What were the major components of Reconstruction in the southern states after the Civil War?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Depending on how you define “major components,” you could say that there were three major components to Reconstruction. 

First, there was the component of military government.  At the beginning of Radical Reconstruction, the Southern states were run by the military.  These states did not have democratic government during this time.

Second, there were the Reconstruction governments.  These were what the states had after they had the military governments.  As the Southern states complied with Northern demands, they were allowed to have democratic governments once again.  These governments were elected by all the citizens of the states, African Americans included.  These were the governments that included the “carpetbaggers” and the “scalawags.”   They lasted until the states were “redeemed” by white supremacist governments that were often dominated by people who had been Confederate leaders.

The third component was made up of the amendments to the Constitution and laws that states were forced to accept in order to get democratic government back.  The states had to ratify the 14th Amendment giving blacks equal rights.  They had to write state constitutions that guaranteed black male suffrage.  These requirements were meant to be part of Reconstruction as they were meant to completely reform the political and racial systems in the South.