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U.S. History I: Reconstruction
After the Civil War, the United States wasn't in the best shape. The South had taken some hard hits, and the beloved president Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. We were left without a leader who had been such a strong influence during the war, and half the country was still bitter over the way the war ended. Reconstruction was the period after the war from 1865-1877 when the country worked to get itself back together and functioning as a whole again. Our lessons will cover a range of topics from this period to help you learn what life was like, the struggles the country saw and the many factors that influenced its development along the way.
Find our lesson on President Lincoln's legacy if you want to learn more about what his hopes were for the country once the war ended. Discover how he had planned to reform a harmonious nation, and see what he wanted to achieve with the war-torn Southern states.
Since Lincoln wasn't around anymore, someone had to step in. The newly elected president Andrew Johnson was the man who took on this role. See how President Johnson tried to follow Lincoln's plans. Learn about how he attempted to move forward with his foreign policy, too. Then watch our lesson that talks about his impeachment, which resulted from a conflict between Johnson and Congress.
Once again, the country needed a president who could help them rebuild. Who came along this time? It was one of the war's top Northern generals, Ulysses S. Grant. But President Grant didn't come into power easily. Some corruption from the electoral process followed him into office. Find out all about it in our lesson on Grant.
Despite the political issues, the country still needed repairing. During this period, there were three amendments added to the Constitution. You'll learn about the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, called the Reconstruction Amendments, in our lesson.
This period wasn't all about politics and government, though. Reconstruction was a very personal thing for the people who had to live through those years. Our lessons will introduce you to the effects of reconstruction on African Americans and the opportunities it brought to the newly freed ex-slaves. Also, peek into what life was like in the South during this period. We have lessons that will teach you about the Transcontinental Railroad, the Homestead Act and the women's suffrage movement, all of which would bring new, major changes to the country.
Just because the country was trying to rebuild from the horrors of the Civil War didn't mean everything was calm. The government was still trying to expand, and this meant war with the Native Americans. Discover more in our lesson on the Indian Wars and see how fighting between the settlers and Native Americans caused some big issues.
Reconstruction didn't last forever. It also wasn't the most successful thing, but it did help somewhat. Let our lessons explain how it was successful and where it didn't quite live up to expectations. Also, discover how the election of 1876 helped to bring an end to the reconstruction period.
1. President Lincoln's Legacy: Plans for a Reconstructed Union
Before the guns of the American Civil War fell silent, President Abraham Lincoln was making plans for the reconstruction of the South. In this lesson, learn what his plans involved and the controversy surrounding them.
2. President Andrew Johnson: Attempts to Continue Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan
When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the task of Reconstruction fell to President Andrew Johnson. He was soon at odds with many different factions in the nation. While Johnson was not successful in domestic policy, his administration had a few foreign successes.
3. The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson: Conflict Between President and Congress
Congressional Reconstruction, guided by Radical Republicans, aggressively pursued political equality for African Americans as defined by several pieces of legislation and the 14th Amendment. Conflict between Congress and President Andrew Johnson escalated until he was impeached.
4. President Ulysses S. Grant: Election, Successes and Corruption
Ulysses S. Grant, the Union hero of the Civil War, was elected in 1868, the last U.S. president to have been a slave owner. Despite his popularity, the nation faced social, economic and political difficulties, and his administration was shrouded in corruption.
5. The Reconstruction Amendments: The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments
Between 1865 and 1870, during the historical era known as Reconstruction, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified to establish political equality for all Americans. Together, they are known as the Reconstruction Amendments.
6. Primary Source: Passage of the 14th Amendment by the US Senate on June 9, 1866
The 14th Amendment, passed in 1866, allowed Confederate states to return to the United States. The former Confederate state legislatures of the South had to pass the amendment in order to again receive representation in Washington D.C.
7. Reconstruction's Effects on African Americans: Politics, Education and Economy
The era in U.S. history known as Reconstruction presented many new opportunities to African Americans, especially in the South. For the first time, freedmen were free to pursue economic independence, education, religion and politics. These pursuits are embodied in the accomplishments of four men: Alonzo Herndon, Booker T. Washington, Jonathan Gibbs and Hiram Revels.
8. Life in the South After the Civil War
Following the Civil War, the era of Reconstruction was a difficult time for Southerners. Their land was destroyed, their political institutions were overrun by outsiders, the economy was in transition and their society was in upheaval. It was in this climate that the Ku Klux Klan was born and the Redeemers sought to reestablish the Old South.
9. Transcontinental Railroad, Homestead Act and Women's Suffrage
In light of slavery and the issues related to it, several consequential events are often overlooked in the mid- to late-1800s: the Homestead Act, completion of the the transcontinental railroad and the push for women's suffrage.
10. The Indian Wars: Struggle Between Native Americans and Settlers
As America expanded into the West, whites often encroached on Indian land and resources. Many Native Americans defended their territory, leading to a series of conflicts known as the Indian Wars.
11. The End of Reconstruction and the Election of 1876
Since the end of the Civil War in 1865, Republicans had tried to Reconstruct the South and secure equal rights for African American men. But a series of factors convened to bring Reconstruction to an end in 1877.
12. Reconstruction Period: Goals, Success and Failures
Reconstruction of the South following the American Civil War lasted from 1865-1877 under three presidents. It wasn't welcomed by Southerners, and there were many problems throughout this process. But, was it successful?
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Other chapters within the History 103: US History I course
- First Contacts (28,000 BCE-1821 CE)
- Settling North America (1497-1732)
- The Road to Revolution (1700-1774)
- The American Revolution (1775-1783)
- The Making of a New Nation (1776-1800)
- The Virginia Dynasty (1801-1825)
- Jacksonian Democracy (1825 -- 1850)
- Life in Antebellum America (1807-1861)
- Manifest Destiny (1806-1855)
- Sectional Crisis (1850-1861)
- American Civil War (1861-1865)
- Studying for History 103