top of page

Reconstruction (1865-1877)


Students analyze the character and lasting consequences of Reconstruction.


Colton's Railroad Military Map
Colton's Railroad Military Map

A vital image of Colton's rail-road and military map of the United States, Mexico, the West Indies, &c. It was taken in 1862. Map of North America showing rivers, international and state borders, cities, military installations, railroads in operation, and proposed lines.Includes census information for 1860.

press to zoom
Capitol Grounds 1874
Capitol Grounds 1874

A general plan for the extension of the U.S. Capitol grounds / John Fraser, architect. It was made in 1874. Oriented with north to the left. Scale not given. United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.).

press to zoom
Arizona and New Mexico
Arizona and New Mexico

A majestic Map of Arizona and New Mexico. It was created in 1867. Arizona. Scale [ca. 1:3,168,000].

press to zoom
Colton's Railroad Military Map
Colton's Railroad Military Map

A vital image of Colton's rail-road and military map of the United States, Mexico, the West Indies, &c. It was taken in 1862. Map of North America showing rivers, international and state borders, cities, military installations, railroads in operation, and proposed lines.Includes census information for 1860.

press to zoom



  • Did the Reconstruction governments rule the South well?

  • Can political freedom exist without an economic foundation?

  • When should a president be impeached and removed from office?

  • Does racial equality depend upon government action?

  • Should African Americans have more strongly resisted the government’s decision to abandon the drive for equality? (Booker T. Washington’s “accommodation” v. W.E.B. Du Bois’s “agitation” approaches)

  • How did the Civil War lead to the reform of the American political system as a more democratic government and one more consistent with the original ideals? 



"There is in the South stronger feeling among the intelligent, well-to-do, and influential element in favor of the industrial educa tion of the Negro and the encouragement of the race to make themselves useful members of the community.... We are charged with the sacred duty of making their path as smooth and easy as we can.... Personally, I've not the slightest race prejudice or feeling, and recognition of its existence only awakens in my heart a deeper sympathy for those who have to bear it or suffer from it." ~ William Howard Taft, On the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution



  • Students will understand and explain the political impact of the war and its aftermath in Reconstruction. 


  • 13th Amendment:  Amendment to the US Constitution that abolished slavery.

  • 14th Amendment:  making anyone born in the US a US citizen.

  • 15th Amendment:  Amendment to the US Constitution that guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens regardless of race.

  • Impeach:  To bring formal charges against.

  • Poll Tax:  A fee required in many southern states in order to vote.

  • Literacy Test:  A test of reading and writing skills required in many southern states in order to vote.

  • Property Requirement:  A law passed in many southern states requiring the ownership of property in order to vote.

  • Black Codes:  Laws passed in many southern states aimed at limiting the rights of African Americans (Freedmen).

  • Jim Crow Laws:  Laws passed in many southern states that limited the rights of African Americans (Freedmen).

  • Ku Klux Klan:  A white supremicist organization that terrorized Freedmen, particularly in the south, after the Civil War.

  • Freedmen's Bureau:  A government organization aimed at helping Freedmen with the transition to citizenship in the US.

  • Sharecropping:  An agricultural system where land is rented to farm on and repayment takes the form of a share of crops produced by the land instead of cash.

  • Carpetbaggers:  Northerners who traveled to the south during Reconstruction to make money off of Reconstruction efforts.

  • Reconstruction:  Period of rebuilding in the South after the Civil War

  • Radical:  A person with extreme political or religious views

  • Tariff:  Tax on imported goods

  • Ten Percent Plan:  Lincoln's plan for Reconstructing requiring an oath of loyalty from 10% of former confederate state populations

  • Freedman's Bureau:  Organization set up by Radical Republicans to help African Americans after the Civil War

  • Veto:  To reject a bill or proposed legislation

  • Bias:  A point of view that prevents unprejudiced thought

  • Amnesty:  Official policy of friendship that pardoned Confederate leaders

  • Treason:  Violation of allegiance to one's government

  • Impeach:  To bring formal charges against

  • Debt:  Money owed from one person or group to another

  • Conspiracy:  An unlawful plan formulated in secret











There are two basic areas of topics in regards to The Reconstruction Era. One covers a period from 1865-1877 and is as broad as the U.S. History in its entirety and the other sticks mainly to the Southern states and dates from 1863-1877. This was the reconstruction of both society and state directed by Washington.


Both President Lincoln and Johnson (1865 forward) took a position that was more moderate to bring the South back into the Union with little trouble. However, the Radical Republicans had another view and wanted the Freedmen to have as many rights as quickly as possible and wanted harsh punishments doled out. When Ulysses S. Grant stepped into office he also pushed for a more radical movement.  Read more....


The Reconstruction Amendments:  The 13th, 14th, and 15th...

8.82 Explain the significance of 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


Reconstruction and 1876:  Crash Course...

8.83 Analyze the choice of Andrew Johnson as Vice-President, his succession to the Presidency, his plan for Reconstruction and his conflict with the Radical Republicans.




The History of Jim Crow Laws...

Reconstruction Period:  Goals, Successess and Failures...

8.84 Compare the 10 Percent Plan to the Radical Republican Plan for Reconstruction.


Ku Klux Klan, 1871...

A recorded movie on the history of Jim Crow Laws a team of college students put together in Fall of 2011. Feel free to use for classroom or educational use. All material has been verified.

8.86 Trace the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice, including its role in Tennessee.


8.87 Explain the movement of both white and black Northern entrepreneurs (carpetbaggers) from the North to the South.



The Andrew Johnson Impeachment Explained:  US History Review...

8.88 Explain the controversy of the 1876 presidential election and the subsequent removal of federal troops from the South.





Exodusters and Pap Singleton...
8.89 Describe the push-pull effect in the movement of former slaves to the North and West, including the Exodusters and Pap Singleton.



Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878...

An excerpt from the documentary "City of Good Samaritans: Memphis Medicine, 1819-1962". In 1878 a Yellow Fever epidemic struck Memphis resulting in over 5,000 deaths.

8.90 Describe the major developments in Tennessee during the Reconstruction Era, including the Constitutional Convention of 1870, the yellow fever epidemic of 1878 and the election of African-Americans to the General Assembly.





Proper etiquette, or good manners, refers to the socially acceptable way in which a person conducts himself or herself when in the presence of others. These rules of public behavior have probably been a part of the social fabric since humans organized themselves into a hierarchal regimen of social standing




Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans from the Cook Collection is a digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, selected from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The digitally scanned images on this site are of prints from glass plate negatives or film negatives taken by George S. Cook (1819-1902) and Huestes P. Cook (1868-1951), primarily in the Richmond and Central Virginia area. The Cook Collection consists of over 10,000 negatives taken from the 1860s to the 1930s in Virginia and the Carolinas.  




The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 freed African Americans in rebel states, and after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all U.S. slaves wherever they were. As a result, the mass of Southern blacks now faced the difficulty Northern blacks had confronted--that of a free people surrounded by many hostile whites. One freedman, Houston Hartsfield Holloway, wrote, "For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them."



America's Reconstruction covering the People and Politics after the Civil War.

Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution


bottom of page