Civil War/The Reconstruction Era

The American Civil War


Before the bloody"War Between the States" broke out, abolitionists began to speak out against slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" which exposed the horrors of slavery. Sojourner Truth spoke out against slavery by giving speeches like her "Ain't I a Woman". Fredrick Douglas gave speeches about slavery as well as writing an audio-biography called "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave". Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape from the South to get to Canada to freedom. William Lloyd Garrison's book "The Liberator" also exposed how evil slavery was. After the Abolitionist Movement ended, the Civil War started to be fought between the Northern and South states over the issues of state's rights and slavery. The Union (North) wanted to abolish slavery, and keep the country together. However, the Confederacy (South) wanted to break away from the United States, and wanted slavery to continue to be legal. Since both sides couldn't agree on the slavery issue, the South ended up breaking away from the Union. The South then formed the Confederate States of America. Sadly, it would take five bloody and long years for the United States to be united again.

Important People

Abraham Lincoln- 16th president, author of the Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation, freed the slaves, wanted the Union to stay together, and is the Northern president.

John Brown- Abolitionist who led a raid on Harper's Ferry.

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry

Fredrick Douglas- African American, an escape slave, and an abolitionist.

Harriet Beecher Stowe- author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (which tells about the evils of slavery), and an abolitionist.

Sojourner Truth- African American abolitionist, and was an escape slave. She also spoke out against slavery.

Harriet Tubman- African American, escape slave, led escaped slaves using the Underground Railroad to Canada, abolitionist.

Ulysses S. Grant- Northern general.

George McClellan- Northern general.

William T. Sherman- Northern general.

Jefferson Davis- Southern president.

Robert E. Lee- surrendered to Grant, and a southern general.

John Wilkes Booth- assassinated Lincoln, and is from the South.

George Pickett- Southern general.

General "Stonewall" Jackson- Southern general.

Andrew Johnson- Lincoln's Vic-President, becomes 17th president of USA when Lincoln dies.

Clara Barton- Founder of the Red Cross, and she nursed soldiers on both sides during the war.

Dred Scott- lived as a freeman, but the court decided he was a slave.

Who vs. Who?

Union, the North, or Yankees

. Wanted the South to stay with the United States

. Wore blue uniforms

. Flag: Stars and Stripes

. Didn't like slavery

. Leader: President Abraham Lincoln

South, or Confederacy

. Wore grey uniforms

. Flag: Stars and Bars

. Liked slavery

. Succeeded from the Union

. Leader: President Jefferson Davis


. Eli Witney's 1793 Cotton Gin made cotton production easier, but increased the growth of slavery in the Southern plantation.

. Manifest Destiny- As the U.S. gained more territory, the question of whether or not to declare states free or slave led to conflict.

.The North and South had different views on slavery.

. Missouri Compromise (Compromise of 1820) - Main entered the Union as a free state, while Missouri entered as a slave state. An imaginary line divided the North and South at the 36, 30 degree parallel.Outlawed slavery north of the 36 30 parallel.

. Compromise of 1850— California was allowed as a free state. Declared a stricter Fugitive Slave Act. Distributed balance of states since there were 15 free and 15 slave states.

. Fugitive Slave Act made it legal for runaway slaves to be returned to their masters.

. Kansas-Nebraska Act- Repealed Compromise of 1820, and allowed citizens to determine if states be be slave or not. This is Stephen A. Douglas's idea of popular sovereignty. Citizens who were either pro or anti-slave went to Kansas to convince people to join their side. It was up to the idea of popular sovereignty to decide on what side Kansas should join. As a result, Kansas entered the union as a free state.

. Dred Scott v. Sanford- In 1857, a slave named Dred Scott was taken to Illinois (free state) and the Wisconsin Territory. However, slavery was outlawed in these parts of the U.S by the Missouri Compromise which was passed in 1820. In other words, Scott was brought to a free state while continuing to be a slave. As a result, he took his case to the Supreme Court which declared slaves to not be citizens of the U.S., so Scott was still property.

. Election of 1860- Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery, and the South became upset about it. As a result, the South succeeded from the United States to organize the Confederate States of America.

. John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry- Brown gave slaves guns to start a revolt, and as a result he was captured, and hung.

. Lincoln's House Divided Speech.

. Immediate Spark: Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina which marked the beginning of the Civil War.

The United States during the Civil War (dark blue represents states that joined the Union, the light blue states were border states, and grey represents states that joined the Confederacy.)

The Civil War Begins

On April 12, 1861, the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter, South Carolina and fought the Union. All day, there were shots fired from both sides until the Union ran out of bullets. As a result, the Union surrendered which marked the start of the Civil War. Also, four more Southern states would soon succeed from the Union.

