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“Reconstruction,” lithograph by J. L. Giles, ca. 1867

A popular print from 1867 was an allegory of Reconstruction. Combining patriotic and religious imagery, it depicted Americans rebuilding a pavilion representing the United States. Citizens replaced the foundations of slavery that formerly supported Southern states with new bases of justice and liberty. Scenes from American history, symbols of freedom, and portraits of luminaries surrounded and adorned the pavilion.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Reconstruction,” lithograph by J. L. Giles, ca. 1867

Reconstruction of the Union

After the Civil War, Congress and the executive branch struggled over when and how to bring the former Confederate states back into the Union. The Joint Committee on Reconstruction—established by Congress in December 1865 to investigate and establish conditions for seceded states to regain their congressional representation—strongly disagreed with President Andrew Johnson’s preference for quick readmission. After a yearlong study, the fifteen-member committee outlined qualifications for readmission, including ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.