|Unidentified African American soldier in Union uniform with wife and two daughters, Library of Congress|
First, familiarize yourself with the "Reconstruction Amendments"- amendments 13, 14, and 15. Look here for more detailed information about the introduction and ratification of the amendments. Finally, read Eric Foner's short essay on the controversies relating to the amendments.
Some historians consider the period of Reconstruction a failure for not providing equal rights to all citizens. In fact, Foner's landmark book on the subject is called Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution. Considering the documents you just read and the material discussed in class, do you think that the Reconstruction period brought about significant change to both the former Confederate States as well as the nation as a whole? Why or why not? Be sure to provide specific examples to support your position.
ETA: I understand that there is a problem with the link to the Foner essay above. The essay is accessible through Google, but not by link, so please search "eric foner reconstruction essay gilder lehrman." The first result should be the above essay, at www.gilderlehrman.org, titled "The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History."