Important Events during the War

"The Anaconda Plan": 1861

In 1861, a military figure named Winfield Scott came up with the Anaconda Plan. This was strategy that the Union used in order to win the Civil War. There were four parts to it which were: to establish a blockade in the Confederacy in order to prevent exporting goods, control the Mississippi River, capture the Tennessee River Valley and go through Georgia, and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond.

The First and Second Battles of Bull Run

First Battle of Bull Run: July 21, 1861

Second Battle of Bull Run: August 28-30, 1862

On July 21, 1861 the Union and Confederacy for the first time fought hand- hand with guns in Virginia. Fighting went on for a day, and ended with a Confederate victory. The battle showed proved that both sides needed training. In addition, southern general Stonewall Jackson ordered Confederate troops to close the Union army lines. As a result, one general said "Look, men, there is Jackson standing like a stone wall!" Ever since then, Thomas Jackson would forever be known as "Stonewall" Jackson. However, no one knew that there would be a Second Battle of Bull Run. In 1862, Union and Confederate troops met again in Virginia to fight the Second Battle of Bull Run. This time, the two armies fought for a few bloody days, and soon the Confederates were victorious again.

The Battle of Shiloh ( Battle of Pittsburg Landing)

April 6-7, 1862

Prior to the Battle of Shiloh, Union general Ulysses S. Grant's Union army won some victories against General Albert Sidney Johnson, and his Confederate army. The Confederates were then forced to gather at Corinth (located in the southern state of Mississippi). Grant wanted Corinth because it had an important rail center. Grant realized that if Union forces gained the rail center then it would give them absolute control over the region. Then on April 6, 1862 the Confederates launched a surprise attack which pushed the Yankees back toward the Shiloh Church. After this on April 7, Union forces counterattacked which only resulted in the Confederate army retreating. Grant's army finally pushed Johnson's army back to Shiloh Church which marked the end of the battle in favor of the Union.

The Battle of Antietam

September 17, 1862

The Battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day during the Civil War where Union troops under the command of General George B. McClellan, and Confederate troops under the command of General Robert E. Lee met at Antietam Creek in Maryland. McClellan was put in charge by President Lincoln to defend Washington D.C. against the Confederate forces. The Union general discovered Lee's plan to win the battle, and as a result McClellan's forces won the battle after pushing the Confederates to the South. After this battle, the war started to be fought over the issue of slavery rather then preserving the union. President Lincoln started drafting the Emancipation Proclamation which would be issued the following year.

The Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, "The Great Liberator" Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This document freed slavery in the Southern states only. Before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln believed that the Constitution allowed for slavery to remain legal. However, he didn't like slavery and felt that the federal government had the right to block slavery from spreading. Lincoln didn't free the slavery sooner, because he didn't want the slave border states to leave the Union.

The Siege of Vicksburg

May 18, 1863- July 4, 1863

Before the Siege of Vicksburg, Grant's army took over Vicksburg, Mississippi unsuccessfully. However, he would try to take over the city again by having his forces build trenches. The Confederate army would then be trapped inside the perimeter which would result in a Union victory. The Union army would also take control of the city as well.

The Battle of Gettysburg, and "The Gettysburg Address"

July 1- July 3, 1863

In 1863, the Union and Confederacy fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Fighting occurred for three hot days, and many troops on both sides died every day. The Battle of Gettysburg was the second bloodiest battle in U.S. history. On the third day of the battle, Lee ordered Confederate general George Pickett to march through enemy gun fire in order to attack the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Confederate army charged at the Union, but most of Pickett's men were shot dead. This event is known as Pickett's Charge. The battle ended with the Union being victorious, and this helped push the Northern army to victory. Then in November, 1863, President Lincoln went to Gettysburg and gave his most famous speech: "The Gettysburg Address". This speech honored those who fought during the battle and the war.

The Battle of Gettysburg

Nursing in the bloody Civil War

Several nurses took care of soldiers who were on the Union or Confederacy. Several of painful amputations were done a day, and lots of blood was shown every single day in the Civil War. The most famous nurse during this time was Clara Barton. Clara Barton cured lots of solders from both sides every single day. She also distributed supplies to nurses who need them as well. However, after the Civil War, Clara Barton founded the America Red Cross.

