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OPINIONBy Eric FonerMarch 28, 2015THE surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, 150 years agonext month, effectively ended the Civil War. Preoccupied with the challenges of our own time,Americans will probably devote little attention to the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, theturbulent era that followed the conflict. This is unfortunate, for if any historical period deservesthe label “relevant,” it is Reconstruction.Issues that agitate American politics today — access to citizenship and voting rights, therelative powers of the national and state governments, the relationship between political andeconomic democracy, the proper response to terrorism — all of these are Reconstructionquestions. But that era has long been misunderstood.Reconstruction refers to the period, generally dated from 1865 to 1877, during which thenation’s laws and Constitution were rewritten to guarantee the basic rights of the former