Mother Emanuel Massacre (03:50)
White supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine black people at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina on June, 17, 2015. The roots of white terror against African Americans can be traced back to Reconstruction.
Civil War Ends (06:37)
The Confederacy surrendered on April 9, 1865. Abraham Lincoln spoke of Reconstruction at the White House two days later, suggesting that freed blacks be allowed to vote. This angered John Wilkes Booth, who murdered the president on April 14, 1865.
Looking for Loved Ones (02:37)
The early days of freedom were a bewildering mixture of exhilaration and apprehension. Newly freed slaves placed ads in newspapers and wandered the countryside in an attempt to reconnect with lost family members.
Southern Democrat in Charge (02:55)
The 13th Amendment passed Congress in January 1865, but it had not been ratified by the states. Andrew Johnson was sworn in just hours after Lincoln’s death. He had grown up a poor, white southerner and was hostile to the interests of freed blacks.
Freedmen's Bureau (03:50)
Major General Oliver Howard headed the new Bureau of Refugees, Freedman and Abandoned Lands. In that role, he was given one of the most daunting assignments in American history: overseeing the entire transition of southern society, from slavery to freedom. Johnson undermined those plans.
Shocking Betrayal (03:13)
In September 1865, Johnson ordered Howard to return land to the confederates he had pardoned. Howard was forced to renege on his promise of 40 acres and a mule, and many freed blacks were forced into labor contracts with their former owners.
Revisionist History (04:27)
Confederate sympathizer Edward Pollard published “The Lost Cause,” which characterized the South as a civilized society that had defended itself against northern aggression in 1866. The myth resonated with defeated southern whites, unifying them in resentment of the North.
Black Codes (04:14)
Legislators in Mississippi passed a set of oppressive laws that applied only to blacks in 1866, and other southern states followed. Blacks who did not sign labor contracts with white employers were forced into indentured servitude. The Ku Klux Klan was born in Tennessee.
Birthright Citizenship (05:01)
Johnson declared that southern states had met his terms, paving the way for them to return to Congress. Thaddeus Stevens and other congressional Republicans were outraged at plans to elect Confederate leaders to office. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 over Johnson’s veto.
Memphis Riots of 1866 (06:29)
Racial tension grew in Memphis with the presence of a black regiment and Irish police force. White mobs hunted down black people, shooting and raping them; every black church and black school was burned down. The testimony of survivors helped convince Congress the rights of black should be written into the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted.
Black Suffrage (07:11)
Republicans controlled Congress in 1867, with most of Confederate states still absent. The South was divided into five military districts. The southern states had to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and allow black men to vote before being readmitted to the Union.
Historic Election Day (04:30)
The Democratic presidential campaign of 1868 was perhaps the most racist in history, supported by a wave of arson and murder in parts of the South. Yet half a million black men cast their votes, helping put former Union General Ulysses S. Grant into office.
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War - Episode 1 (01:01)
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War - Episode 1
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