Advantages for the Union and the Confederacy

Advantages for the Union

. More factories to produce war materials

. Rail system was twice as large as the Confederate's

. Most banks and cash

Advantages for the Confederacy

. Better military leaders

. Most of the war was fought on Southern terrain

. More skilled horseman and riflemen

The Election of 1864

The Civil War was in its fourth year, and 1864 was an election year. Lincoln said “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” During this election, Abraham Lincoln picked a Southern Democrat named Andrew Johnson to be his Vic President for the Republican nominee in order to get the Southern votes. However, the Democratic candidate was war hero George B. McClellan. This election was a very close, but Lincoln was reelected.

The Surrendering and Assassination

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. A few days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union, Abraham Lincoln went to Fort's Theater to see the play Our American's Cousin on April 14, 1865. A southern actor named John Wilkes Booth heard that Lincoln was going to Ford's Theater, and planned to assassinate the president. At 10pm, Lincoln's body guards left Ford's Theater to go have a drink. However, Booth then entered the theater, and sunk into the presidential box which was where Lincoln was sitting. Booth then shot Lincoln and escaped the theater. Sadly, Lincoln died the next day, and his killer John Wilkes Booth got shot by Sergeant Boston Corbett in a barn on April 26, 1865.

Surrender at Appomattox Court House

Effects of the Civil War

. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed abolishing slavery.

. The United States was united again.

. Reconstruction of the South began.

. The South passed laws which restricted black people's freedom.

The Reconstruction Era


The Reconstruction Era refers to the period when the Southern states were beginning to rebuild after the bloody Civil War. Often times, historians divide the Reconstruction Era into two periods. Reconstruction which took place from 1865-1866, and was controlled by the presidents. However, the period of Radical Reconstruction took place from 1866-1877, and was controlled by Congress. Radical Reconstruction was also controlled by the Radical Republicans. During this period, the Southern states had a negative view towards African Americans. As a result, the states made unfair laws that took certain freedoms away from blacks. In addition, the states kept black and white people separate (segregation). However, the nation was faced with two problems: one having the South accept that they were part of the United States, and two the treatment of black people. As a result, several federal laws were passed which tried to limit the South from being racist towards the African Americans. However, the laws didn't do much, and the black people continued to fight for equal rights.

Important People

President Andrew Johnson- Lincoln's Vic-president, and became president when Lincoln died. First president to be impeached, and was president during the Reconstruction Era. Vetoed lots of laws, and didn't think African Americans should vote.

President Ulysses S. Grant- Enforced the Enforcement Acts, and his administration was clouded with scandals.

President Rutherford B. Hayes- president during the end of Reconstruction. Fought to get civil-rights laws passed.

Ku Klux Klan (KKK) - White extremist group that hated African Americans. Used violence against African Americans.

Edwin Stanton- Criticized Johnson for his plan of what to do with the South. Stanton got fired by Johnson. Served as Secretary of War under former President Lincoln.

Booker T. Washington- Former slave, wrote audio biography "Up from Slavery", leader of black school called the Tuskegee Institute, and leader of Black America.

W.E.B. DuBois- writes "The Soul of Black Folk", wrote the newspaper "The Crisis", believed in the talented 10.

The Presidential Plan

Before President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, he passed the 10 % Plan (Proclamation of Amnesty) in 1863. The plan declared three things: Southern states could be admitted back into the Union if 10% of the states swore a loyalty pledge, everyone except the Confederate officers and military leaders that were high ranked were pardoned, and to ensure African American freedoms weren't "stepped on", all the southern states needed to come up with a plan to ensure that black people's freedoms weren't going to be "stepped on". Once Lincoln was assassinated, his vice president Andrew Johnson assumed office. Johnson and Lincoln were generous to the South, but later the Radical Republicans would treat the South differently. Presidents Lincoln and Johnson also treated the newly free slaves equally.

Voting Restrictions

African Americans' had their voting rights restricted. The Southern states passed laws to ensure that blacks had to take a literacy test, pay a poll tax, and pass the grandfather clause. The literacy tests tested one's ability to read. This test was hard to pass, because several ex slaves were illiterate. African Americans found it hard to pay a poll tax, because many of them were extremely poor after the Civil War. Finally, African Americans had to pass the grandfather clause which was the hardest of all the restrictions to pass. Blacks were asked if their grandfathers were slaves, and if they answered yes, then the person who answered couldn't vote. All three restrictions ensured that only a few blacks voted.

Black Codes and the Civil Rights Act of 1866

Black Codes were laws that the southern states past which took away black people's rights. There were three Black Codes laws that were past. First was the Vegerency Law. This law gave white people the right to arrest innocent homeless African Americans who didn't have a job. Blacks would receive the option to work for white people in order to get out of prison. In most cases, blacks would take this opportunity to get out of jail. The second law were the unfair working contracts. These contracts made African Americans work in unfair conditions. The last law was the Cerfew Law which prevented blacks from being in the streets after the sun set. Blacks would continue to be discriminated against even after Reconstruction, and up to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s-1960s. After the Black Codes were passed, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which protected African Americans from the unequal laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 also said that all people who were born in America are citizens.

