A Quick Reference to Reconstruction and the Future

Common Question about Dates and This History Class: Does having these dates in here mean students are expected to memorize them? The answer is “no.” To understand how things happened, you want to notice the order of events. Think of it this way: if you were watching two people fight, how you interpreted things would probably depend on who did what first.


Post-Civil War Shift to Power in the North, in the Federal Government, and in Industrialists

The Republican Party’s predecessor parties led it to have many of the issues previously associated with the Whigs, such as favoring internal improvements. They also countered the Whigs; for example, the Whigs were becoming nativist and the countermove was being pro-immigration. The X’s in the table are based on specific lists of platform issues in the Encyclopedia of American History. Other issues may also have been in the parties’ platforms.


Issues in the Campaigns of the Varied Anti-Slavery Parties


Free Soil


1840, 1844





Free soil (including specifics such as supporting the Wilmot Proviso)


Pro-internal improvements in general and/or a transcontinental railroad






Homestead provision so people could get land












Pro (somewhat) protective tariff








Republican – Democrat Votes in House and Senate

Once the 11 Confederate states left the Union, those remaining in the Senate and House of Representatives could vote for what they wanted without having to negotiate with those favoring Southern issues.


The change in party balance shows the results of secession: the Northern Senators and Congressmen can get the laws they want—and you’ll see below. The South will not have representatives and Senators until they are readmitted to the Union.





Senators, Democratic



Senators, Republican



Representatives, Democratic



Representatives, Republican




What Republican Legislation from 1861 to 1864 Set the Direction of the Post-Civil War Era?

The issues passed by these Senators and Representatives included:

§  1861—Increased protective tariff with subsequent additions through 1869 raising tariffs to the rate of just under 50% (Protective tariffs helped industrialists and became a Republican principle.)

§  1862 +—Transcontinental railroad established—land grants for a Northern route

§  1862—Homestead Act—160 acres of public land to heads of families for residence for five years, a small fee (In 1866 there was an equivalent act for Southern blacks, but its implementation was blocked by landowners short of labor in the South.)

§  1862—Land grant colleges (Morrill Act)—30,000 acres to states in the Union for each Congressional office held (Senator or Representative) to establish agriculture colleges (70 established)

§  1864—National banking system—uniform currency, with a tax on state bank notes driving them out of circulation (greenbacks again backed by gold in mid-1870s)

Timeline: Phases of Reconstruction to the Beginning of the Gilded Age – April 1865 to 1877




Reminder: Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse (VA)


Reminder: 13th amendment ended slavery¾passed (not yet ratified by the states.


What do former slaves do? Seek family separated from them. In the future, they form churches and schools.


Andrew Johnson, former Vice-President, a “War Democrat” – His plan for restoration of the Union

§  Premise—Like Lincoln’s plan, the states never left the Union

§  Presidential control like Lincoln’s plan but he is lenient to white supremacists, such as those writing “black codes.”


Black Codes¾New state legislatures started passing. Vagrancy laws forced employment with private individuals to pay fines; forbidden to rent or own land, could not change jobs, could not do work other than as farm or domestic labor.


Tip on the History:

§  Where have you heard the name black codes or a similar name?

§  Ask yourself how you would feel when you heard this if you’d had a son or brother die for the Northern cause or if you were a Congressman?



13th amendment¾ratified

Johnson - Per his plan, 10 states ready for restoration.


Ku Klux Klan started

Intent white supremacy; used violence, continued past 1869, when officially disbanded.

1866 +

Congressional Reconstruction had been:

§  Congressional control

§  50 % legal voters took oath of allegiance accepting end of slavery


Tip on the History: Notice the percentage (It’s not the 10% as with Lincoln’s offer or Johnson’s offer.)
Do the math on the years: how long has it been since the Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse? How are the North and South acting thus far?



Actions by the national government in the South using the Freedman’s Bureau—freedmen and abandoned lands—included education program


Actions by individual and groups of African Americans in the South: formation of churches and schools.



Civil Rights Act¾Congress overrode Johnson veto. – Congress moves from a law to an amendment. Why?


14th amendment started with ratification required for readmission—Tennessee ratified and was readmitted to Union.

