Reconstruction is the term applied to the time period, or era, when the South was occupied by United States Federal troops whilst state governments and economies were established and the infrastructure of the South was rebuilt.
The Reconstruction Plans of President Lincoln
The Reconstruction plans of President Lincoln were opposed by radical Republicans and passed the Wade-Davis Bill, which the President vetoed. The next measure was the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, which was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865. And President Lincoln had enlarged powers of the Freedmen's Bureau. There was opposition to some of Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction by radicals in Congress who believed the South should just revert back to the old ways. By the time of Lincoln's assassination the President and Congress were at a stalemate.
Reconstruction Era: Background
The Reconstruction Era for kids: President Andrew Johnson
The Reconstruction Era for kids: President Ulysses S. Grant
40 Facts about the Reconstruction Era: Facts and Timeline for kids
January 1, 1865: The 13th Amendment approved in January to abolish slavery. It is ratified in December 1865
January 16,1865: General William T. Sherman issues Special Field Order 15, setting aside confiscated plantation land along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia for black families to settle in 40-acre plots. 40,000 freedmen are living on the land by June 1865.
March 3,1865: The Freedmen's Bureau Bill, (the Freedmen's Bureau) was a temporary government agency initiated by President Lincoln to assist freedmen (freed ex-slaves) in the South.
April 9, 1865: End of the Civil War begins with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to Union forces at Appomattox
April 14, 1865: Assassination of President Lincoln by James Wilkes Booth
April 15, 1865:Death of President Lincoln. Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the Presidency
May 29, 1865: President Johnson's amnesty proclamation was more severe than President Lincoln's. The proclamation deprived all former military and civil officers of the Confederacy of any power. All those who owned property worth $20,000 or more. Their estates were made liable to confiscation.
1865: The Black Codes were laws passed in Southern States restricting black people's freedom and the right to own property, conduct business, buy and lease land, and move freely through public spaces
1865: President Johnson adopted a lenient approach and granted pardons to Confederates on a large scale
November, 1865: A "Colored People's Convention" assembled at Zion Church in Charleston to condemn the Black Codes.
December 1, 1865: Johnson Declares End to Reconstruction. Congress is outraged, and Radical Republicans refuse to recognize new governments in southern states.
December 4, 1865: Congress convened and refused to seat the Southern representatives. President Johnson retaliated by attacking Republican leaders and vetoing their Reconstruction measures
December 24, 1865: The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee
December, 1865: By the end of of the year every ex-Confederate state, except Texas, had re-established civil government
February 2, 1866: A black delegation led by Frederick Douglass meets with President Johnson at the White House to advocate black suffrage. The president expresses his opposition, and the meeting ends in controversy.
February 4, 1866: A follow-up Freedmenís Bureau Bill was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson
April 9, 1866: Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 declared "all persons born in the United States...hereby declared to be citizens of the United States." It was designed to protect ex-slaves from legislation such as the Black Codes
Apr. 28, 1866: Joint Committee on Reconstruction reported that the ex-Confederate states were in a state of civil disorder, and had therefore not held valid elections. It also maintained that Reconstruction was a congressional, not an executive, function.
May, 1866: The Memphis Riots when mobs of whites rampage through black neighborhoods
June 13, 1866: The Fourteenth Amendment was passed by Congress
July 3, 1866: A follow-up Freedmenís Bureau Bill was passed by Congress and the Senate providing additional rights to ex-slaves
July 24, 1866: Tennessee is the first former Confederate state readmitted to the Union
July 30, 1866: The New Orleans riots in which whites attack blacks at the Mechanics Institute
November 1866: The radicals in Congress solidified their position by winning the elections of 1866. Every Southern state (except Tennessee) refused to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and protect the rights of its black citizens
March 2, 1867: The First of 4 Reconstruction Acts were passed over President Johnson's veto. "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States" Second Act March 23, 1867. Third Act July 19 1867. Fourth Act March 11, 1868
March 2, 1867: Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act which prohibited the president from removing officials appointed by the Senate without senatorial approval
December, 1867: Johnson continued to oppose congressional policy, and insisted on the removal of the radical Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, in defiance of the Tenure of Office Act
30th March, 1868: The Impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson began - the President was acquitted by one vote
1868: By 1868 most Southern states had repealed the Black Code laws. New Southern state laws saw the emergence of the Carpetbaggers and the Scalawags
1868: Former slave, Oscar J. Dunn, was elected as first US Black Lieutenant Governor, serving in Louisiana from 1868 to 1871
August, 1868: A total of six states (Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida) had been readmitted to the Union, having ratified the Fourteenth Amendment as required by the first Reconstruction Act.
September 28, 1868: The Opelousas Massacre in Louisiana in which 200 to 300 black Americans are killed.
November 3, 1868: Election of Ulysses S. Grant as president
July 1, 1869: Freedmen's Bureau ends (although educational help continues for another 3 years)
February 3, 1870: Fifteenth Amendment ratified stating that a citizen's right to vote cannot be taken away because of race, the color of their skin, or because they were previously slaves.
1870: Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia were readmitted in 1870 after ratifying the 14th and 15th Amendment
February 23, 1870: Hiram Revels elected to U. S. Senate as the first black senator
December 12, 1870: Joseph H. Rainey, is the first black member sworn in as member of the House of Representatives
May 22, 1872: Grant signs the Amnesty Act and only a few hundred former Confederates are excluded from political privileges
1877: Rutherford B. Hayes removes troops from South Carolina and Louisiana, signaling the end of Reconstruction.
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