Reconstruction

Engraving of Confederate troops being administered the Oath of Allegiance.

After the war, the federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves.

Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting different definitions. Eventually, faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, the government abandoned efforts for black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites.

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  • Booker T Washington National Monument

    A Time of Reckoning

    Photo of Booker T. Washington speaking in Louisiana

    Though the end of the Civil War brought the 13th Amendment, ending slavery and providing emancipation for more than four milllion enslaved people, the Reconstruction era during which Booker T. Washington came of age witnessed legislation that attempted to limit African Americans' new found freedoms. Read more

  • Picture depictsing former slaves and free blacks voting following the passage of the 15th amendment

    During Reconstruction, the Federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves. Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting divergent definitions. Faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, however, the government abandoned efforts for black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites. Read more