Abraham Lincoln gives a speech in NYC opposing the spread of slavery, making him a leading candidate in the upcoming presidential election.
Democratic National Convention
Democrats meet in Charleston, South Carolina, the most pro-slavery U.S. city at the time, and are divided over the issue of slavery. 50 southern delegates walk out.
Abraham Lincoln is nominated as the Republican Party's presidential candidate at the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
A count of the population reveals African Americans to make up 4.5 of the 31 million people living in the U.S. Of those 4.5 million, 4 million are enslaved.
Democratic National Convention Re-Convenes
Democrats re-convene in Baltimore to decide if the delegates who walked out in Charleston should be re-admitted or replaced.
The Stone's Prairie Riot
Taking place in Payson and Plainville, Illinois, armed Democratic Stephen A. Douglas supporters riot against the Republican youth organization/paramilitary organization known as the Wide Awakes.
Abraham Lincoln Wins Election
Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln wins the election of 1860 with 180 electoral votes, beating out John C. Breckinridge, John Bell, and Stephen A. Douglas.
Constitutional Unionist of Kentucky John J. Crittenden proposes that slavery be permanently enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, but is unsuccessful in his efforts to carry out this plan.
South Carolina Secedes
In 1860, South Carolina officially breaks away from the United States of America.
South Carolina Declaration of Secession
The South Carolina Declaration is issued 4 days after SC secedes from the Union to explain their reasons for seceding.
Fort Johnson Seized
Shortly after its secession from the United States, South Carolina seizes Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbor.
Delaware Rejects Confederacy
Two weeks after South Carolina's secession from the United States, Delaware legislature rejects a similar proposal to join the Confederacy.
President Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated in Washington D.C. On this same day, he receives a message from Major Robert Anderson.
Constitution of the Confederate States Adopted
The Constitution of the Confederate States, protecting slavery as an institution, is adopted.
The opening scene of the war, Confederate forces attack the Union at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, but nobody dies.
Robert E. Lee Joins Confederate Army
Robert E. Lee is commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate army after his home state of Virginia joins the Confederacy, despite Lee himself opposing slavery.
Dorothea Dix Sets Up Hospitals
Mental health advocate and nurse Dorothea Dix offers to help set up hospitals for the Union army.
1st Battle of Bull Run
30,000 inexperienced Union troops led by General Irvin McDowell vs. General Thomas Jackson's Confederate army. The disorganized Union army cannot make an advancement, eventually retreating.
Winfield Scott retires and George McClellan is made the new commander of all Union armies.
Election of Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis is elected the first and only president of the Confederacy.
Fort Henry Captured
Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his forces capture Fort Henry on the Tennessee River with the help of ironclad gun boats.
Fort Donelson Captured
Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his forces capture yet another fort in Tennessee, this one being on the Cumberland River.
Battle of Hampton Roads
Also known as the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack or the Battle of Ironclads, this naval battle was the first engagement of ironclad warships, marking the start of a new era of naval warfare.
Battle of Shiloh
Confederates take Grant by surprise early in the morning after he gathers his troops near a church in Tennessee called Shiloh. Grant counterattacks by dawn the next day. The battle showed the importance of trench warfare.
Seven Days Battles
The series of battles began when the Army of the Potomac, led by George McClelland, went down the Potomac River to the Chesapeake Bay until they met Confederate General Robert E. Lee. By July 1st, Lee had less men but McClellan still retreated.
2nd Battle of Bull Run
Despite their abundant casualties, the Confederacy managed to pull an offensive victory at Bull Run near Manassas, Virginia against the much larger Union army.
Abraham Lincoln issues a proclamation stating that as of January 1st, all slaves in Confederate states will be declared free.
Lee's Plans Discovered
McClellan's men find General Lee's Special Order No. 191 wrapped in cigars in Maryland.
Battle of Antietam
With 500 deaths in less than 10 minutes and a total of over 26,000 casualties by its conclusion, the battle in Sharpsburg, Maryland is the bloodiest single day battle of the Civil War.
Battle of Fredericksburg
One of the largest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg saw Union defeat as the result mismanagement from General Burnside.
All men between the ages of 20 and 45 are made liable to be called for military service, unless they pay a fee or find a substitute.
1st Medal of Honor
U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton awards six army soldiers the first ever Medals of Honor in Washington as the result of their action in the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.
Battle of Chancellorsville
Despite being a huge victory for the Confederacy, this battle in Virginia is where the Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson obtained the wound which would eventually kill him.
West Virginia Secedes
Western counties of Confederate Virginia secede from the state as the result of political differences, and are officially declared their own state.
Battle of Gettysburg
The 3 day turning point of the war resulting in more deaths than any other battle, a boost in northern morale, and the attempted resignation of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Siege of Vicksburg
After Ulysses S. Grant shells Vicksburg for several days in an attempt to secure the Mississippi, the Confederates surrender.
Robert E. Lee Attempts to Resign
After his loss at Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sends a letter of resignation to Jefferson Davis, only to be denied his request.
Siege of Knoxville
Confederate general James Longstreet places Knoxville, Tennessee under siege. Two weeks later, he abandons the siege to rejoin Robert E. Lee.
After the devastating Battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, encouraging both sides to finish out the war and make the fallen soldiers' sacrifices worth something.
Battle of Chattanooga
Union forces push Confederate troops out of Chattanooga, setting the stage for General Sherman's Atlanta Campaign.
