The Civil War was one of the most intense and heart rending periods of the History of the United States. It was a period where at times people in the same family would take up arms on opposing sides, brother against brother, North against South.
For many people, the Civil War represented an effort by the Southern States to cleave off and become their own country. There were rich Slave owners that did not want to stop owning and managing slaves.
However, there were a lot of other issues, such as representation in Congress of the interests and goals of people in the South.
The time period after the Civil War was very chaotic, and it was one where many people swarmed into the defeated South. Some were official representatives of the U.S. Federal Government, and there were some of these people who were honorable, and good people.
It was the job of some of these men (because at this time Women were not normally business or political representatives) to help regain services and restart different elements of infrastructure in the South, some of which had been destroyed.
Reconstruction dealt with how different areas, and different Southern States would regain their status as part of the United States. Such things as how former slaves, now free, would be treated, how states would resume their seats in both houses of Congress, and other issues.
The time period of Reconstruction was not an easy one, and there erupted violent conflict as a result, and controversy spread across the south on these different issues.
In addition, besides the positive and moral agents of the U.S. Federal government, there were many different people who were dishonest and criminal that tried to take advantage of the defeat of the south.
These people were called “Carpetbaggers,” which was as term of derision and disrespect used by Southern people for those that tried to come in and take advantage.
Constitutional Amendments, negotiation and state and local elections worked to reestablish the South as part of the United States, but it was a time of turmoil, controversy and at times violence. Passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were part of the legacy of the period of Reconstruction, from the end of the civil war in 1865 until about 1877.
In 1877 Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was elected President of the United States, and he withdrew Federal troops from the South, in the Compromise of 1877.
Most historians believe this event signaled the effective end of the period known as Reconstruction.