Historical Events from 1844 to 1877

  • Joseph Smith killed

    Killed in Carthage, Illinois when a mob broke into the jail cell he had been imprisoned in while facing indictments for the charges of perjury and polygamy.
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    Know-Nothing Party

    A U.S. political party that flourished in the 1850s that was an outgrowth of the strong anti-immigrant and especially anti-Roman Catholic sentiment that started to manifest itself during the 1840s, This party eventually combined with the Whigs to become a unified Republican Party.
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    California Gold Rush

    A mass movement that started with the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by James Wilson Marshall. The resulting influx of people looking for gold resulted in California's population skyrocketing from a couple thousand to 380,000 a decade later. The gold rush also set up a slew of racial problems, such as the mistreatment of Indians and Asians, and created large, disastrous economic effects.
  • Compromise of 1850

    A solution to the slavery issue proposed by Henry Clay to Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and Stephen Douglas. The comrpomise included five points: Texas would relinquish land and be compensated with $10 million to pay off Mexico; the territory from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo (New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah) would be free; slavery would be abolished in Washington D.C.; California would be admitted as a free state; and the a new Fugitive Slave Act was passed.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin published

    This novel by Harriet Breecher Stowe was instrumental in portraying the atrocities of slavery and galvinized the abolitionist movement. This book forever changed the way people (the North) viewed slavery and redoubled efforts to abolish it.
  • Matthew Perry opens Japan

    Negotiated a treaty with the following provisions: peace and friendship between the two countries; opening of two ports to American traders; aide for wrecked American ships/persons along the Japanese coast; and permissions for Americans to buy necessary provisions in Japanese ports. Also significant because America was the first to break Japan out of an isolationist policy that lasted over 500 years.
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    Bleeding Kansas

    A term used by Horace Greeley to describe the violent hostilities between pro and antislavery forces in the Kansas territory during the mid and late 1850s. While Nevada was admitted peaceably as a free state under the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, Kansas was not. Sensing pro-slavery hesitation, the North sent thousands of settlers to occupy Kansas, which angered the South. The whole conflict was resolved when Kansas became a free state in 1861.
  • Republican Party formed

    Began originally as the Whig party, which was created to oppose the "tyranny" of Andrew Jackson. After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, however, the Whigs became the Republicans. This party played an important role during the Civil War (Lincoln) and came to be known as the party of the North after the war. Also important since the party was known for freeing the slaves, they got the majority of the black vote.
  • Nebraska-Kansas Act passed

    Created by Stephen Douglas, this act proposed that the Nevada Territory be made into a state and, to balance the slave owners, Kansas be made into a slave state (even though it was above the Missouri Compromise Line). The decision was left up to the territories, but obviously the South supported this and the North fervently opposed it. This bill was so heated that it split the Whig party in two and continued to more embittered debates between the North and South, contributing to the Civil War.
  • Senator Charles Sumner assaulted

    Sumner was the leader of the atnislavery movement in Massachusetts and the Radical Republican party during the Civil War. In an 1856 speech against the Kansas-Nebkraska Act during the "Bleeding Kansas" crisis, he was assulted a few days later by Representative Preston Brooks as a result of what Sumner said about his cousin. This event highlights the polarization of America during this time (Sumner became a martyr to the North and Brooks a hero to the South) and contributed to lasting tensions.
  • Dred Scott v. Sanford Case Decision

    This court case, in which a slave challenged his deceased owner's heir to his property the right for his freedom, affirmed the right for slave owners to take their slaves into the Western terrioties (which were supposed to be free). Not only did this severely undermine the new Republican Party, but it also led to more regional tensions that eventually led to the Civil War.
  • Comstock Lode discovered

    Located in the Virginia Range in the Nevadan Mountains, the Comstock Lode was the first discovery ofsilver ore in the U.S. Like the gold rush, this disocvery led to a mass migration of miners and opportunists to Nevada in search of economic fortunes. This event also spurred the development and improvement of mining technology.
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    Utah War (Mormon/US War) averted

    The Utah War was one in which the opposing sides never fired a single shot at each other. The conflict began when the President sent Alfred Cumming to become the new governor of Utah because he didn't like the power Young had. Needless to say, Young and the Mormons saw this as a threat to their religion and "fought" back. Eventually Young peacefully turned over the government to Cumming.
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    Lincoln-Douglas debates

    The Lincoln Douglas Debates of 1858 were the first debates between US senate candidates in American history. Abraham Lincoln held his own against Stephen Douglas, who was the most important national politician of the decade, which explain why Lincoln benefited so much from all of this exposure. The substance of the debates, even with some rough moments and plenty of repetition, offer a snapshot of the fierce moral argument over slavery and represent a model for serious partisan engagement.
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    John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry

