After the Civil War the United States government was forced to make changes in order to successfully embrace the South and reunite the Union. This interval of change was called the period of Reconstruction. President Lincoln, the incumbent directly after the Civil War, set plans for Reconstruction that were designed in hopes of "saving the union." However, after Lincoln was assassinated, the government lost sight of his goals and it turned into a mostly unconstructive and corrupt period of time.
The period of Reconstruction in the United States was a time of progress for the legal rights of African Americans. It was the Radical Republican Party that overpowered the southern sympathizer, President Johnson, and passed laws that increased the rights of Blacks. This radical party, infuriated by both Lincoln's and Johnson's plans for Reconstruction, was able to elect a Radical Republican majority to Congress, increasing their power to fight against the presidents actions in Reconstruction.
Thanks to the efforts of the Radical Republicans, during the period of Reconstruction, the former slave class was granted many new liberties. The first and most important new liberty the Blacks had earned was US citizenship; in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 it is stated that all persons born in the US, excluding Indians, were automatically US citizens. In further reform to African American Rights, the Constitution was amended; in the 14th Amendment the civil rights of these newly freed slaves were protected and in the 15th Amendment Black males were guaranteed the right to vote. In order to protect these amendments, the Enforcement Act was passed, which empowered federal authorities to punish those who encroached upon another man's rights guaranteed by the 14th and 15th Amendments. Thus, Reconstruction was seemingly an enormous improvement in the African-Americans' campaign for equality.