Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park


Welcome back everyone. My name is Chris Young, and I'm one of the park rangers here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. I'm also the park's education coordinator. Hopefully, you've joined us for the the two previous segments of this three-part series, the Causes of the Civil War, and then the Civil War itself. Today, we're going to conduct a brief overview of Reconstruction, primarily in Tennessee and really focusing on Georgia's reconstruction. So, what I want us to do is is really find out where we left off. As we were leaving the Civil War section, we talked about Andrew Johnson ascending to the presidency after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. So, Johnson becomes president in 1865, in April of 65, and he is going to be the president for the beginning of Reconstruction. So, what is Reconstruction? Let's talk about that. What is it? It's a time of major political, cultural, and social change following the Civil War. After the death and destruction that came as a result of the Civil War, society was kind of upended, especially here in the South, in states like Georgia, where we are right now, because of the social order of things. Slavery, what's going to happen to that? What's what's going to happen to the 4 million enslaved people who have now seemingly been emancipated as a result of the American Civil War? So, there's a lot of upheaval. What about the the political standing of individuals in the South that supported secession, or supported the Confederate government? Reconstruction officially lasts from 1865 to 1877, and what I want us to look at are three specific Reconstruction phases, or plans. What I want us to look at first is the Presidential Reconstruction Plan, and that lasts from 1865 to 1866. President Johnson was going to be extremely lenient on the Southern states in this. His plan is based on that of Abraham Lincoln, where he would allow Southern states readmission to the Union if 10% of those Southern states' populations swore an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. However, in addition to 10% of the population of a state doing that, you also, as a state, had to ratify the 13th Amendment to the United States, and that amendment is the one that is going to to abolish slavery within the United States. Do you know which state was the last to ratify the 13th amendment? If you said Georgia, you're right. Georgia is the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. So, we have this 10% of the population needing to sign amnesty oaths. We also are requiring that the 13th Amendment be ratified by states for readmission to the Union. Trouble's going to be brewing though, because of former Confederates who are being elected back into state and national government. So, here are Confederates who possibly have taken the amnesty oath, who are individuals, who are being elected, re-elected, who have been leaders prior to the Civil War, who have been elected leaders during the Civil War supporting Confederate secession, or state secession, and supporting the Confederacy that are being re-elected into prominent positions in the state and federal government. Radical Republicans were aghast by this. They were appalled by it, and they refused to seat them. There are going to be huge issues with the refusal of seating congressmen and senators in Washington, DC, because they had supported the Confederacy, and also at this time, President Johnson is coming under increased scrutiny and is going to be impeached and charged with the with abuse of power at that time. So, that's something else that's that's happening in the national government that we need to look at, and I'll encourage you to go and take a look deeper into the impeachment of President Johnson. With the Republicans being appalled by the South's treatment of freedmen, those are the men, women, and children who were once enslaved that have been freed as a result of the Civil War, because of the passage of state laws that were known as Black Codes, and these would these codes, these laws would keep African Americans from being allowed to vote, to testify against whites in court, or to even serve as jurors on courts, and so because of the appalling nature of these codes, Congress introduces the 14th Amendment, which is going to give citizenship, the right of citizenship, to African-Americans. So, it's going to put them in a certain social standing within the United States. So, that is going to be kind of the ending of Presidential Reconstruction. We have Johnson, who's going to to be impeached, we're going to have the 14th Amendment be passed and be sent to the states, and that's going to lead us into Congressional Reconstruction. As Congress begins to take this over. Because of states' refusals to ratify the 14th Amendment, Congress is going to act during this Congressional Reconstruction period from 1866 to 1867. Southern states were not going to be allowed, now, to be readmitted to the Union unless they pass the 14th Amendment. So, it was the 13th Amendment, because of the Black Codes being passed, now Congress steps in and says you're not going to be readmitted unless the 14th Amendment is ratified within your state. Because of the continued refusal to ratify the amendment, along with the the rise of a terroristic organization called the Ku Klux Klan, that we'll visit later, Congress passes the Reconstruction Act in 1867, and what this Reconstruction Act is going to do, is it's going to divide the South into five military districts. So, the military is going to have control over these districts now and oversee Reconstruction within those districts, and I'm going to put a map up right now for us to take a look at those districts and how they were drawn: District 1 is Virginia, District 2 is North Carolina and South Carolina, District 3 is Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, District 4 is Arkansas and Mississippi, and District 5 is Texas and Louisiana. Moving from the Congressional Reconstruction in 1867, we're going to go into the Military Reconstruction now. Because of Congress dividing the Southern states into these districts and giving military oversight, we begin the Military Reconstruction phase, which is from 1867 to 1877. General John Pope, who was a Union general during the American Civil War, who you can see here, served as the Third District's first military governor. The Third Military District is going to be, if you remember, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. There was also a constitutional convention that was called and held in the city of Atlanta. Why was it in Atlanta? Atlanta is not the capital yet, but because it was more accepting to the Republican delegates, as well as the 37 African-American delegates that had been elected to serve in the convention, it was chosen as the city to hold this constitutional convention to rewrite the Georgia constitution. So, Georgia creates a new constitution that includes a provision for African-American voting, for public schools, and for moving the capitol from Milledgeville, Georgia, where it was, to Atlanta, where it continues to be today. After the convention ends, Republican Rufus Bullock, who's shown here, is going to be elected governor, and the general assembly now begins under this new constitution. The military continues to be a presence in the state of Georgia due to the continued actions and violence of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as Georgia's refusal, now, to pass the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives African-American men the right to vote. So, it's been a struggle for every one of these amendments to be passed. This is going to lead Georgia to not be readmitted until 1870, when it's going to reinstate Republican and black legislators who voted for the passage of the 15th Amendment. It's not going to be, let me reiterate this, until Republican and African-American legislators are going to be brought back into the general assembly of Georgia, that the state will be readmitted in 1870, five years after the Civil War, when they ratify the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. However, by 1872, Republican control of the governorship and the general assembly in Georgia begins to loosen as Democrats are being voted back into office and back into power in those positions, and so, Reconstruction is going to lose some of its force because of those Democrats being re-elected back into those positions in the state. I want us to take a look at the video that was put together by the American Battlefield Trust, and it's really great at looking at the heart of these three amendments that were passed during the beginning of Reconstruction. So, I want to take a look at this video for a few moments.

