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Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)

  • Abraham Lincoln Elected

    Because of the divided Democratic Party, Abraham Lincoln won the election as a minority president with only 40% of the vote.
  • The South Secedes

    The South Secedes
    After President Lincoln was delcared the next president, South Carolina seceded on December 20th, 1860 as they had previously warned. Following are the dates of secession of the other southern Confederate states:
    Mississippi: January 9
    Florida: January 10
    Alabama: January 11
    Georgia: January 19
    Louisiana: January 26
    Texas: February 1
    Virginia: April 17
    Arkansas: May 6
    Tennessee: May 7
    North Carolina: May 20
  • The Confederacy is Born

    The Confederacy is Born
    The South created the Confederacy at a convention in Montgomery, Alabama. The Confederate Constitution, similar to the U.S. Constitution, was created and Jefferson Davis was named the provisional president until another could be elected.
  • Lincoln Inaugurated

    Lincoln Inaugurated
    Over three months after his election, President Lincoln was now able to take action against the seceding states. While Buchanan was in office as a lame duck, South Carolina seceded, and the Confederate states was created.
  • The Civil War Begins

    The Civil War Begins
    The Battle of Fort Sumter takes place when General Pierre Beauregard of the Confederates upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The fort was forced to surrender the next day due to limited supplies and constant Confederate cannon fire.
  • Period: to

    Civil War

  • First Battle of Bull Run

    First Battle of Bull Run
    Also known as the First Battle of Manassas by the Confederate forces, the first Battle of Bull Run was an attempt by Union general Irvin McDowell to capture the Confederate capital of Richmong, Virginia. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson received his nickname during this battle, "Stonewall" Jackson, because his brigade stood their ground during the battle "like a stone wall." Union forces were pushed back and forced to retreat but both sides realized this would be a long and bloody war.
  • Trent Affair

    Trent Affair
    Captain Charles Wikles of the USS San Jacinto intercepted a British ship and removed, as contraband of war, two Confederate diplomats, James Mason and John Slidell. This caused anger in the Confederacy as well as Britain, however, the Confederacy saw the opportunity to cause war between the Union and Britain. Lincoln returned the diplomats and disavowed Wilkes' actions before tensions rose too high.
  • Battle of Shiloh

    Battle of Shiloh
    Also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing. General Ulysses S. Grant of the Union army is suprised by Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard's army at Shiloh on the Tennessee River. 13,000 Union soldier deaths and 10,000 Confederate deaths caused more casualties than all previous American wars combined. Confederate forces were forced to retreat.
  • Battle of Antietam

    Battle of Antietam
    Also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. This was the bloodiest day in American history as Gen. Robert E. Lee was stopped by Gen. George B. McClellan and a little over 20,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing. Although there was no clear victor as Lee withdrew (and was able to because of McClellan, causing his firing by Lincoln), the fight paved the way for President Lincoln to declare the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation

    The Emancipation Proclamation
    President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in rebelling states. This means that the slaves in the Confederacy were emancipated but slaves in the border states or the North would not be free until later. Although the proclamation could not really free the slaves, it was motivation for the northern states and slaves that were captured were freed and allowed to be in the Union army.
  • U.S. Congress Enacts a Draft

    U.S. Congress Enacts a Draft
    A draft was placed in the Union that drafted men between 20 and 45. However, exemptions could be bought for $300, causing unrest among the people.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville

    Battle of Chancellorsville
    Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker (Union) planned an attack on both sides of Gen. Robert E. Lee's army, only to be suprised when Lee had split his already smaller army in half. Lee proceeded to win the fight due to his assertive strategies, but in the process, lost "Stonewall" Jackson to friendly fire.
  • Battle of Gettysburg

    Battle of Gettysburg
    Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's (Union) armies were attacked by Gen. Robert E. Lee's for three days, resulting in a Union victory at the cost of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. This was a turning point in the war and led to the inspirational Gettysburg Address.
  • The Falling of Vickburg

