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Civil War

  • Abolition

    Abolition
    Forten’s unwavering belief that he was an American not only led him to oppose colonization—the effort to resettle free blacks in Africa—but also pushed him fervently to oppose slavery. Forten was joined in his opposition to slavery by a growing number of Americans in the 19th century. Abolition, the movement to abolish slavery, became the most important of a series of reform movements in America.
  • Missouri Compromise

    Missouri Compromise
    Northerners and Southerners disagreed on whether Missouri should be admitted as a free state or a slave state. Behind the leadership of Henry Clay, Congress passed a series of agreements as the Missouri Compromise. Under these agreements, Maine was admitted as a free state and Missouri as a slave state. The rest of the Louisiana Territory was split into two parts. The dividing line was set. South of the line, slavery was legal. North of the line—except in Missouri—slavery was banned.
  • Santa Fe Trail

    Santa Fe Trail
    The settlers and traders who made the trek west used a series of old Native American trails as well as new routes. One of the busiest routes was the Santa Fe Trail, which stretched 780 miles from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe in the Mexican province of New Mexico. (See map on page 132.) Each spring from 1821 through the 1860s, American traders loaded their covered wagons with goods
    and set off toward Santa Fe.
  • Mexico abolishes slavery

    Mexico abolishes slavery
    Despite peaceful cooperation between Anglos and Tejanos, differences over cultural issues intensified between Anglos and the
    Mexican government. The overwhelmingly Protestant Anglo settlers spoke English instead of Spanish. Furthermore, many of the settlers were Southerners, who had brought slaves with them to Texas. Mexico, which had abolished slavery in 1829, insisted in vain that the Texans free their slaves.
  • San Felipe de Austin

    San Felipe de Austin
    The main settlement of the colony was named San Felipe de Austin, in Stephen’s honor. By 1825, Austin had issued 297 land grants to the group that later became known as Texas’s Old Three Hundred. Each family received either 177 very inexpensive acres of farmland, or 4,428 acres for stock grazing, as well as a 10-year exemption from paying taxes. By 1830, there were more than 20,000 Americans in Texas.
  • The Liberator 1

    The Liberator 1
    The most radical white abolitionist was an editor named William Lloyd Garrison. Active in religious reform movements. He wrote the Liberator, to deliver an uncompromising demand: immediate emancipation.
  • The Liberator 2

    The Liberator 2
    Before Garrison’s call for the immediate emancipation of slaves, support for that position had been limited. In the 1830s, however, that position gained support. Whites who opposed abolition hated Garrison. In 1835 a Boston mob paraded him through town at the end of a rope. Nevertheless, Garrison enjoyed widespread black support; three out of four early subscribers to The Liberator were African Americans.
  • Nat Turner's Rebellion

    Nat Turner's Rebellion
    Some slaves rebelled against their condition of bondage. One of the most prominent rebellions was led by Virginia slave Nat Turner. In August 1831, Turner and more than 50 followers attacked four plantations and killed about 60 whites. Whites eventually captured and executed many members of the group, including Turner.
  • Stephen F. Austin goes to jail

    Stephen F. Austin goes to jail
    Meanwhile, Mexican politics had become increasingly unstable. Austin had traveled to Mexico City late in 1833 to present petitions to Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna for greater self-government for Texas. While Austin was on his way home, Santa Anna had Austin imprisoned for inciting revolution.
  • Texas Revolution

    Texas Revolution
    After Santa Anna suspended local powers in Texas and other Mexican states, several rebellions broke out, including one that would be known as the Texas Revolution.
  • Oregon Trail

    Oregon Trail
    The Oregon Trail stretched from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon City, Oregon. It was blazed in 1836 by two Methodist missionaries named Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. By driving their wagon as far as Fort Boise (near present-day Boise, Idaho), they proved that wagons could travel on the Oregon Trail.
  • Manifest Destiny

    Manifest Destiny
    For a quarter century after the War of 1812, only a few Americans explored the West. Then, in the 1840s, expansion fever gripped the country. Many Americans began to believe that their movement westward was predestined by God. The phrase “manifest destiny”
    expressed the belief that the United States was ordained to expand to the Pacific Ocean and into Mexican and Native American territory. Many Americans also believed that this destiny was manifest, or obvious and inevitable.
  • Texas enters the United States

    Texas enters the United States
    Most Texans hoped that the United States would annex their republic, but U.S. opinion divided along sectional lines. Southerners wanted Texas in order to extend slavery, which already had been established there. Northerners feared that the annexation of more slave territory would tip the uneasy balance in the Senate in favor of slave states. The 1844 U.S. presidential campaign focused on westward expansion. The winner, James K. Polk, a slaveholder, firmly favored the annexation of Texas.
  • Mexican-American War

    Mexican-American War
    In 1845, John C. Frémont led an American military exploration party into California, violating Mexico’s territorial rights. In response, Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande. In a skirmish near Matamoros, Mexican soldiers killed 11 U.S. soldiers. Polk immediately called for war and Congress approved.
  • Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates

    Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates
    Several months after the Dred Scott decision, one of Illinois’s greatest political contests got underway: the 1858 race for the U.S. Senate between Democratic incumbent Stephen Douglas and Republican challenger Congressman Abraham Lincoln. To many outsiders it must have seemed like an uneven match. Douglas was a well-known two-term senator with an outstanding record and a large campaign chest, while Lincoln was a self educated man who had been elected to one term in Congress in 1846.
  • Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates 2

    Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas Debates 2
    To counteract Douglas, Lincoln challenged the man known as the “Little Giant” to a series of debates on the issue of slavery in the territories. Douglas accepted the challenge, and the stage was set for some of the most celebrated debates in U.S. history.
  • The North Star

    The North Star
    One of those eager readers was Frederick Douglass, Garrison heard him speak and was so impressed that he sponsored Douglass to speak for various anti-slavery organizations.
    Hoping that abolition could be achieved without violence, Douglass
    broke with Garrison, who believed that abolition justified whatever
    means were necessary to achieve it. In 1847, Douglass began his own antislavery newspaper. He named it The North Star, after the star that guided runaway slaves to freedom.
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

    Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
    Meanwhile, American troops in Mexico, led by U.S. generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, scored one military victory after
    another. After about a year of fighting, Mexico conceded defeat. On February 2, 1848, the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico agreed to the Rio Grande as the border between Texas and Mexico and ceded the New Mexico and California territories to the United States.
  • Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman
    One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman. In 1849, after Tubman’s owner died, she heard rumors that she was about to be sold. Fearing this possibility, Tubman decided to make a break for freedom and succeeded in reaching Philadelphia. Shortly after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, Tubman resolved to become a conductor on the Underground Railroad. In all, she made 19 trips back to the South and is said to have helped 300 slaves—including her own parents—flee to freedom.
  • Compromise of 1850 1

    Compromise of 1850 1
    The question of statehood for California topped the agenda. Of equal concern was the border dispute in which the slave state of Texas claimed the eastern half of the New Mexico Territory, where the issue of slavery had not yet been settled. As passions mounted, threats of Southern secession, the formal withdrawal of a state
    from the Union, became more frequent. Once again, Henry Clay worked to shape a compromise that both the North
    and the South could accept.
  • Compromise of 1850 2

    Compromise of 1850 2
    Clay presented to the Senate a series of resolutions later called the Compromise of 1850. To please the North, the compromise provided that California be admitted to the Union as a free state. To please the South, the compromise proposed a new and more effective fugitive slave law. To placate both sides, a provision allowed popular sovereignty, the right to vote for or against slavery, for residents of the New Mexico and Utah territories.
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    Fugitive Slave Act
    Under the law, alleged fugitive slaves were not entitled to a trial by jury. In addition, anyone convicted of helping a fugitive was liable for a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. Infuriated by the Fugitive Slave Act, some Northerners resisted
    it by organizing “vigilance committees” to send endangered African Americans to safety in Canada. Others resorted to violence to rescue fugitive slaves. Still others worked to help slaves escape from slavery
  • Underground Railroad

    Underground Railroad
    As time went on, free African Americans and white abolitionists developed a secret network of people who would, at great risk to themselves, hide fugitive slaves. The system of escape routes they used became known as the Underground Railroad. “Conductors” on the routes hid fugitives in secret tunnels and false cupboards, provided them with food and clothing, and escorted or directed them to the next “station.” Once fugitives reached the North, many chose to remain there.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which stressed that slavery was not just a political contest, but also a great moral struggle. As a young girl, Stowe had watched boats filled with people on their way to be sold at slave markets. Uncle Tom’s Cabin expressed her lifetime hatred of slavery.
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act

    Kansas-Nebraska Act
    Douglas introduced a bill in Congress on January 23, 1854,
    that would divide the area into two territories: Nebraska in the north and Kansas in the south. If passed, the bill would repeal the Missouri Compromise and establish popular sovereignty for
    both territories. Congressional debate was bitter. Some Northern congressmen saw the bill as part of a plot to turn the territories into slave states. Southerners strongly defended the proposed legislation. The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law in 1854.
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Dred Scott v. Sandford
    A major Supreme Court decision was brought about by Dred Scott, a slave whose owner took him from the slave state of Missouri to free territory in Illinois and Wisconsin and back to Missouri. Scott appealed to the Supreme Court for his freedom on the grounds that living in a free state—Illinois—and a free territory—Wisconsin—had made him a free man.
  • John Brown's raid/Harpers Ferry

    John Brown's raid/Harpers Ferry
    John Brown was studying the slave uprisings that had occurred in ancient Rome and, more recently, on the French island of Haiti. He believed that the time was ripe for similar uprisings in the United States. Brown secretly obtained financial backing from several prominent Northern abolitionists. On the night of October 16, 1859, he led a band of 21 men, black and white, into Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His aim was to seize the federal arsenal there and start a general slave uprising.
  • Abraham Lincoln becomes president