The Civil War Amendments, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments, are the three amendments that will come out immediately after the American Civil War. The 13th Amendment will end slavery and indentured servitude throughout the United States, while the 14th Amendment will guarantee the right of citizenship. It'll also go further to overrule the Dred Scott decision, which essentially said that African- Americans could not be citizens of the United States, and it will correct the Three-Fifths Compromise that was put together in the founding days of the American Republic. The 15th Amendment will grant voting rights to newly freed African- Americans who have just broken the bondage of slavery. Collectively, these three amendments, the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th, will be landmark decisions, but some aspects will be overruled later by the Supreme court. Plessy v. Ferguson, which will establish the Separate but Equal Clause throughout the United States, is a step back, but a step forward will be Brown v. the Board of Education, which will help overrule Plessy v. Ferguson and helps to start to integrate schools in the United States and then eventually the Voting Rights Act of 1965, nearly 100 years after the adoption of the 15th Amendment, will truly secure voting rights for African-Americans throughout the United States. While the Civil War amendments were important in their time, it's important to remember that there was still much work to be done during and past the Reconstruction Era. Welcome back. Hopefully, we learned a little bit more about those Reconstruction Amendments. What I want us to do is focus beyond those three Reconstruction Plans and move toward two of the major groups that are involved during Reconstruction. First, I want us to talk about the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, what we call the Freedmen's Bureau today, and what was referred to then, shorthand, as the Freedmen's Bureau. So, it's created to assist African- Americans in their ability to adjust to their newly gained freedom as a result of the Civil War. It also is created to support poor whites throughout the South, and it's a program that provides food to whites and African-Americans alike, who are affected by the war. It also helps build Freedmen's schools and hospitals and supervise labor contracts and other legal disputes. So, if you had a contractual dispute with someone and you were a newly freed person, you could take that contractual dispute to the Freedmen's Bureau where it would be heard. Also, the bureau is going to be creating the first public schools in the state of Georgia, for either African-Americans or whites to attend. Some of the schools created by this bureau are going to continue to exist today. For example, two of Atlanta's Historical Black Colleges, Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College are two of those that were created during this time period that continue to exist today.

