by Edward L. Ayers

In the twelve years after the Civil War—the era of Reconstruction—there were massive changes in American culture, economy, and politics. These were the years of the “Old West,” of cowboys, Indians, and buffalo hunts, of cattle drives, railroads, and ranches. It was also the beginning of the “Gilded Age” in the North, the age of big fortunes, enormous businesses, struggle over labor unions, and the burgeoning of cities filled with immigrants, all of it given an air of desperation by the largest economic depression in United States history beginning in 1873. More »

Essays

View All

Featured Primary Sources

Letter from John S. Mosby to Sam Chapman, June 4, 1907. (GLC03921.21p1)

A former Confederate officer on slavery and the Civil War, 1907

Creator: John S. Mosby Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Ku Klux Klan to Davie Jeems, ca. 1868 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Ku Klux Klan threat, 1868

Creator: Ku Klux Klan Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Charles Sumner, ca. 1861–1865 (GLC05111.02.0999)

Charles Sumner on Reconstruction and the South, 1866

Creator: Charles Sumner Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
View All

Teaching Resources

Agriculture in America

Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12

Birth of a Nation

Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography, Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Lincoln’s Reconstruction Plan

Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
View All

Multimedia

Frederick Douglass on Lincoln and Reconstruction

Speaker(s): Matthew Pinsker Duration: 1 minute 43 seconds

Reconstruction and Citizenship

Speaker(s): Eric Foner Duration: 54 minutes 47 seconds

Reconstruction and Its Legacy

Speaker(s): Eric Foner Duration: 4 minutes 41 seconds
View All