1st Successful Submarine Attack
Union ship Housatonic is sunk by Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, marking the world's first successful submarine attack.
Grant Appointed Commander
Major General Ulysses S. Grant is officially promoted by Lincoln to the rank of lieutenant general.
Surgeon Captured and Arrested
Confederate troops capture Union surgeon Mary Edwards Walker, who is arrested on suspicions that she is a spy. Walker would become the first and only woman to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor, though it was eventually rescinded when the recipient criteria changed.
Battle of the Wilderness
Though inconclusive in terms of definitive victory for either side, the Battle of the Wilderness sets the stage for an important Union offensive toward Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital.
Battle of Spotsylvania
Ulysses S. Grant vows to fight all summer at Spotsylvania Court House in a determined continuation of his series of attacks on Lee, which would become known as Grant's Wilderness Campaign.
Confederate Troops Approach D.C.
Confederate General Jubal Early and his forces are driven back to Virginia within 5 miles of Washington, D.C. after an attempt to relieve the pressure put on Lee's army in Maryland.
Sherman's Atlanta Campaign
Confederate General John Bell Hood surrenders Atlanta, Georgia to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, greatly boosting Northern morale.
Abraham Lincoln is re-elected, which most thought wouldn't be possible until Sherman's Atlanta victory boosted his popularity.
Sherman's March to the Sea
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman begins his military campaign from Atlanta to the coast, leaving a wide path of destruction until he reaches North Carolina.
Battle of Nashville
Confederate General George H. Thomas's army is shattered by Union General John B. Hood, effectively ending the fighting in Tennessee.
Campaign of the Carolinas
General Sherman leaves a devastating path of destruction through North and South Carolina, collapsing the Confederacy's western forces and removing nearly all hope of Confederate victory.
Second Battle of Fort Fisher
The Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps carry out a successful assault on Fort Fisher, the last major open port to the Confederacy.
General Lee attacks General Grant's forces near Petersburg, Virginia but is defeated.
Grant calls upon Lee to surrender and the two meet at Appomattox Courthouse to agree to the terms.
Assassination of President Lincoln
Maryland actor John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. in an attempt to avenge the Confederate defeat. The next morning, Lincoln dies.
Jefferson Davis Captured
Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured near Irwinville, Georgia and later imprisoned in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Army of the Potomac Celebrates
The Army of the Potomac parades down Pennsylvania Avenue in celebration of the conclusion of the Civil War.
Congress passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the entirety of the United States
Henry Wirz Conviction
Superintendent of the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia Henry Wirz is tried and convicted of war crimes including conspiracy and murder.
Execution of Captain Henry Wirz
Henry Wirz is hanged for his war crimes in the yard of the Old Capitol Prison.
Farewell to The Liberator
The last issue of William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist paper The Liberator is published upon the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Freedmen's Bureau Act
Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull introduces a bill extending the provisions of the Freedmen's Bureau Act by removing an expiration date and encompassing freedmen and refugees everywhere in the United States—not just in the ex-Confederate states.
Congress Authorizes National Soldiers' Homes
A new legislation lowering the number of members on the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers' board to 12 is passed by Congress.
Civil Rights Bill Vetoed
President Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866, declaring all persons born in the United States to be citizens, "without distinction of race or color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude."
Congress Overrides Veto
Shortly after Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act, Congress overrides his veto and passes the bill.
American Equal Rights Association Forms
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association at the eleventh National Woman's Rights Convention to secure equal rights for all American citizens.
14th Amendment Passed
Congress passes the 14th Amendment, extending the liberties granted by the Bill of Rights to formerly enslaved people.
Tennessee Readmitted to Union
Tennessee becomes the first Confederate state to rejoin the Union.
Civil War Officially Ends
Despite fighting having been over for longer than a year, President Andrew Johnson finally declares a formal end to the Civil War.
1st Black Delegate
Formerly enslaved man Frederick Douglass becomes the 1st U.S. black delegate to attend a national convention.
Black Men Granted the Right to Vote
Despite Andrew Johnson's veto, African American men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.
1st Reconstruction Act
Congress passes the Reconstruction Act of 1867,outlining the terms of readmission and representation for rebel states.
The Peonage Abolition Act of 1867 abolishes peonage, also known as debt slavery, in the New Mexico Territory as well as anywhere else in the U.S. it may exist.
2nd Reconstruction Act
Congress passes the Second Reconstruction Act, establishing a two-year U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and creating a civil rights division of the Justice Department.
Congress Approves Lincoln Memorial
2 years after Lincoln's assassination, a monument in his honor is approved by Congress to be built in Washington, D.C.
Richmond Streetcar Protest
African Americans in Richmond, Virginia organize protests against the company that refused to let them ride its horse-drawn streetcars.
Black Voters Register
Black voter registration begins despite suffrage not technically being granted to African Americans in the Constitution yet.
3rd Reconstruction Act
Congress yet again overrides President Johnson's veto and passes the 3rd of the Reconstruction Acts, requiring new state constitutions which recognize the voting rights of black men.
Courts Ordered to Enroll Black Jurors
General Edward Canby, otherwise known as ERS Canby, orders South Carolina courts to impanel black jurors.
Congress Considers Impeachment
Congress begins to consider impeaching President Andrew Johnson for "high crimes and misdemeanors."