The era known as Reconstruction is one of the unhappiest times in American history. It succeeded in reuniting the nation politically after the Civil War but in little else. Conflict shifted from the battlefield to the Capitol as Congress warred with President Andrew Johnson over just what to do with the South. Johnson's plan of Presidential Reconstruction, which was sympathetic to the former Confederacy, would ultimately lead to his impeachment and the institution of Radical Reconstruction.
While Reconstruction saw the ratification of the fourteenth and fifteenth Amendments, expanding the rights and suffrage of African Americans, it largely failed to chart a progressive course for race relations after the abolition of slavery and the rise of Jim Crow. It also struggled to manage the Southern resistance towards a Northern free-labor economy. However, these failures cannot obscure a number of accomplishments with long-term consequences for American life, among them the Civil Rights Act, the election of the first African American representatives to Congress, and the avoidance of renewed civil war. Reconstruction suffered from poor leadership and uncertainty of direction, but it also laid the groundwork for renewed struggles for racial equality during the civil rights movement.
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About Allen C. Guelzo
Allen C. Guelzo is the dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern College, where he is also the Grace F. Kea Professor of American History. A former fellow of the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, he is the author of Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Philosophical Debate, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians, and The Crisis of the American Republic: A History of the Civil War and Reconstruction. He is also editor of Holland’s Life of Lincoln and coeditor of Edwards in Our Time: Jonathan Edwards and the Shaping of American Religion.
About Bob Souer
Bob Souer is a full-time professional storyteller, voice actor, and AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator. He has narrated broadcast and nonbroadcast projects for corporations and ministries across North America. His voice has been heard on PBS, the History Channel, the Military Channel, and many other networks. He has also narrated radio and television programs for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, D. James Kennedy Ministries, SIM, and Compassion International.