Describe the major challenges the federal government faced in reconstructing the South after the Civil War during the period from 1865 to 1877.
The most significant challenges the federal government faced involved dealing with the massive population of freed African Americans after the war. There was never total agreement even in the North over a host of serious issues, including the extent of political rights for black men, the possibility of land reform for freedmen, and the role of the federal government in providing services (education, for example) for African Americans. The federal government sought to address these issues in several ways, including the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments that clarified, at least on paper, the legal and political status of African Americans. Complicating these issues throughout Reconstruction was the fact that many southern whites fiercely, often violently, resisted political and social equality for African Americans. The Ku Klux Klan and many other organizations waged campaigns of terror to maintain white supremacy in the South. While the federal government responded by establishing military districts in the former Confederacy and passed legislation targeting these groups, white elites eventually regained control of state governments, usually with the support of poor whites, and often by violence and voter fraud. Reconstruction ended by collapsing under the weight of these challenges, with one state after another falling into the hands of so-called "Redeemer" governments.