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Reconstruction: 1865–1877


13th Amendment

legally abolished slavery in the United States; ratified 1865

14th Amendment

granted citizenship to the formerly enslaved African Americans by declaring that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" are citizens; ratified 1868

15th Amendment

granted African American men the right to vote; ratified 1870

Andrew Johnson

17th president of the United States (1865–69). Johnson governed the country through the beginning stages of Reconstruction.

black codes

post–Civil War state laws that replaced abolished slave codes, to ensure white supremacy and the continued availability of cheap labor in the absence of slavery


Northerner seeking to benefit financially from the devastation in the former Confederate states and to influence politics in favor of Radical Republicans

Freedmen's Bureau

government agency established primarily to assist newly freed African Americans to integrate into free American society

grandfather clause

provision that exempted anyone eligible to vote prior to 1876 or 1877 and their descendants from literacy tests and other obstacles to voting


formal accusation of misconduct against an official elected to public office

Jim Crow era

period from 1877 to the 1950s civil rights movement, during which Southern states passed laws restricting the freedom and civil rights of African Americans

Ku Klux Klan (KKK)

extremist, often violent group formed in 1866 promoting Southern white supremacy in response to Radical Reconstruction in the South

literacy test

test that required African Americans to prove they could read and write before being allowed to vote

Plessy v. Ferguson

1896 Supreme Court case that tested the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause and upheld the right of states to enact laws promoting racial segregation

poll tax

fee charged to voters as a prerequisite for voting

Radical Republican

member of the Republican Party who advocated abolition of slavery before the Civil War and extension of civil rights to African Americans following the war

Reconstruction Acts of 1867

radical plan for Reconstruction that divided the South into five military districts, assigned federal troops to oversee law and order, and compelled states to ratify the 14th Amendment


white Southerner who cooperated with the Radical Republicans and supported federal involvement in Reconstruction

separate but equal

racial policy by which African Americans could be segregated from whites if the facilities and opportunities provided to the two races were equal

Ten Percent Plan

President Johnson's plan for Reconstruction outlining terms by which Confederate states could be readmitted to the Union if 10 percent of its voting citizens took a loyalty oath

Wade-Davis Bill

congressional bill to impose strict and punishing Reconstruction policies on the defeated Confederate states; vetoed by President Lincoln

white supremacy

belief that the white race is inherently superior to all other races