Reconstruction after the Civil War

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Reconstruction after the Civil War

This essay will examine the period of Reconstruction in the United States following the Civil War. It will discuss the political, social, and economic challenges of rebuilding the nation, especially in the Southern states. The piece will explore the major policies and events of the era, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the rise of Jim Crow laws. It will also assess the long-term impacts of Reconstruction on American society. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Civil War.

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Following the Union’s triumph in the American Civil War, the country faced some of the most pressing concerns shaping its future course; this period is known as the Reconstruction Period. One of these critical problems was how to restore America and the nation after the horrors of the Civil War. Approximately six million men died throughout the war due to sickness, starvation, accidents, and actual battle. During the war’s shock and fear, the United States also faced significant challenges in debt, racism, and slavery (Newton Gresham Library).

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In light of these problems, the nation needed to devise a quick but effective strategy to bring the United States back on track following the world’s terrible conditions. Following the Union’s triumph in the American Civil War, the United States entered the Reconstruction period in ecstasy from 1865 to 1877. Conflicting political ideologies and outbreaks of violence between Northerners and Southerners over African American rights in the South raised severe problems such as racism and slavery.

Plans for Reconstruction were made in 1863 before the period started. Abraham Lincoln took the administrative decision to abolish slavery to facilitate the nation’s recovery after the war. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, resulting in the abolition of millions of slaves (Howard University). Slavery was a serious issue that needed to be addressed since all members of a community had the right to fair treatment. Congress reached an agreement in January 1865 on how to satisfy Abraham Lincoln’s request. On December 18, 1865, the United States Congress enacted the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. After the American Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. Andrew Johnson was president from 1865 to 1869, and Ulysses S. Grant was president from 1869 to 1877, governing the country during Reconstruction (Howard University). The increased migration of formerly enslaved African Americans established “black codes” in cities throughout the country. Enslaved persons “black codes” acted as a rule governing their work, conduct, and rights.

Northerners were outraged when they realized the regulations barred enslaved people from gaining their freedom. The public uproar triggered what is now known as the Presidential Reconstruction Initiative. President Johnson chose to return some of the rights lost during the war to the Southern states, which housed most enslaved people at the time. States mistreated blacks and impoverished whites, ushering the country into the period known as “Radical Reconstruction,” which Johnson had sought to avoid. Protests, constitutional revisions, and legislative measures were all the outcomes of Radical Reconstruction, and they helped mold the United States into what it is now (, AE Television Network).

Because the Union won the American Civil War, the Reconstruction period began on a high note. After four years, Americans were relieved that the war was finally finished. In recognition of the end of slavery, a celebration of the 13th Amendment’s release of all enslaved people, which gave joy to African Americans, was celebrated. Even though his vice president was supposed to carry out Lincoln’s plan to provide all blacks, including those in the military, the right to vote, Lincoln only had a few days before he was assassinated to design a strategy to reunite the South. During Reconstruction, two further amendments were enacted in addition to the 13th Amendment. The 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection to all formerly enslaved people (, AE Television Network).

The 15th Amendment ensured that no American citizen would be denied the right to vote “on race, color, or former condition of servitude.” As a result of the amendments, the lives and identities of newly freed African Americans became the primary focus ofC. Elections to state legislatures in the South and the United States Congress expanded the number of strong black people across the globe. During the Reconstruction era, in addition to various other victories and accomplishments, fair taxation legislation, public education systems, and anti-discrimination laws were also implemented. (, AE Television Network).

Tragedies blighted the Reconstruction phase. Black codes were an early warning sign that the United States was heading in the wrong direction in the immediate postwar period. The Union sought to reestablish trust in the South by offering debt relief and the opportunity to reconstruct the states after the war. The South took advantage of the Union’s generosity and utilized its newly obtained authority to impose severe “black codes” (Howard University). Northerners were perplexed and disgruntled by the choice to limit rights after the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation had restored freedom. Due to strict politeness conventions, northern diplomats often avoided seating near their Southern colleagues. The Civil Rights Act and the establishment of the Freedmen’s Bureau were passed by Congress and forwarded to President Johnson for signature. Congress did not back Andrew Johnson’s vetoes of the two Acts. President Johnson was removed from office as a result of this incident.

The Reconstruction Act of 1867, which split the South and investigated the establishment of the government, began with a march against Johnson’s veto. As the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations grew worldwide, African Americans who defied white authority became a target (, AE Television Network).

Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877 and was marked by victory and failure. Racism and slavery shaped Congress’s choices throughout the period. Racial tensions persist today, so understanding what happened during Reconstruction is critical. The civil rights movement (1954-1968) indicates that a century after Reconstruction, African Americans are still battling for equality (Historical South Carolina Newspapers). Without a proposed solution to the 16th-century concerns of racism and slavery, the world society would not be as peaceful as it is now.

Works Cited

  1. Foner, Eric. “Reconstruction”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 29 Aug. 2022, Accessed 23 October 2022.
  2. Newton Gresham Library. “U.S. History: Primary Source Collections Online.” (n.d.).
  3. Howard University. “Today in History.” Library of Congress. (n.d.).
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Reconstruction After the Civil War. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from