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Reconstruction Era 1865 - 1877
In the history of the United States, the term Reconstruction Era has two senses: the first covers the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the Civil War; the second sense focuses on the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, as directed by Congress, with the reconstruction of state and society.
From 1863 to 1865, Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson took moderate positions designed to bring the South back to normal as quickly as possible, while the Radical Republicans (as they called themselves) used Congress to block any moderate approaches, impose harsh terms, and upgrade the rights of the freedmen (former slaves). Johnson followed a lenient policy toward ex-Confederates much like Lincoln's. Lincoln's last speeches show that he was leaning toward supporting the enfranchisement of some freedmen, whereas Johnson was opposed to this. more