You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

The Reconstruction Era, 1865-77

3. The Reality of Reconstruction

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the support offered by the federal government to newly-freed slaves in the years following the end of the Civil War, focusing in particular on: (i) the impact of emancipation on the economy of the south, which had relied on slave labour for centuries; (ii) the extent to which support for former slaves was managed by the military, especially the American Freedman's Enquiry Commission (set up in March 1863) and the Freedmen's Bureau (set up in March 1865); (iii) the key aims of the Freedmen's Bureau, especially the attempt to help former slaves find family members from whom they had become separated during the war; (iv) the various experiments for how to provide former slaves with a living after the war, e.g. the Port Royal Experiment; (v) the difficulties faced by the Freedmen's Bureau as a result of the hostility of President Andrew Johnson; (vi) the importance of education in the integration of former slaves into the American citizenry; (vii) the establishment of separate black churches, which would form a critically important aspect of the civil rights movement a century later; and (viii) the extent to which African-Americans simply wanted to be left alone, cf. Frederick Douglass, 'What the Black Man Wants'.


In this course, Professor Susan-Mary Grant (Newcastle University) explores the period in American history known as the Reconstruction Era, 1865-77. In the first module, we provide a brief introduction to what the Reconstruction Era was, when it started and ended, and whether or not it was a success. In the second module, we think about the roots of Reconstruction in Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, before turning in the third module to consider the support offered by the federal government to African-Americans in the years following the end of the Civil War. After that, in the fourth and fifth modules, we think about the resistance to the use efforts in the southern states, including the use of racial violence, before turning in the sixth and final module to think about the end of Reconstruction following the contested election of 1876 and the long-term legacy of its failure in the United States.


Professor Susan-Mary Grant is Professor of American History at Newcastle University. She is the author of North Over South: Northern Nationalism and American Identity in the Antebellum Era (2000), The War for a Nation: The American Civil War (2006) and editor of Legacy of Disunion: The Enduring Significance of the American Civil War (2003) and Themes of the American Civil War: The War Between the States (2010).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Grant, S. (2021, March 17). The Reconstruction Era, 1865-77 - The Reality of Reconstruction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Grant, S. "The Reconstruction Era, 1865-77 – The Reality of Reconstruction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 17 Mar 2021,

Get instant access to over 7,200 lectures