Reconstruction Era: What Happened After The Civil War That We Didn't Learn In School?

By Karen Harris
Dressed in period clothing, Viola Stoops of Woodville, Texas walks past Civil War reenactors gathered in Gettysburg to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the famous three-day battle. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The years following the American Civil War, from 1865 to 1877, is a period known as the Reconstruction Era, but the name is a bit misleading. It sounds like a time when battle-decimated infrastructure was rebuilt, plans for the future were hammered out, and political and social relationships were mended, but the reality was that freed slaves faced a new set of obstacles, violence was widespread, and citizens were divided.