What has been Reconstruction's most enduring legacy on American life?
I believe Reconstruction’s most enduring legacy on American life is that it is very hard to force change on people who don’t want change to occur. Reconstruction tried to change the social order and southern way of life. There were laws passed and policies created to give former slaves more rights and equality. Amendments were made to the Constitution, the Freedmen’s Bureau was established, and black people got involved in politics. All of these things were done to try to bring a new social order and equality to the South.
Once Reconstruction ended with the Compromise of 1877, many of the improvements and gains were reversed or ended. The South found ways to keep black people from voting while allowing whites to vote. The poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses are examples of this. Laws were passed to separate the races and deny equal opportunities and access to facilities for black people. This occurred because much of the South was unwilling to change their attitudes and policies toward black people. This, in my opinion, was the lasting legacy of Reconstruction.