Assess the successes and failures of Reconstruction.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that one undeniable success of Reconstruction would be the passage of the Civil War Amendments.  The embedding  of the abolition of slavery, the assurance of voting rights, and the extension of equal protection into the Constitution helped to move people of color as part of the American political landscape.  At the same time, I would say that the idea of the nation moving as one unit towards an end where people of color, specifically African-Americans, would be seen as part of its composition could also be considered a success.  One of the overwhelming failures would be the lack of transitional help consistently and thoroughly offered to African-Americans to see themselves as a part of the American vision.  It is nearly impossible to envision what slavery was like for African-Americans and to live in its shadow requires a greater level of empathy than what was present at the time.  Additionally, the lack of a national focus on the elements of Reconstruction continued to add to the fragmented nature of the country, something with which Lincoln's death did not help.