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Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (1865-1877)

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Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (1865-1877). 1. 2. 3. 4. Lincoln Assassinated!!!. 3 days after the end of the war…now what? Who will carry out his plan? What effect will this have on the Nation?

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lincoln assassinated
Lincoln Assassinated!!!
  • 3 days after the end of the war…now what?
  • Who will carry out his plan?
  • What effect will this have on the Nation?
  • Remember…on December 8, 1863, Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, offering pardons to Confederates who take a loyalty oath.
  • How will the “Reconstruction” phase be constructed now?
reconstruction america s unfinished revolution 1865 1877
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1865-1877

Essential Question: How was the nation’s commitment to itsfounding ideals tested during Reconstruction?

Visual Discovery Activity: Students gather facts to help them interpret seven political cartoons to understand the issues and events of the Reconstruction period to further enhance that knowledge.

Standard 4.05: Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of Reconstruction on the state and identify the reasons why Reconstruction came to an end.


The Reconstruction period from 1865 to 1877 continued the hostilities between the North and South. President Andrew Johnson, who became President after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and others wanted to “reconcile their differences” and reunite the Union. However, Radical Republicans in Congress wanted to punish the South for seceding from the Union. These two factions argued over Reconstruction policies and created further problems between the North and South. Racism in the South also prevented the newly freed slaves from achieving equality in the political, economic, and social arenas of American life.

reconstruction facts
Reconstruction Facts
  • Reconstruction policies were harsh and created problems in the South.
  • Reconstruction attempted to give meaning to the freedom that former slaves had achieved.
  • The Reconstruction phase lasted 12 years, from 1865-1877.
    • See timeline (next slide)
class activity
Class Activity
  • Political cartoons are important in conveying various political ideas and perspectives of a specific historical time period.
  • With this in mind, you will interpret seven political cartoons to help understand the issues and events of the Reconstruction period.
  • Please write answers to the following questions for each image:

1. What does each image represent?

2. What symbols are used?

3. What messages/issues convey the overall perception of Reconstruction?

post viewing discussion
Post-Viewing Discussion

1. What do these political cartoons represent?

2. What reoccurring “theme” did you notice?

3. Do these political cartoons convey the overall perception of Reconstruction as positive or negative? Explain.


After four bloody years of civil war, North and South would continue to fight over the meaning of freedom, the meaning of citizenship, and the survival of the nation itself. Reconstruction brings to life this turbulent and complex period and shows how, in just a few years, a series of stunning events -- the Emancipation Proclamation, the Fourteenth Amendment granting ex-slaves citizenship in 1868, the enfranchisement of blacks the following year -- reversed centuries-old patterns of race relations in America. People who for generations had been the property of others were now free to run their own lives.

The whole Southern world was turned upside down. And yet, despite these challenges and terrible racial violence in this period, so much was accomplished. Reconstruction brought public schools to the South for the first time. Black Southerners were elected to local and national offices. And the nation committed itself to equality under the law for all Americans, regardless of race, by passing the Fourteenth Amendment. Reconstruction laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the foundation for the American society we live in today.