    Abolitionist John Brown lead a small group on a raid against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in an attempt to start an armed slave revolt and destroy the institution of slavery. Brown was eventually executed for treason, and this event made any negotiations between the North and South virtually impossible.
  • Abraham Lincoln elected President

    Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. The announcement of Lincoln's victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.
  • South Carolina seceeds

    No surprises that South Carolina, with their deep convictions to secession dating back to T. Jeff's Kentucy and Viriginia Resolutions of 1798 and their Ordinance of Nullification during the 1832 Nullification Crisis, was the first to secede. This encouraged other Southern states to secede as well, creating the Confederacy during the Civil War.
  • Fort Sumter attacked

    The attack on Fort Sumter was essentially the first battle of the Civil War. After the inauguration of Lincoln, he called for the men at Fort Sumter to be peacably released, but the South Carolinians refused. They fired on the fort, and the results of this battle convince other southern states to join the conflict. The Civil War had begun.
  • First Battle of Bull Run

    Bull Run signaled an end to the innocence and naïveté both sides had about the war. The Union defeat was a huge shock to the North, which had been sure of its massive military—and moral—advantage. Any hopes they had of a quick victory were dashed. Some in the South rejoiced over the triumph at Bull Run, which they felt proved that a Confederate soldier was the equal of any Union soldier, while others shared the feeling of most Northerners: that this was going to be a very long struggle.
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    Pensinsula Campaign

    The Peninsular Campaign aimed to hasten the end of the Civil War and the two men behind the military mission were President Lincoln and General McClellan. The goal was to take the capital city of the Confederacy, Richmond. The biggest prize of the entire war hinged in front of the Union army and the battle that was to begin was to be one of the greatest of all the war.
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    David Farragut Capture New Oreleans

    The capture of this vital southern city was a huge blow to the Confederacy. Southern military strategists planned for a Union attack down the Mississippi, not from the Gulf of Mexico. The capture of this vital southern city was a huge blow to the Confederacy. Southern military strategists planned for a Union attack down the Mississippi, not from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Homestead Act

    The Homestead Act of 1862, was one of the most significant and enduring events in the westward expansion of the United States. By granting 160 acres of free land to claimants, it allowed nearly any man or woman a chance to live the American dream. Lincoln created a method of westward expansion that would exist for the next 123 years and eventually be responsible for the settlement of over 270 million acres of the American landscape by the private domain.
  • Battle of Antietam

    The Battle of Antietam forced the Confederate Army to retreat back across the Potomac River. President Abraham Lincoln saw the significance of this and issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862.
  • Emancipation Proclamation

    A document that declared that "all persons held as slaves … shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free"—but it applied only to states designated as being in rebellion, not to the slave-holding border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri or to areas of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control. The only real effect this document had was repealing the North's obligation to abide by the Fugitive Slave Act.
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    Battle of Fredericksburg

    The Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, involved nearly 200,000 combatants, the largest concentration of troops in any Civil War battle. The results of the battle sent Union morale plummeting and lent much-needed new energy to the Confederate cause after the failure of Lee’s first invasion of the North at Antietam the previous fall.
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    Reconstruction Era

    A time after the Civil War in which pre-war antebellum reforms were basically reimplemented and practiced. Now that slavery was abolished and the 13th-15th Amendments were passed, the south strived to create a more equal and educated society. However, the one fo the many failures of Reconstruciton was that racism prevailed, the South's economy was crippled, violence prevents immigrants from migrating there, and the Democratic Party monopolized politics.
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    Siege of Vicksburg

    The Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, also called the Siege of Vicksburg, was the culmination of a long land and naval campaign by Union forces to capture a key strategic position during the American Civil War. Capturing Vicksburg would sever the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy from that east of the Mississippi River and open the river to Northern traffic along its entire length. This eventually resulted in a Union victory, which irrevacbly dvided the Confederacy in two.
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    Battle of Gettysburg

    Gettysburg was important becuase it was the turning point of the war (Lee's plan to invade the North and force it into submission failed) and Abraham Lincoln used this battle as a means to justify the cost of the war with Congress.
  • Grants becomes commander of Army of the Potomac

    The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Although Grant suffered severe losses during the campaign, it was a strategic Union victory. It inflicted proportionately higher losses on Lee's army and maneuvered it into a siege at Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia, in just over eight weeks.
  • Wade Davis Bill

    The Wade–Davis Bill of 1864 was a program proposed for the Reconstruction of the South written by two Radical Republicans, Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio and Representative Henry Winter Davis of Maryland. In contrast to President Abraham Lincoln's more lenient Ten Percent Plan, the bill made re-admittance to the Union for former Confederate states contingent on a majority in each Southern state to take the Ironclad oath to the effect they had never in the past supported the Confederacy.
  • Abraham Lincoln Reelected

