When the War was over, Jonathan and Susan Grenville moved their family back to Charleston, only to find that peace was easier to declare than to practice. The war that tore a nation apart might have ended in 1865, but the most important battles remained to be fought. The North struggled to resume business as usual, while the South faced economic disaster. Old state constitutions needed to be re-written before the United States would take their former enemies back into the Union. Old political alliances collapsed, and the party of Lincoln faced graft and corruption. And over everyone the question of what to do with the thousands of former slaves whose status as citizens remained undefined.
The following ten years gave rise to some of the most important constitutional developments in the history of the United States. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments would change the face of a nation, but the advances came at a terrible cost. In many ways, the transition would take another hundred years to reach fruition. And in the meantime, generations of black men learned that the pathway to becoming African-American was a dangerous one.
At the same time, the Grenvilles were swept up into political rivalries and civil riots that churned their peaceful streets into battlegrounds. Family ties shattered as their maturing children searched for their own answers to the questions of how best to live their lives. One son took refuge in a separatist religious community, while another became an armed advocate of White Supremacy. Susan’s black cousins fought for equality and became targets of those who blacks. A daughter was swept into a romance with a black man. Daily life became a constant battle marked by visits from the Ku Klux Klan, threats of violence, and accusations of murder.