After the civil war, all slaves in the south were freed and moderate reconstruction was attempted by the national government to help the freedmen integrate into citizenship. However, because of the strong resistance in the south, large scale reconstruction ultimately failed.
The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments legally granted freedmen full rights of citizenship, but there was a great deal of blackmail and threatening at the polls and in the courts of the south.
Under the administration of President Andrew Johnson in 1865 and 1866, new southern state legislatures passed restrictive “black codes” to control the labor and behavior of former slaves and other African Americans.
The Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations targeted local Republican leaders, white and black, and other African Americans who challenged white authority. Though federal legislation passed during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant in 1871 took aim at the Klan and others who attempted to interfere with black suffrage and other political rights, white supremacy gradually reasserted its hold on the South after the early 1870s as support for Reconstruction waned.
Withdrawal of union troops in 1877 brought renewed attempts to strip African-Americans of their newly acquired rights.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." -Lincoln's second inaugural address
"It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service." (Order of Retaliation, July 30, 1863)