    The Falling of Vickburg
    Gen. Ullyses S. Grant (Union) led an army that attacked the Confederate army led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton that was defending the city of Vicksburg. This allowed control of the Mississippi river, effectively splitting the Confederacy in half and also considered part of the turning point of the war.
  • New York Draft Riots

    New York Draft Riots
    Angered by the Civil War Draft and the exemption fee the wealthy could pay, many riots broke out in New York causing the deaths of at least a hundred black people by the ordinary middle-class.
  • Battle of Chickamauga

    Battle of Chickamauga
    Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans (Union) fought against Gen. Braxton Bragg's army in the second bloodiest Civil War battle, but was forced to retreat causing a Confederate win.
  • Gettysburg Address

    Lincoln delivered the speech at the Gettysburg ceremony, a ceremony dedicating the battlefield as a national cemetary, that gave hope to the Union people and would be known to this day.
  • 10 Percent Plan

    Abraham Lincoln proposed a plan that if ten percent of the 1860 vote count in a state took an oath of allegiance to the Union and agreed to abide by emancipation, the people of that state would receive full pardon (except the major generals and leaders) and their property (except slaves) would be protected.
  • Siege of Petersburg

    Siege of Petersburg
    Ulysses S. Grant (Union) surrounds Petersburg in a nine-month campaign and digs miles of trenches that prevent the supply of Lee's forces. This everntually causes the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.
  • Wade-Davis Bill

    Republicans in Congress propose the Wade Davis Bill as an alternative to Lincoln's 10 Percent Plan. Lincoln pocket-vetoes it
  • Sherman Captures Atlanta

    William Tecumseh Sherman led an invasion on Georgia that led to the capture of Atlanta. This has been tied to the reelection of President Lincoln, whose election over McClellan may have caused the Union victory.
  • Freedman's Bureau

    Freedman's Bureau
    The temporary Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (known as the Freedmen's Bureau) is established within the War Department
  • Gen. Robert E. Lee Surenders

    Gen. Robert E. Lee Surenders
    After a defeat at Petersburg, Lee surenders at Appomattox in a farm house to Gen. Ullyses S. Grant, effectively ending the war.
  • Lincoln's Death

    Lincoln's Death
    After being shot in the head at Ford's Theater the night before by John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln died at 7:22 in the morning from a point-blank gunshot wound to the head.
  • Black Codes

    Black Codes, laws passed mostly in Southern states after the Civil War that discrimunated and limited the rights of blacks, began to be passed. Jim Crow Laws and others would be the successors of these laws.
  • 13th Amendment Approved

    "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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
  • The Beginning of The KKK

    The Beginning of The KKK
    A group of mainly Confederate Army veterans create the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a terrorist group formed to intimidate blacks and other ethnic and religious minorities. It first meets in Pulaski, Tennessee. The Klan is the first of many secret terrorist organizations organized in the South for the purpose of reestablishing white authority.
  • Presidential Reconstruction Begins

    Republicans win well over a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate; the election is seen as a popular referendum on the widening divide between Johnson and the Radicals.
  • The Civil Rights Bill

    Congress passes the bill over Johnson's veto, angering him. This bill did not allow for sufferage or desegregation, but did not allow others to be given pain, suffering or obligations that others did not have to receive.
  • Memphis Race Riot

    Memphis Race Riot
    White civilians and police kill 46 African Americans and destroy 90 houses, schools, and four churches in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Souther States Re-admitted

    Previously-Confederate states began being admitted back into the United States starting with Tennessee.
    Tennessee: July 24, 1866
    Arkansas: June 22, 1868
    Louisiana: June 25, 1868
    Florida: June 25, 1868
    North Carolina: July 4, 1868
    South Carolina: July 9, 1868
    Alabama: July 14, 1868
    Virginia: Jan 26, 1870
    Mississippi: Feb 23, 1870
    Texas: March 30, 1870
    Geogia: July 15, 1870
    Georgia: July 15, 1870
  • New Orleans Race Riots

