Americans who lived through Reconstruction almost invariably described it as a period of revolution equal to, or perhaps more potent than, the first American Revolution. Undoubtedly Reconstruction created enormous political, social, economic, and cultural change, including the creation of the 14th and 15th Amendments, civil rights legislation, and the growth of African-American grassroots politics. But they meant something more than that when they talked of revolution. They meant that Reconstruction’s leaders went beyond normal, constitutional politics. Like other revolutions in world history, Americans transgressed normal boundaries in order to create what they hoped would be a new order of society. By placing Reconstruction within the context of other revolutions, this lecture helps us see anew the boldness of American Reconstruction.