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Civil War

  • Abolition

    Abolition
    Abolition, the movement to abolish slavery, became the most important of a series of reform movements in America.
  • Missouri Compromise

    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 apart. The dividing line was set at 36°30´ north latitude. South of the line, slavery was legal. North of the line, except in Missouri, slavery was banned.
  • Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman
    One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman,
    born a slave in Maryland in 1820 or 1821. 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
  • Santa Fe Trail

    Santa Fe Trail
    One of the busiest westward routes was the Santa Fe Trail, which stretched 780 miles from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe in the Mexican province of New Mexico.
  • San Felipe de Austin

    San Felipe de Austin
    Stephen F. Austin established a colony where “no drunkard, no gambler, no profane swearer, and no idler” would be allowed. The main settlement of the colony was named San Felipe de Austin, in Stephen’s honor.
  • The Liberator

    The Liberator
    Active in religious reform movements in Massachusetts, Garrison became the editor of an antislavery paper in 1828. Three years later he established his own paper, The Liberator, to deliver an uncompromising demand: immediate emancipation.
  • Mexico Abolishes Slavery

    Mexico Abolishes Slavery
    Mexico, which had abolished slavery in 1829, insisted in vain that the Texans free their slaves.
  • 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
    While Austin was on his way home, Santa Anna had Austin imprisoned for inciting 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.
  • Texas Revolution

    Texas Revolution
    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. Several rebellions broke out, including the Texas Revolution
  • Manifest Destiny

    Manifest Destiny
    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
    The 1844 U.S. presidential campaign focused on westward expansion. The winner, James K. Polk, a slaveholder, firmly favored the annexation of Texas. In March 1845, angered by U.S.-Texas negotiation on annexation, the Mexican government recalled its ambassador from Washington. In 1845, Texas entered the Union. Events moved quickly toward war.
  • Mexican-American War

    Mexican-American War
    A border skirmish along the Rio Grande started off the fighting and was followed by a series of U.S. victories. When the dust cleared, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.
  • The North Star

    The North Star
    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
    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.
  • Compromise of 1850

    Compromise of 1850
    Henry Clay worked to shape a compromise that both the North and the South could accept. After obtaining support of the powerful Massachusetts senator Daniel Webster, Clay presented to the Senate a series of resolutions later called the Compromise of 1850.
  • Fugitive Slave Act

    Fugitive Slave Act
    The harsh terms of the Fugitive Slave Act surprised many people. 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.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Meanwhile, another woman brought the horrors of slavery into the homes of a great many Americans. 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
    Some Northern congressmen saw the bill as part of a plot to turn the territories into slave states. Southerners strongly defended the proposed legislation. After months of struggle, the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law in 1854.
  • 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.
  • Dread Scott v. Sandford

    Dread 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.
  • Abraham Lincoln & Stephen Douglas Debates

    Abraham Lincoln & 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 becomes President

    Abraham Lincoln becomes President
    As the 1860 presidential election approached, the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln 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.
  • Formation of the Confederacy

    Formation of the Confederacy
    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.
  • Attack on Fort Sumter

    Attack on Fort Sumter
    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. He would merely send in “food for hungry men.” At 4:30 A.M. on April 12, Confederate batteries began thundering away to the cheers of Charleston’s citizens. The deadly struggle between North and South was under way
  • Battle of Bull Run

    Battle of Bull Run
    The first bloodshed on the battlefield occurred about three months after Fort Sumter fell, near the little creek of Bull Run, just 25 miles from Washington, D.C. The battle was a seesaw affair. In the morning the Union army gained the upper hand, but the Confederates held firm, inspired by General Thomas J. Jackson. “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” another general shouted, coining the nickname Stonewall Jackson.
  • Battle at Antietam

    Battle at Antietam
    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.
  • Emancipation Proclaimation

    Emancipation Proclaimation
    Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclaimation, stating that as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."
  • Conscription

    Conscription
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    Union general Ulysses S. Grant fought to take Vicksburg, one of the two remainingConfederate 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 of 1862–1863, 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.
  • Surrender at Appomattox Court House

    Surrender at Appomattox Court House
    1865, Union troops conquered Richmond, the Confederate capital. Southerners had abandoned the city the day before, setting it ablaze 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.
  • 13th Amendment

    13th 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
    On April 14, 1865, five days after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Lincoln and his wife went to Ford’s Theatre in Washington to see a British comedy, Our American Cousin. During its third act, a man crept up behind Lincoln and shot the president in the back of his head.