What Was the Reconstruction Era in American History?

The Reconstruction Era in American history refers to the period after the Civil War when the United States government attempted to rebuild and reform the South. This period lasted from 1865 to 1877 and was marked by significant political, social, and economic changes.


The Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, resulted in the defeat of the Confederate States of America and the end of slavery. However, it also left much of the South in ruins, with many cities and towns destroyed and the economy in shambles.

Goals of Reconstruction

The primary goal of Reconstruction was to reunite the country and rebuild the South. Additionally, there were three main goals:

  • To rebuild Southern infrastructure that had been destroyed during the war
  • To ensure that African Americans were granted full citizenship rights and protections under the law
  • To integrate former slaves into Southern society through education and job training programs

Reconstruction Amendments

During this era, three amendments were added to the U.S. Constitution:

  • The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery throughout all states in America.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) granted citizenship rights to all persons born or naturalized in the United States.
  • The Fifteenth Amendment (1870) prohibited denying citizens their right to vote based on their race or color.

Challenges Faced During Reconstruction

Despite these efforts towards rebuilding and reforming, there were several challenges faced during Reconstruction. The first major challenge was resistance from Southerners who did not want African Americans to have equal rights. This resistance led to violence against African Americans by groups like Ku Klux Klan.

Another challenge was the lack of support from the federal government. President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865, was opposed to many aspects of Reconstruction and vetoed several key pieces of legislation that would have helped African Americans.

End of Reconstruction

The Reconstruction era officially ended in 1877 when federal troops were removed from the South. This led to the rise of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans.


The Reconstruction Era was a critical period in American history that attempted to rebuild and reform the South after the Civil War. While significant progress was made towards granting African Americans equal rights, there were also many challenges faced during this time. Despite its shortcomings, the Reconstruction Era laid the foundation for future civil rights movements and set a precedent for social change in America.