Radical Reconstruction

The second stage of Reconstruction began in 1866 and ended in 1877, and was controlled by Congress and the Radical Republicans. The Radical Republicans passed a law called the Freedman's Bureau. The Freedmen's Bureau's job was to help former slaves with getting an education, finding land, and legal assistance. The Wade-Davis Bill was also passed which appointed military governors in each of the Confederate states. However, unlike Lincoln and Johnson, the Radical Republicans wanted the south to pay for causing the Civil War. As a result, the Radical Republicans passed the Military Reconstruction (Reconstruction Act) in 1867. The Reconstruction Act divided the Confederacy up into five military districts which were under Union control.

Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and Sharecropping

After the bloody Civil War ended, northerner's who moved to the south during Reconstruction were called Carpetbaggers. Scalawags was a name given to the southerns who supported Reconstruction as well. The system of sharecropping was the south's farming system that was first used during the Reconstruction Era.

Carpetbagger political cartoon

The Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow Laws

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was a white supremacy group that was formed in Tennessee in the year 1866. The KKK used violence in order to terrorize African Americans. The KKK did everything to ensure white supremacy by burning houses down, killing citizens, sent death threats, attacked homes, etc. While there aren't many KKK members today, the organization still exists today. While the KKK terrorized people, the southern states passed the Jim Crow Laws which separated whites and blacks in public settings.

Example of the Jim Crow Laws

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

Throughout the Reconstruction Era, President Andrew Johnson vetoed several laws that Congress passed. Congress however overrode several bills that he vetoed, which led to Congress passing the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. The law told the president that he cannot remove government officials from office. In order to test the law, President Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from office. After this, the House of Representatives charged him with "high crimes and misdemeanors". The House then voted to impeach the president, and the Senate held his trial. As a result, President Andrew Johnson became the first president to face impeachment. However, the trial fell one vote short in the Senate.

Impeachment Trial

Ulysses S. Grant's Administration

President Ulysses S. Grant succeeded President Johnson after he was impeached. Grant proved to be a terrible leader with an administration full of corruption and turmoil. Grant was involved in so many scandals which made his popularity decrease. However, Grant and Congress passed the Enforcement (Force)Acts which made the federal government control voting in south. Federal troops were sent to the south in order to protect African Americans (from the KKK) so they could vote. As a result, Grant "took the wind" out of the klan which resulted in the KKK members decreasing.

The Election of 1876

During the Election of 1876, Democratic nominee was Samuel Tilden, and the Republican nominee was Rutherford B. Hayes. South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana all competed to get the right candidate's votes. As a result, Tilden won the popular vote, but lost in the Electoral College. The three states that are listed above wanted Tilden to win the election. However, the Compromise of 1877 made a deal with South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Hayes promised that is these three states voted for him, Hayes would end Reconstruction, and withdraw Union troops out of the South. South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana all voted for Hayes.

Booker T. Washington-The "Leader" of Black America

Booker T. Washington played a key part in the early birth of black equality. Washington was a former slave who led an all black school in Alabama called the Tuskegee Institute. He held the belief that education was needed in order to obtain a job and once you are able to support yourself, then you can be treated fairly. In 1895, Washington wrote his life experience of being a slave in an audio biography called "Up from Slavery" (this book is still around today). In 1901, Washington became the first African American to ever receive an invite to dinner by a president (President Theodore Roosevelt invited him). In the same year, he gave a wrote a speech called "Atlanta Compromise" which he talked about how blacks have to except the Supreme Court ruling of "separate but equal"( see "Supreme Court Cases" for more on the "separate but equal" ruling) , but equality would take a while to achieve.

W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois was very different from Booker T. Washington. Unlike Washington, DuBois was born in the North as a freeman. He was one of the first African Americans to ever have graduated from Harvard University. Enemies with Washington, DuBois felt it was important to stand up for what one believed in. He wrote the book "The Souls of Black Folk" and founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.). DuBois wrote the NAACP's newspaper "The Crisis" as well. He also believed in the Talented Ten which is when 10% of the black population will lead the U.S. and will eventually destroy racism. Then, the other 90% would soon follow.

The Effects of Reconstruction

. The 14th Amendment was passed which guaranteed that African Americans are citizens of the U.S.

. The 15th Amendment was passed which guaranteed African American MEN the right to vote.

. African Americans continued to be discriminated against, and people were still racist towards them as well.

. The KKK still terrorized black people up to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's.

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