Key provisions that remain significant today:

-       Those born in the United States are citizens. (Deals with Dred Scott case.)

-       States cannot violate “due process of law” – laws like the “black codes” (The 5th amendment had said Congress could not.)


Provisions that mattered then and the 14th amendment stopped:

-       The South had been trying to pay the Confederate war debt

-       The South had been electing Confederates who had previously made an oath to support the Constitution.


Question: What’s the Southern expectation? Why not join in?    Because other Southern states thought Radical Republicans would be defeated with the Congressional elections; they were wrong.



Race riots against blacks, New Orleans and Memphis


Tip on the History:  What is a riot?



Congressional ElectionsNorthern public furious and elect a large enough majority of Republicans that Johnson could not veto the laws they pass.


Tip on the History: What had the voters been reading in the newspapers in the North about the events in the South? So what kind of Congressman do you think the voters in the North vote for?


1867 +

Congressional Reconstruction becomes:

§     First Reconstruction Act

§     Military Reconstruction (5 districts) – military rule

§     Expansion of Freedman’s Bureau


Requires new state constitutions (without “black codes”) and that the states ratify the 14th Amendment, not just the 13th.



Fifteenth Amendment proposed - Consequences on women’s suffrage and women’s organizations

1868-02 to 05

Impeachment of Johnson —Viewed as impediment to Radical Republicanism. Method used: Tenure of Office Act—In brief, those Senate approved must be Senate removed. 1 vote saved Johnson.


U.S. Grant v. Horatio Seymour -   Waving the bloody shirt (a Republican technique beyond 1868) v. white supremacy


Promontory, Utah - Union Pacific & Central Pacific. – This is the Northern route for the transcontinental railroad.


Election violence and Grant sends troops—and federal troops are still stationed in the South.


Grant urges Congress to act to stop a revival of the KKK. Ku Klux Klan Acts work and federal marshals are sent in. 13 volumes of Congressional testimony taken on the KKK.



Department of Justice established; head=Attorney General


U. S. Grant v. Horace Greeley (Democrat & Liberal Republican)

With election violence, Grant sends troops in again in 1874 and 1875



1872 - corruption

Issues of the Liberal Republicans – end Reconstruction, end protective tariff (thus liberal, meaning supporting free trade), begin merit system (not the spoils system started in Jackson’s administration)


Tip on the History: If you do not understand the difference between a protective and revenue tariff, the meaning of the word tariff, and the meaning of the word merit system, ask. These are key concepts


General traits of the era:

§  Corruption and abuse of power (many scandals)—not by Grant but by his cabinet and appointees.
Link to color-coded scandals in this period  -  Credit Mobilier, Whiskey Ring, and more

§  But not just at the national level -Boss-ism (New York city government and Boss Tweed)



Panic of 1873 (Panic = a depression) – This and the scandals and the violence in the South reduced Northern interest and their votes for the Radical Republicans.



Women’s  Christian Temperance Union – Frances Willard


Tip on the History: What’s the organization for and what is the gender of Frances Willard?



Rutherford B. Hayes (Ohio Gov.) v. Sam Tilden (NY Gov.) – Honest Sam Tilden

              4,0360000                               4,301,000  - Tilden won on the popular vote

           Republican loss                        Democratic win


Electoral Commission, a device to deal with the argument over counting disputed ballots initially in 4 states.

The decision is to give Hayes every disputed electoral vote, but the Republicans had give the Democrats something else. It is the Compromise of 1877 – Why do the Democrats accept this victory for Hayes?

The federal troops will be out of the South—and what does that mean?


Who is the compromise between?


What’s a plantation after emancipation?  Nothing. Beginning right after the end of the war planters and freedmen developed sharecropping and tenant contracts. They will increasingly be used to control the freedmen—and poor whites.


On the other hand, slavery was no longer the law of the land. Further, the freedom and legal rights of freedmen varied with the region in the South. For example, a black city government in place in Wilmington, North Carolina, until 1898 when a white mob destroyed it.


The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments lay the foundation for more rights not just for African Americans, but also for women and other groups.






Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2018


WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or bibusc@wcjc.edu

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