THEMATIC FOCUS Politics and Power (PCE)
Debates fostered by social and political groups about the role of government in American social, political, and economic life shape government policy, institutions, political parties, and the rights of citizens.
Unit 5: Learning Objective K
Explain the effects of government policy during Reconstruction on society from 1865 to 1877.
Reconstruction altered relationships between the states and the federal government and led to debates over new definitions of citizenship, particularly regarding the rights of African Americans, women, and other minorities.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, while the 14th and 15th amendments granted African Americans citizenship, equal protection under the laws, and voting rights.
The women’s rights movement was both emboldened and divided over the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution.
Efforts by radical and moderate Republicans to change the balance of power between Congress and the presidency and to reorder race relations in the defeated South yielded some short-term successes. Reconstruction opened up political opportunities and other leadership roles to former slaves, but it ultimately failed, due both to determined Southern resistance and the North’s waning resolve.