    By 1864, the country was war weary and the Democratic Party's nominee, George McClellan, was likely to negotiate a peace treaty with the Confederacy if elected. No President had been reelected snce Andrew Jackson, but Lincoln clearly broke that cycle.
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    Sherman's March to the Sea

    From November 15 until December 21, 1864, Union General William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. The purpose of this “March to the Sea” was to frighten Georgia’s civilian population into abandoning the Confederate cause. Sherman’s soldiers did not destroy any of the towns in their path, but they stole food and livestock and burned the houses and barns of people who tried to fight back.
  • Chivington (Sand Creek) Massacre

    Prior to the event, tensions between Native Americans and western settlers had been festering as the Indians grew tired of transferring their lands to whites. This situation boiled over in the Chivington Masscare, in which western colonists murdered, scalped, and disembowled 800 Cheyene Indians in the Colorado territory. Naturally, the natives retailiated and contributed to the brutal conflict. This would eventually lead to the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868.
  • Lee surrenders to Grant

    On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in the rural town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The terms agreed to by General Lee and Grant and accepted by the Federal Government would become the model used for all the other surrenders which shortly followed.
  • Lincoln assassinated

    Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, was the first American president to be assassinated. Booth murdered Lincoln because he thought it would aid the South, which had just surrendered to Federal forces. It had nearly the opposite effect, ending Lincoln's plans for a rather generous peace.
  • 13th Amendment Ratified

    The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially abolished slavery in America, and was ratified on December 6, 1865, after the conclusion of the American Civil War.
  • Johnson vetoes Freedman's Bureau Bill

    Johnson vetoes a bill calling for the extension of the Freedmen's Bureau. The bill, a response to the repressive black codes of the South, would expand the power of the Bureau, the organization formed for the freedmen's protection.
  • Andrew Johnson impeached

    he trial, convened by the Senate on March 5, focused on issues surrounding Johnson's post-Civil War Reconstruction policy and, more specifically, his firing of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Johnson became the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives when, in February 1868, the Republican-controlled House charged the Democrat Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for "high crimes and misdemeanors."
  • Fort Laramine Treaty (Sioux Treaty of 1868)

    The Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) was an agreement between the United States and various bands native tribes. The treaty ended Red Cloud's War (1866–1867), established the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation, and protected Sioux hunting grounds and the sacred Black Hills from white encroachment. Other provisions of the Treaty of Fort Laramie served as agents of assimilation by trying to induce the Indians to take up farming, wear non-Indian cloothing, and educate their children.
  • 14th Amendment Ratified

    In 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War, including them under the umbrella phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”
  • Grant elected President

    Ulysses S. Grant, the Union hero of the Civil War, was elected in 1868, the last U.S. president to have been a slave owner. Grant, like his presidential predecessors, didn't view the Southern people as the enemy. The problem was that most white Southerners didn't want to be Reconstructed, and many Northerners wanted the South punished - not restored. People on both sides were unsure about what kind of rights should be given to blacks.
  • 15th Amendement Ratified

    The 15th Amendment guaranteed the right of all men to vote regardless of race.
  • KKK Act passed

    After 1870, Republican state governments in the South turned to Congress for help, resulting in the passage of three Enforcement Acts, the strongest of which was the KKK Act of 1871. The KKK Act designated certain crimes committed by individuals as federal offenses and authorized the president to suspend the writ of habeas and arrest accused individuals without charge, and to send federal forces to suppress Klan violence.
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    Panic of 1873

    The Panic of 1873 stands as the first global depression brought about by industrial capitalism. Thousands of American companies defaulted on over a billion dollars in debt, nine out of 10 U.S. railroad concerns failed, and the country faced double-digit unemployment for over a decade. The worst effects of the downturn (unemployment, homelessness, malnutrition) were concentrated in the industrial sectors, but every region suffered and the economy continued to sputter.
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    Battle of Little Bighorn

    The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also called Custer’s Last Stand, marked the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. The demise of Custer and his men outraged many white Americans and confirmed their image of the Indians as wild and bloodthirsty. Meanwhile, the U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue the tribes. Within five years, almost all of the Sioux and Cheyenne would be confined to reservations.
  • Hayes-Tilden Election

    The presidential contest of 1876 between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes resulted in a rightward political realignment within the ruling class in the face of rising class tensions. Hayes ended up winning. Southern Democrats threatened rebellion over what they saw as a stolen election, forcing a deal to placate them. The deal is often referred to as "The Compromise of 1877."
  • Posse Comitatus Act

    The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, still in effect, was passed to prevent U.S. military personnel from acting as law enforcement agents on U.S. soil.