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Clearly, there were some lasting, positive changes.
And although there was some industrialization, the region remained committed to an agricultural economy and used sharecropping as a legal means to ensure that blacks would still work the land that whites still owned.
As soon as former Confederates had their right to vote restored, so-called 'Redeemers' won public office and began to systematically undo most of the social and economic reforms.
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Many African Americans participated in new state and local governments, which worked for equal rights and to rebuild or create services like schools, railroads, hospitals, housing, roads and asylums.
Charitable organizations and individuals - especially Northerners - worked to improve literacy and education for African Americans. Despite these many achievements, Reconstruction faced tremendous challenges, many of them (but not all of them) because of white resistance.
Republicans in the federal government felt responsible for restoring public infrastructure, private property, food production, medical care and housing - all while the workforce and economy were in shambles.
Furthermore, they wanted to change many characteristics of Southern society and politics.
There were tremendous advances at every level, including the Reconstruction Amendments and other federal legislation.
As states were readmitted to the Union, new governments worked to improve services for all of their citizens, and private individuals contributed to the economic and educational development of the South.