Reconstruction of the United States

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The Reconstruction was after the American Civil War. It was the remaking of the Southern United States, after it had lost its war of rebellion and slavery was ended. The southern states were occupied territory. Andrew Johnson became President of the U.S. after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He wanted to make it easy to restore local rule in the previously rebellious states, and he permitted some of them to hold elections in 1865. Former Confederate leaders who ran as Democrats were elected to Congress, and states passed laws that denied rights to former slaves.

Many members of the Republican Party wanted stricter terms before local rule was returned to the South. After the Republicans won a large majority of Congressional seats in the 1866 elections, they refused to let former Confederate leaders take seats in the Congress. The Republicans then passed laws that former leaders of the rebellion were not allowed to hold office and were not allowed to vote. Three new amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ended slavery, made former slaves citizens, and gave them the right to vote. Some newly freed black slaves won elected offices.

Many white people resisted having former slaves having equal rights and being able to vote. The Ku Klux Klan was formed to force black people out of political and economic power. After Reconstruction ended in 1877, white people in the South used their regained political powers to pass Jim Crow Laws. These laws enforced segregation (keeping blacks and whites separate) and took the vote away from black people whose parents or grandparents were slaves. After Reconstruction, white Southerners voted mostly against the Republican Party for about 80 years.