians consider it a failure because the region became a poverty-stricken backwater and whites re-established their supremacy, making the Freedmen second-class citizens by the start of the 20th century. Historian Eric Foner argues, "What remains certain is that Reconstruction failed, and that for blacks its failure was a disaster whose magnitude cannot be obscured by the genuine accomplishments that did endure."

Read more about Reconstruction Era:  Dating The Reconstruction Era, Overview, Purpose, Material Devastation of The South in 1865, Restoring The South To The Union, Johnson's Presidential Reconstruction, Congress Imposes Radical Reconstruction, Grant: The Radical President, Congressional Investigation (1871–1872), Readmission To Representation in Congress, African-American Officeholders, Public Schools, Railroad Subsidies and Payoffs, Taxation During Reconstruction, Conservative Democrat Reaction, Hayes: The Last Reconstruction President, Legacy and Historiography, Reconstruction State-by-state – Significant Dates

Famous quotes containing the word era:

    It is not an era of repose. We have used up all our inherited freedom. If we would save our lives, we must fight for them.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)