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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    Last updated: April 23, 2015