The act or process of reorganizing the governments of the States which had passed ordinances of secession, and of reëstablishing their constitutional relations to the national government, after the close of the Civil War.
Reconstruction began with the end of the Civil War in 1865, and its goal was literally to rebuild the South. Homes, schools, hospitals, and farms had been destroyed by battle, neglect, and Sherman's March. Government was in shambles. Families were torn apart and fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers were dead. Almost every aspect of society, as both white and black Southerners had known it, revolved around an economic system that no longer existed. Both groups were forced to find new methods of survival. – More about the Reconstruction and the particular challenges African-Americans faced with the coming of freedom
Period immediately following the Civil War during which the federal government attempted to force the former Confederate states to govern themselves according to the laws and customs of the rest of the United States. During this time (also known as the period of "Radical Reconstruction"), federal troops helped enforce universal male suffrage, and former leaders of the Confederate Army were barred from serving in public office. For the first time, African Americans were elected to serve as legislators and governors in southern states. Despite the fact that no state was ever controlled by a majority of African Americans, white southerners bitterly resented being forced to treat African Americans as equals, and by 1876 the period of Radical Reconstruction had effectively ended.