The era in United States history known as Reconstruction forms a sort of coda to the traumatic years of the American Civil War of 1861-1865. It also the ugly duckling of American history.
The 12 years that are the conventional designation of the Reconstruction period, from 1865 to 1877, teem with associations and developments which seem regrettable, if not simply baleful. First, it left a long legacy of bitterness, especially among Southerners who believed that they had fought an honorable war and were handed a dishonorable peace, as well as Southerners who refused to accept defeat and manufactured the myth of a glorious “Lost Cause” to justify themselves.
Second, the era aspired to be a capitalist revolution, expected to triumph as effortlessly as the capitalist notions of progress had promised. Unhappily, it also coincided with an eruption of unprecedented levels of graft, corruption and fraud in American civil governments, not the least in the ones erected by federal force in the former rebel states, so that the pouring of Northern capital into post-war Southern development became tainted as “carpetbagger” graft.
But Reconstruction is probably best-known, and least-liked, as the bobbling away of the greatest opportunity Americans ever had to erase
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(The opinions in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Southern Nation News or SN.O.)