"Counter-Reconstruction" was a white racist political movement that occurred in southern states after the Civil War. Counter-Reconstruction systematically sought denial black voting rights, removal of blacks from political office and curtailment of economic opportunities available to blacks. Southern whites had became terrified by wide-spread black engagement in legitimate political process by the 1870s. Counter-Reconstruction was the initial, reactionary phase of the Jim Crow era. The term plays on "Counter-Reformation". Since the Counter-Reformation was self-serving Catholic reaction to Protestant gains, the term further indicts the largely-Protestant southern white population for its Christian hypocrisy.
Robert Brown Elliot unavoidably fueled Counter-Reconstruction in his brilliant 1874 Congressional debate with the "brain of the confederacy". Southern whites were terrified by an eloquent, erudite black leader who was a living repudiation of plantation racism. They reacted in fear and overwhelming numbers to reimpose slavery in the form of Jim Crow laws. As a result, the aims of Reconstruction would not take hold for another 90 years.