No period of United States history is more important and still less understood than Reconstruction. Now, at the sesquicentennial of the Reconstruction era, Vernon Burton and Brent Morris bring together the best new scholarship on the critical years after the Civil War and before the onset of Jim Crow, synthesizing social, political, economic, and cultural approaches to understanding this crucial period.

Reconstruction was the most progressive period in United States history. Although marred by frequent violence and tragedy, it was a revolutionary era that offered hope, opportunity, and against all odds, a new birth of freedom for all Americans. Even though many of the gains of Reconstruction were rolled back and replaced with a repressive social and legal regime for African Americans, the radical spark was never fully extinguished. Its spirit fanned back into flame with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and its ramifications remain palpable to this day.

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