Here, locally in Chattanooga, you've probably heard of Howard School, at the base of Lookout Mountain. Howard School, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was named after General Oliver Otis Howard, who was the first commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau. So, in his honor, Howard School is going to be named. I want us to take a look now at an activity on a Georgia legislator,

an African-American legislator, who was removed and who was terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan, and Congress, as a result of terroristic attacks by the Klan, is going to form a committee that's going to take testimony from individuals who were the recipients of that those attacks, and one of those is going to be Abram Colby. Colby's going to go to Washington, and he's going to present this deposition and this testimony, and the testimony itself is going to be located, you can download that, where you clicked on this video. There's going to be a a link for you to be able to click on that testimony to pull it up and read that testimony, or you can print it out and and follow along. I'll also have a link there for questions so that you can can answer a few questions related to Colby's testimony before this Congressional committee. I'm going to also throw those questions up right now on the screen so that you have just a few minutes to look at those, if you wanted to write those down and not have to download or print those off. You can write these down quickly and answer those, but I want to go over those questions while they're up on the screen for you. First off, who's giving this testimony? We we've already kind of established that if you remember the person's name. Number two, when is this testimony given? So, what is the date or what is, what's the year that this testimony is given? There's a year that that this event occurred, and then, there is a year that the testimony or the deposition is given to the committee. Why is this person giving the testimony? Why is he doing it, and what object is he trying to achieve? What's going to be the outcome? What does he want to see achieved by giving this testimony? What attitudes about Reconstruction can you find in his testimony? So, what are his attitudes about Reconstruction? What does he feel about Reconstruction? Number five, what problems does this person mention that will have to be solved during Reconstruction? Does he mention any problems in this testimony, or this deposition, that need to be solved, or that need to be resolved, during Reconstruction, during these three planned periods? So, let's take just a few minutes to read this testimony. Let's kind of mull that over and answer these questions. You're more than welcome to share these with classmates. You're more than welcome to share these with your teacher, if you would like, as we we kind of grasp and grapple with the realities of what was occurring for the African-American community and their white allies during


So, let's move on to the group that is is conducting those terroristic attacks, and that's primarily going to be the Ku Klux Klan. I want us to watch this quick video about the Klan and its creation and what it evolves into during the Reconstruction Period. There are reenactments of the Klan members in their robes, on horseback. The film is going to be taken from Birth of a Nation, which can be kind of difficult to watch. So, I want to to give you a warning there. If you want to want to skip over this and come back after, you're more than welcome to do that, but I wanted to to throw that out there to you. So, let's watch this video of the Ku Klux Klan in its infancy.

The Ku Klux Klan originated in the wake of the nation's greatest trauma, the Civil War. In 1865, decommissioned Confederate officers in Pulaski, Tennessee, formed a fraternal social club. They called themselves the Ku Klux Klan, from the Greek word for circle - kuklos. It's essentially a club where they were going to pull pranks. They started to dress up in very elaborate costumes and go out and try to terrorize freed slaves. They would pose as Confederate officers come back from the dead. The story goes, they first did it innocently, and then, when they saw the reaction of the newly freed slaves, who were petrified, the word got around that they were having this effect, and that's when that version of the Klan became increasingly violent. The reality is is that the Klan of Reconstruction spent its time murdering people, throwing people off bridges, hanging them from trees. When the federal government clamped down in 1871, the Klan dissolved and lay dormant for decades.

