In what respects did Reconstruction mean different things to different people? When did Reconstruction end?

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I will answer the second part of your question first. Reconstruction came to an end on March 31, 1877. That was the date that federal troops ended their mission of occupying Southern states in order to force them to comply with the Reconstruction laws and amendments to protect the black population's civil rights. This was the result of the Compromise of 1877, which also resulted in the inauguration of President Rutheford B. Hayes.

To the black population of the South, Reconstruction was the promise of their full freedom. It was an attempt to integrate them into a society and landscape that had kept them and their ancestors in bondage. To most of them, it started out as a period of hope. It brought education and political enfranchisement to them. However, it still fell short of its initial promises of land and property rights. When Reconstruction came to an end, it was seen by many Southern black citizens as an abandonment and betrayal by the federal government.

To many Southern white citizens, Reconstruction was a humiliation. The further occupation of their lands by a conquering army served to remind them regularly of their defeat. Long-rooted systemic racism meant that attempts by the government to empower the freed slaves were viewed as an insult to their values and ways of life. Many resisted Reconstruction's efforts by terrorizing and oppressing the black population and snubbing the attempts of government officials to implement the laws.

For Northerners, feelings about Reconstruction varied. At first, many felt that Reconstruction could transform the former Confederacy so that it would become a whole new society free from its former slave-holding and rebellious ways. As time went by, many Northerners were losing interest in the goals of Reconstruction. Many of its efforts were proving ineffective and expensive in the face of Southern resistance. Therefore, many hardly paid any attention when Reconstruction came to an end in 1877.

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