    Riots and a race massacre break out in New Orleans, Louisiana. A white mob attacks blacks and Radical Republicans attending a black suffrage convention, killing 40 people.
  • Black Men Vote in The District of Columbia

    Congress grants black male citizens the right to vote in the District of Columbia even though Johnson vetoed it.
  • Radical Reconstruction Acts

    These acts begin the period of Radical Reconstruction by enacting Military, Command of the Army, and Tenure of Office Reconstruction Acts.
  • Period: to


  • Second Reconstruction Act

    Congress passes the Second Reconstruction Act; military commanders in each southern district are to register all qualified adult males to vote.
  • Third Reconstruction Act

    Registrars are directed to go beyond the loyalty oath by determining the eligibility of each person who wants to take it; district commanders are authorized to re-take control by replacing the preexisting state officeholders.
  • Johnson Violates Office of Tenure Act

    The Office of Tenure Act restricted the president's ability to remove an office member while Congress is not in session. Johnson intentionally violates the Tenure of Office Act when he suspends Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and replaces him with General Ulysses S. Grant during a congressional recess, and causes himself to be impeached the next year.
  • The Supreme Court Loses Power

    Congress removes from the Supreme Court the power to review cases under the Habeas Corpus Act of the previous year.
  • Congress Attempts to Impeach Johnson

    Congress Attempts to Impeach Johnson
    Because of his "high crimes and misdemeanors" as well as violation of the Office of Tenure Act, Johnson becomes the furst president to be tried for impeachment and remains the only one until Bill Clinton over a century later. He was acquitted because of the requirement of a two-thirds vote, and was one vote away from being impeached.
  • Fourteenth Amendment

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
  • Opelousas Massacre

    Although it is very controversial how many blacks were killed in the massacre, it is beleived that around two hundred were killed, estimated by Republicans, contrasting with Lee's estimate of five and Democrats' estimate of about twenty-five.
  • Grant Wins The Election

    Grant Wins The Election
    Ulysses S. Grant wins the 1868 presidential election against New York Governor Horatio Seymour by a vote of 214 to 80.
  • Texas v. White

    In this court case, Texas was claiming unfair sale of its bonds. The case declared secession unconstitutional, declaring the bonds null, declaring Radical Reconstruction constitutional.
  • Black Friday

    Black Friday was a successful attempt by Jay Gould and James Fisk to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange and affected Grant's presidency when he sold gold during the time it was high.
  • Fifteenth Amendment

    "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
  • First Black Senator

    First Black Senator
    Hiram Rhodes Revels becomes the first person of color on the Senate, which makes him the first in all of Congress. He only served for one year.
  • Enforcement Acts

    Targeted at the KK, the Enforcement Acts protected blacks’ right to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, and receive equal protection of laws. If any state did not hold up the acts, the federal government could step in.
  • First Black Congressman

    First Black Congressman
    Joseph Hayne Rainey becomes the first person of color to be directly elected into the House of Representatives.
  • Ku Klux Klan Act

    Congress passes the Ku Klux Klan Act, a more far-reaching reform than the Enforcement Acts. This is the first time that specific crimes committed by individuals are deemed punishable by federal law.
  • Grant Declares Martial Law in South Carolina

    Grant causes a mass of arrests and by the following month, prosecutors are indicting Klan members under the Klan and Enforcement Acts.
  • Liberal Republican Convention

    Liberal Republican Convention
    The Liberal Republican Convention meets at Cincinnati. Leaders of the group include many prominent Republicans unhappy about what they perceive as vindictive Reconstruction policies and corruption in government, which they call Grantism. New York newspaperman Horace Greeley receives their nomination. Greeley's earlier radicalism, high tariff views, and well-known eccentricity repel many who oppose Grant. The Democrats, on July 9, also nominate Greeley.
  • Amnesty Act

