The previous post is correct in that there might have been specific points that your instructor would want you to obtain. This should be the first reference point. In the overall understanding about Reconstruction, the fundamental premise is what form post- Slavery society was to have taken after the Civil War. Part of this was to have a closer and shared identity between North and South, as opposed to the schism which led to the Civil War. In addition, the role of states' rights still presented itself, as Southern States were allowed to exercise their own autonomy in enforcing Jim Crow Laws to continue a segregated society. While this was not a goal of Reconstruction, ensuring "malice towards none" did permit a sense of tolerance about ensuring legal equality for people of color and not mandating the social form of equality. Certainly, this would not disparage the legal equality status achieved for people of color in specific relations to Amendments 13, 14, and 15 in the Constitution.
My guess is that your teacher/text will have specific goals in mind so please be sure to check on that. What I want my students to get from this is:
- For blacks to have equal citizenship rights with whites
- For blacks' economic situation to improve
- For blacks' social situation to improve
- For the South to be reintegrated into the national political structure
Please note that not everyone wanted all of these goals or wanted them to the same extent.
- They had the right to vote, etc at the end of Reconstruction but would soon lose it.
- Not really going very well -- most blacks were sharecropping, this wasn't a very good life.
- Somewhat better -- family structure healing after slavery, black churches especially becoming a center of society
- Complete success -- the South is back in the union as if it never left (except that they'll never vote Republican until the 1970s)