The Reconstruction era, 1865-1877, that followed the end of the American Civil War was the best of limes and the worst of times for African Americans.

It was the best of times because the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1865 confirmed the emancipation from slavery of four million blacks in the American South. In a dramatic period of change this achievement of freedom was only a beginning. The 1866 Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, ratified in 1869 and 1870, respectively, went further and promised ex-slaves equal citizenship and voting rights.