Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Series 1 - Episode 1



How do you re-create a nation after a brutal civil war has torn it apart? President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated only five days after Confederate general Robert E Lee surrendered, so it fell to his successor, Andrew Johnson, to consider how to now incorporate four million freed slaves into the body politic of the United States. But this was to be no easy matter, and the repercussions can still be felt today. As one African American academic puts it, “Black folk had no idea of the cliff they were heading towards.”

It’s a sobering story, well presented by Henry Louis Gates Jr. There were early achievements, such as the hard-fought passing of the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to all born in the US. But the backlash was fierce, not helped by Johnson’s own conflicted loyalties.


Exploring the transformative years following the conflict, with millions of African-Americans seeking out their rightful place as equal citizens under the law.