Would a more gradualist approach to extending rights to and establishing freedom for African Americans have been more successful?
Many Americans like to imagine the history of their nation as one of continual progress. [ While acknowledging that not all persons and groups enjoyed equal rights at all times, Americans often take it for granted that American history moves in only one direction: toward greater rights, greater freedom, and greater equality. This perspective makes it difficult for many Americans to understand
the Reconstruction period and to place it in a broader historical narrative. The problem they face is that African Americans from roughly 1867 to 1875 enjoyed far more political influence and equal rights than they ever had before, or ever would again until the end of the modern Civil Rights Movement almost a century later. The fact that a group could be stripped of rights it once enjoyed is difficult for many Americans to accept, and so they often retreat into a false narrative, in which African Americans never gained any rights at all, and were abandoned to their fate as soon as slavery ended. In this model, the infamous Black Codes—which were in effect for less than a year—take center stage, and the various gains of Reconstruction get ignored. ]
There are no new answers.