    Abraham Lincoln becomes president
    As the 1860 presidential election approached, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln. He appeared to be moderate in his views. Although he pledged to halt the further spread of slavery, he also tried to reassure Southerners that a Republican administration would not “interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves.” Nonetheless, many Southerners viewed him as an enemy. Lincoln emerged as the winner with less than half the popular vote and with no electoral votes from the South.
  • Attack on Fort Sumter

    Attack on Fort Sumter
    Months earlier, as soon as the Confederacy was formed, Confederate soldiers in each secessionist state began seizing federal installations—especially forts. By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, only four Southern forts remained in Union hands. The most important was Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston harbor. Lincoln decided to neither abandon Fort Sumter nor reinforce it. Fort Sumter fell.
  • Formation of the Confedeacy

    Formation of the Confedeacy
    Mississippi soon followed South Carolina’s lead, as did Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. In February 1861, delegates from the secessionist states met in Montgomery, Alabama, where they formed the Confederate States of America, or Confederacy. They also drew up a constitution that closely resembled that of the United States, but with a few notable differences. The most important difference was that it “protected and recognized” slavery in new territories.
  • Battle of Bull Run

    Battle of Bull Run
    McClellan ordered his men to pursue Lee, and the two sides fought on September 17 near a creek called the Antietam. The clash proved to be the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with casualties totaling more than 26,000. The next day, instead of pursuing the battered Confederate army into Virginia and possibly ending the war, McClellan did nothing. As a result, Lincoln removed him from command.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    Emancipation Proclamation
    On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The following portion captured national attention. The proclamation did not free any slaves immediately because it applied only to areas behind Confederate lines, outside Union control. Nevertheless, for many, the proclamation gave the war a moral purpose by turning the struggle into a fight to free the slaves. It also ensured that compromise was no longer possible
  • Battle at Gettysburg

    Battle at Gettysburg
    Near the sleepy town of Gettysburg, in southern Pennsylvania, the most decisive battle of the war was fought. The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1 when Confederate soldiers led by A. P. Hill encountered several brigades of Union cavalry under the command of John Buford, an experienced officer from Illinois.
  • Gettysburg address

    Gettysburg address
    In November 1863, a ceremony was held to dedicate a cemetery in Gettysburg. There, President Lincoln spoke for a little more than two minutes. According to some contemporary historians, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address “remade America.” Before Lincoln’s speech, people said, “The United States are . . .” Afterward, they said, “The United States is . . .” In other words, the speech helped the country to realize that it was not just a collection of individual states; it was one unified nation.
  • Battle at Vicksburg

    Battle at Vicksburg
    While Meade’s Army of the Potomac was destroying Confederate hopes in Gettysburg, Union general Ulysses S. Grant fought to take Vicksburg, one of the two remaining Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi River. Vicksburg itself was particularly important because it rested on bluffs above the river from which guns could control all water traffic. In the winter, Grant tried several schemes to reach Vicksburg and take it from the Confederates. Nothing seemed to work—until the spring of 1863.
  • Sherman's March

    Sherman's March
    In the spring of 1864, Sherman began his march southeast through Georgia to the sea, creating a wide path of destruction. His army burned almost every house in its path and destroyed livestock and railroads. Sherman was determined to make Southerners“ so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.” By mid-November he had burned most of Atlanta
  • Thirteen Amendment

    Thirteen Amendment
    After some political maneuvering, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified at the end of 1865. The U.S. Constitution now stated, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
  • Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

    Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
    Lincoln, who never regained consciousness, died on April 15. It was the first time a president of the United States had been assassinated. After the shooting, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth—a 26-year-old actor and Southern sympathizer— then leaped down from the presidential box to the stage and escaped. Twelve days later, Union cavalry trapped him in a Virginia tobacco shed and shot him dead.
  • Surrender at Appomattox Court House

    Surrender at Appomattox Court House
    On April 3, 1865, Union troops conquered Richmond, the Confederate capital. Southerners had abandoned the city the day before, setting it afire to keep the Northerners from taking it. On April 9, 1865, in a Virginia town called Appomattox Court House, Lee and Grant met at a private home to arrange a Confederate surrender. At Lincoln’s request, the terms were generous. Grant paroled Lee’s soldiers and sent them home with their possessions and three days’ worth of rations.
  • Income Tax

    Income Tax
    As the Northern economy grew, Congress decided to help pay for the war by collecting the nation’s first income tax, a tax that takes a specified percentage of an individual’s income.
  • Conscription

    Conscription
    The war led to social upheaval and political unrest in both the North and the South. As the fighting intensified, heavy casualties and widespread desertions led each side to impose conscription, a draft that forced men to serve in the army. In the North, conscription led to draft riots, the most violent of which took place in New York City. Sweeping changes occurred in the wartime economies of both sides as well as in the roles played by African Americans and women.