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|You are right that you cannot hope to understand 19th century events if you look at them thru 21st century eyes and a 21st century mindset.
many consider reconstruction a failure because it planted the seeds of the racial problems that we suffer from today. In addition it set the stage to continue the regional conflicts that also continue today. Tarriffs enacted during reconstruction were not completely lifted until the Truman administration. I know that was eons ago for you, but it really wasn't tha tlong ago.