While Reconstruction was a period that saw dramatic changes in policy-making, it is generally regarded as a failure by historians. While the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments abolished slavery and clearly defined citizenship rights for all Americans, its scope gradually diminished to the point that blacks' legal status in the South was virtually the same as it was in the antebellum period (if not worse).
Why does Reconstruction seem so promising at first, only to fail a decade later? What were the forces both driving Reconstruction policies as well as resisting them? In your opinion, did any of the Reconstruction policies have a hidden agenda? If so, what was it?