The Reconstruction era was the period in American history which lasted from 1863 to 1877. It was a significant chapter in the history of American civil rights.
The term has two applications: the first applies to the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the American Civil War; the second, to the attempted transformation of the 11 former Confederate states from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress, and the role of the Union states in that transformation. Reconstruction ended the remnants of Confederate secession and abolished slavery, making the newly freed slaves citizens with civil rights ostensibly guaranteed by three new constitutional amendments.1
Its promising name belies what turned out to be the greatest missed opportunity in American history. Where did we go wrong? And who was responsible? Renowned American history professor Allen Guelzo has the surprising answers in this eye-opening video.