Reconstruction

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The American Civil War (1861–5) brought freedom to four million slaves. Reconstruction was the attempt to politically, socially and economically rebuild and reform the South. By the early 1870s, biracial democratically elected governments were functioning throughout the South. Citizenship and suffrage had been granted to African-Americans under the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870), allowing a significant number of African-American men to serve in local, state and national government. From the beginning, Reconstruction was firmly resisted by many white southerners, who embraced paramilitary violence. In 1867 the Ku Klux Klan began its campaign of terrorism. The federal government eventually forced the Klan to disband by 1872; they were replaced, however, by clubs and organisations such as the White League and Red Shirts in Mississippi, who publicly continued to threaten and suppress black voters.

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