The Reconstruction period refers to the era following the American [[Civil War]], lasting from 1865 to 1877. Its main goal was to rebuild the Southern United States, which had been devastated by the war, and to reintegrate the Confederate states back into the Union. This period was marked by significant political, social, and economic changes, as well as the struggle for [[civil rights]] for newly freed African Americans. ## Key aspects of Reconstruction 1. **Presidential Reconstruction (1865-1867)**: Initially led by President Abraham Lincoln and later continued by President Andrew Johnson, this phase aimed at a lenient and quick reintegration of the Southern states. The Southern states were required to accept the abolition of [[slavery]] and swear loyalty to the Union. However, Johnson's lenient policies led to the rise of "[[Black Codes]]," which severely restricted the rights of African Americans. 2. **Radical Reconstruction (1867-1877)**: In response to the [[Black Codes]] and the South's resistance to change, the Radical Republicans in [[Congress]] took control of the Reconstruction process. They passed the Reconstruction Acts, which divided the South into five military districts, each governed by a Union general. To be readmitted to the Union, Southern states had to ratify the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship and equal protection under the law to African Americans. 3. **Constitutional Amendments**: Three crucial amendments to the US [[Constitution]] were adopted during this period. - **13th Amendment (1865)**: Abolished slavery throughout the United States. - **14th Amendment (1868)**: Granted citizenship and equal protection under the law to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including former slaves. - **15th Amendment (1870)**: Prohibited the denial of voting rights based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 4. **Freedmen's Bureau**: Established in 1865, this federal agency provided assistance to newly freed African Americans, including food, housing, education, and legal representation. The Bureau played a crucial role in establishing schools and offering aid to the African American community. 5. **The Rise of the [[Ku Klux Klan (KKK)]] and other white supremacist groups**: These groups emerged in the South during the Reconstruction period, using violence and intimidation to suppress African American political participation and civil rights. 6. **The Compromise of 1877**: The contested presidential election of 1876 between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden resulted in the Compromise of 1877. In exchange for Hayes becoming President, the Republicans agreed to end the military occupation of the South, effectively ending Reconstruction. Reconstruction left a mixed legacy. While it brought significant constitutional changes and laid the foundation for civil rights, the withdrawal of federal troops and the rise of white supremacist groups led to the establishment of the [[Jim Crow]] system, which enforced racial [[segregation]] and denied African Americans their basic rights for almost a century. See also: [[Civil Rights Act]], [[Great Society]], [[Confederates]], [[Jim Crow]]