Reconstruction is the name given to the time period after the Civil War from 1865 to 1877. Reconstruction means to rebuild something after it has been destroyed. That is basically what was going on in the South and with our country. During the Civil War much of the South had been badly damaged. Many of the roads, bridges, train tracks and even homes had been destroyed during the war. More importantly our country was under reconstruction as well. The Civil War had split our country in two, now after four long years of fighting it was time to bring our country and its citizens back together.
The question was how exactly do you put a country back together. Many people in the North wanted
to punish the South and many people in the South wanted to keep fighting and did not want to become part of the United States again. President Abraham Lincoln had a plan for reconstruction that called for reconciliation with the South. Lincoln believed that preserving the union was much more important than punishing the South. Unfortunately President Lincoln would not live to lead our country through the
difficult process of reconstruction. After Lincoln’s assassination the lawmakers in Washington DC decided on the policies and conditions that would rebuild the country. Unfortunately, many of these policies were harsh and created some problems in the South.
Reconstruction attempted to give meaning to the freedom that former enslaved African Americans had achieved. One way this was accomplished was allowing freed slaves the vote and the ability to hold public office. At the same time, Southern Military leaders, like General Robert E. Lee were not allowed to do either. The establishment of The Freedman’s Bureau was also designed to help the freed slaves.