Welcome back. I know that some of that may have been a little harsh to watch, but unfortunately, that's the reality of of the terrorism that was occurring to those newly freed men, women, and children and their white allies during Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan is going to be formed in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1867, and it's going to be very loosely governed, mainly containing members who were once Confederate soldiers, they're Confederate veterans now, and it's going to be basically a social club that's going to progressively become more and more political and violent as as it grows. Soon after its creation, the Klan begins to use terroristic actions to intimidate free blacks and white Republicans from voting, for running for offices. Those whites and those Northern whites who are going to come down here are either going to be listed as carpetbaggers or scalawags. Carpetbaggers are those individuals who have basically all of their belongings in a carpet sack, or carpet bag. So, think of a briefcase, or a bag, that's made out of carpet and everything you own is in that bag, and you're moving from the North and transplanting yourself into the South to maybe run for political office, to maybe open a business, but you're supporting Republican ideals in the South. You're going to be labeled as a carpetbagger. A scalawag is someone who's born in the South. They're natural born in one of the Southern states, and they are supporting Republican ideals, or Republicanism. So, they're going to be labeled as scalawags. They can't vote, they can't run for political office because of the Ku Klux Klan intimidating them as well. The use of tactics for these intimidation purposes are going to be physical violence. They're going to be even murder against African-Americans and and whites. The Ku Klux Klan, they tormented black organizations, such as Freedmen schools and churches in the hopes of establishing social control over African-Americans and their their white allies, and basically what they wanted is to to return to the status quo antebellum, the way that it was before the war. So, the antebellum period is before the Civil War, status quo is the way that it was. So, even though these African-Americans may not be enslaved because of the the three amendments to the Constitution, they wanted to still put them in a social order of being beneath those those whites in the south so they did this through intimidation through physical violence and even murder. The first iteration of the Ku Klux Klan, this 1867 creation, is going to be disbanded about 1871. Once Democrats begin to to regain political control over the state, and as Congress passes the Force Act of 1870 and the Civil Rights Act of 1871. So, as Democrats take control of those state governments again, it's going to be more in favor of those ex-confederates and the whites in the south, the elite whites, plus, you have the US Congress passing the Force Act of 1870 and the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The passage of these acts is going to authorize federal authority to fight and even arrest members of the Ku Klux Klan. So, now you have not just the military authority but you also have civil authority backed by these federal laws and acts that Klan members now can be arrested, and they can be tried. So, that first iteration of the Klan is going to disband about 1871 because of those two things. That's not the end of the Ku Klux Klan. As we probably know, the second iteration of the Klan is going to reoccur or is going to occur this the second iteration of the clan is going to occur in 1915, but that's another topic for another day. Hopefully, as we've gone over this, you've learned a little bit about Reconstruction and what was going on in Tennessee and specifically, here in Georgia, just real quickly, let's do an overview before we before we leave. Reconstruction, again, lasts between 1865 and 1877. It's a time of major political, cultural, and social change and upheaval after the Civil War. There are three Reconstruction Plans: Presidential Reconstruction, Congressional Reconstruction, and Military Reconstruction. During that time period, there are three amendments to the United States Constitution that specifically deal with freedmen, African-Americans who have been freed as a result of the Civil War -the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. We also focused on the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, the Freedmen's Bureau, and we discussed a little bit about what they were. We also discussed the Ku Klux Klan and that first iteration of the Klan and the tactics that they used to try to bring about social order again in the South the same way, or as close as they could, to the way that it was before the Civil War began. So, with that, hopefully, you've learned something that you did not know, or more than you knew, with these three segments that dealt with the Causes of the Civil War, the Civil War, and now with Reconstruction. We also hope that you'll use these videos multiple times and that that doesn't deter you from coming out to the park because we would really invite you once again, at some point when we can, to come back out to the park to participate in our programming, in person, here at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and with that, thank you for participating in these three different programs, or even if you participated in just one of them, we hope to see you again soon. Thanks very much.


This video supplements Reconstruction curriculum following the Georgia Performance Standards and the Tennessee State Standards.


28 minutes, 23 seconds



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