    Allowed for the return of political rights to most secessionists whose rights were removed after the Civil War.
  • Freedman's Bureau Abolished

    It was criticized for its promotion of the Republican vote and was the least-liked Reconstrution reform. It was discontinued, and its duties were given to the general of the U.S. Army.
  • Credit Mobilier Scandal

    Credit Mobilier Scandal
    The New York Sun charges that Vice President Schuyler Colfax, vice-presidential nominee Henry Wilson, James Garfield, and a few others that are involved in the operations of the Crédit Mobilier, a corporation established by the promoters of the Union Pacific railroad to siphon off the profits of transcontinental railroad construction. Ultimately, two congressmen will be censured for their part in the swindle and many other politicians will be damaged in reputation.
  • Ulysses S. Grant is Reelected

    Ulysses S. Grant is Reelected
    This was a landslide victory for Grant, who earned 286 votes to Horace Greeley's 3. The reason behind this was Greeley's death soon after the popular vote, but before the electoral college vote. The three posthumous votes for Greeley were disallowed.
  • First Black Governor

    First Black Governor
    P. B. S. Pinchback becomes the first black man to serve as an acting state governor in Louisiana, for one month. He assumes the office upon the impeachment and removal of predecessor Henry Clay Warmouth, for corruption, but leaves quickly because of white resistance.
  • Panic of 1873

    Panic of 1873
    Although originally caused by the fall in demand of silver, the failure of Jay Cooke & Company caused the fall of many other banks and railroads across the nation, aiding the retention of this depression for seven years.
  • Freedman Bank Failure

    Freedman Bank Failure
    The Freedman Bank fails after bad investments, causing over 60,000 to lose most of their savings, some of them never receiving compensation.
  • First Black to Serve a Full Six-Year Term

    First Black to Serve a Full Six-Year Term
    Blanche Kelso Bruce was the first black to serve a full six-year term as senator.
  • Andrew Johnson Becomes a Senator

    Andrew Johnson Becomes a Senator
    Andrew Johnson becomes the first president to later serve in the Senate.
  • Whiskey Ring Scandal

    Whiskey Ring Scandal
    A group of public officials and liquor distillers have defrauded the federal government of millions by bribing liquor tax collectors.
  • United States v. Cruikshank

    The Supreme Court states that, Fifteenth Amendment notwithstanding, the Constitution "has not conferred the right of suffrage upon anyone." The decision emphasizes that the right to vote in the U.S. comes from the states, though "the right of exemption from the prohibited discrimination" comes from the federal government. This decision echoes Minor v. Happersett, which is passed the same year.
  • Election of 1876

    Election of 1876
    One of the closest elections in history, the election of 1876 was very controversial and still disputed today. Rutherford B. Hays (Republican) was pitted against Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat). When the electoral votes were cast, Tilden was in the lead with 184 to 165 and 20 disputed votes. Since Tilden had more popular votes, it seemed obvious he would win. However, due to controversy in the electoral college votes, the Compromise of 1877 was created which elected Hayes, and ended reconstruction.
  • Works Cited

    Kristen13, . "US Civil War and Reconstruction Era." XTimeLine. N.p., 15 Jan 2012. Web. 27 May 2013.
    "A Visual Timeline of Reconstruction: 1863-1877." DigitalHistory. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2013.
    "Reconstruction." Shmoop. N.p.. Web. 27 May 2013.
    Richard Lowe, "The Freedman?s Bureau and Local Black Leadership," The Journal of American History Vol. 80, No. 3 (December 1993): 989-998.
    "The Freedman?s Bureau: The End of the Great Benevolent
    Institution of War," New York Times, June 27, 1872, 5
  • Works Cited (2)

    "Civil War Timeline 1860-1865." CivilWarWiki. N.p., 28 Feb 2009. Web. 27 May 2013
    Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas A. Bailey.
    The American Pageant: A History of the Republic. 12th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002
    All pictures retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org