How much did Reconstruction transform the South and the nation?  What were its limitations?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reconstruction had a major impact on the South as well as on the entire nation. Reconstruction was needed after the Civil War ended to rebuild the South.  The South was devastated politically, socially, and economically by the Civil War.

As a result of Reconstruction, the South was rebuilt. The South, which had mainly been known for its farming before the Civil War, began to diversify its economy after the Civil War.  Industries began to develop in the South.  This helped the economy grow. Reconstruction also worked to change the South socially and politically.  Former slaves were given voting rights, and eventually African Americans ran for office.  There was an attempt to bring more equality to the races together as a result of Reconstruction.

Reconstruction impacted the nation because it brought the country back together again. This was good for economy of the United States, not just for the southern economy.  It also was good to have the country united instead of divided. It additionally raised the question of equality and rights for African Americans.  It brought awareness to people of the inequalities that had existed before the Civil War.  It attempted to level the playing field, especially in the South.

There were limits to Reconstruction.  Since some of the changes in South (especially political and social ones) required a change of attitude, the question of what would happen when the military left the South was a very valid one.  Many white southerners were waiting for the military to leave so they could return the old ways of life to the South.  After Reconstruction ended, many of the improvements that were made for African Americans were reduced, restricted, or eliminated. This was especially true for political and social improvements.  Even economically, African Americans struggled.

Reconstructed impacted the country, but it also had limitations.