Civil War (1861-1865)
Click on the words highlighted in brown for more information.
1861 In a letter to William Seward, President Lincoln declares:
1861 The Civil War begins when rebels fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
1861 South Carolina and ten other southern states secede from the Union to form the Confederate States of America.
1863 January - President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect. It grants freedom to all enslaved people in rebellious states.
1863 New York Draft Riots. The riots are the worst civil disturbance in American history. White mobs fearful of a flood of freedmen workers attack free African Americans, Republican Party buildings, and army recruiting stations.
1864 Some Confederate Generals vow to kill any African American Union soldiers captured in the war. At the Battle of Fort Pillow in Tennessee, 300 surrendered African Americans are massacred.
1864 President Lincoln vetoes the Wade-Davis Reconstruction Bill, which proposes harsh penalties on the South if a Union victory was achieved.
1864 The Sand Creek Massacre. Colorado troops attack Cheyenne Indians encamped on Sand Creek under the promised protection of Fort Lyon. Up to 500 Native Americans, mostly women and children, are murdered.
1865 March - Congress establishes the Freedmen's Bureau to feed, treat, shelter, and house the 4 million formerly enslaved people of the Confederacy.
1865 April - President Lincoln is assassinated. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes President.
1865 December - The 13th Amendment is ratified, legally abolishing slavery in the United States.
During this time, reform-minded Republicans sought to insure that the newly freed slaves enjoyed the same measure of equality and opportunity that white Americans enjoyed. Through their control of the Congress, the Republican Party initiated programs designed to accomplish these ends. In 1865 and 1866, Congress funded the Freedman's Bureau to feed, clothe, and protect the ex-slaves and passed civil rights acts to outlaw varied forms of segregation. In addition, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) to outlaw slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) to extend federal citizenship to blacks, and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) to protect the black man's right to vote. Congress backed up these efforts with the passage of a comprehensive Civil Rights Act in 1875.
Did You Know?
In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court institutionalized the “separate but equal” policy with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision.--Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site More...