A couple additional notes about Eric Foner's Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 feel warranted. It's nearly 700 pages after all and paradigmatic for late 20th century understanding of that painfilled period.
A friend, like me educated in the 1960's, noticed the book sitting by my desk and asked: "weren't we taught that Reconstruction was a failure, a scam, somehow a wrong turn?" Yes, those of us in that age group were so taught.
Foner devotes his volume to resurrecting a very different truth.
He goes on to recount how the literal descendants of brave freed-people who were active for black empowerment during Reconstruction became leaders of subsequent black struggles to the present day.
And Foner is specific about who he blames for the false narrative taught to both whites and blacks during the first two-thirds of the 20th century.
It took the uprisings of the Civil Rights era to undo this lying narrative.
It is not as if I didn't understand that this was how mid-19th century politics aligned, but living in the times we do, it is slightly jarring to listen to stories of Black Republicans fighting off rampaging Democratic Klansmen. But that's how the political parties operated from 1863 to 1870 or so. Democrats only became a party, in the North, that sought Black adherents from about 1936; the Voting Rights Act of 1965 completed the shift that made Republicans the white supremacist party in the South.
Contemporary right-wingers peddle a modern crackpot historical meme that highlights 19th century Democrats' hostility to black empowerment in order to downplay their own current Republican drive to curtail Black voting. History remains a battleground upon which truth and freedom have to struggle against convenient lies.