1/17: Reconstructing the Union
John Wilkes Booth: (1838–65) the US actor (famous in VA) who shot and killed President
Abraham Lincoln on 14 April, 1865 in Ford’s Theater, Washington, DC, while the President was
watching a play. Booth had sympathy for the Confederate States (he was a Confederate diehard)
and was angry at their defeat by Lincoln’s government. Before assassinating the president, he
came together in DC with a bunch of conspirators to plan a series of assassinations, which would
revive the Civil War and would give the South another opportunity to maintain its independence.
Booth snuck into the Presidential cabinet, drilled a hole, waited for Lincoln’s guards, and shot
the president in the head, which killed him six hours later. After shooting the President, he
jumped onto the stage and broke his leg (screaming ―Sic Semper Tyrannous‖/―Thus the
Tyrants‖) but escaped. He was later found in a barn, ―tell my mother I did it for my country,‖ and
was shot upon exiting the barn. Ironically, the opposite happened: after the assassination,
Reconstruction got harder for the South.
Andrew Johnson: Vice President of Lincoln prior to his assassination, then became the president
afterwards. A Southern Unionist, Johnson was the only Southerner who stayed in the states.
Johnson’s vision of Reconstruction was very similar to Lincoln’s, and he decided to fulfill
Lincoln’s vision after becoming president. He went easy on the South. Johnson pardoned many
high-ranking Confederate officials, he allowed the Southern states to send their people to be
members of Congress (many Confederate generals and officers). The Radical Republicans were
outraged and Congress refused to sit due to the refusal of the newly-elected Confederate
representatives; Congress begins to attack the president, demanding more change and more
punishment for the South. With the Confederate officials being elected, black codes (1866; an
example being that the freedmen had to carry around papers demonstrating they had a
job. If they didn’t have a job, they were arrested for vagrancy. Freedmen can’t buy land,
can’t have interracial relationships) came to be, which were codes that policed freedmen.
Congress became further upset with Johnson after he allowed the black codes to continue, so
they clashed repeatedly, particularly in the year 1866. Johnson went to the people and claimed
the Radical Republicans were crazy, so he asked the people to elect more democrats to Congress.
The people go with the radicals and more Radical Republicans are added to Congress, expressing
their outrage with Johnson’s ―dictatorship.‖ After the Reconstruction Act of 1867, Johnson
becomes irate. Congress passes a law that says Johnson cannot fire his cabinet members, or the
Tenure of Office Act, which Johnson disregards and fires his Secretary of War. Congress will
impeach him, making him the first impeached president. He is not removed from office, but
becomes a lame duck president.
Reconstruction Act of 1867: First thing Congress passes after the election of 1866. Basically
says that the South will not be readmitted into the states until they undergo significant changes;
the South is divided into military-occupied districts, overseen by Northern generals and military troops. The Southern judicial system is ignored and the law is enforced by the Northern army
until the changes that were demanded by Congress were fulfilled. Administered by martial law;
this means that the military controls the entire region and enforces the law. Had to adopt a NEW
STATE CONSTITUTION (each state had to revise their constitution); each state had to accept
the 13 amendment (the one that ended slavery), accept the 14 amendment (granted citizenship
to the former slaves/freedmen), and had to provide public education to the freedmen. Each of the
Southern states also had to grant the right to vote to all adult males, without regard to race
(will later become the 15 amendment, which will grant African American males the right to
Redemption: The prevention of dramatic changes Congress was forcing on the South. Redeemers
felt that they should regain political structure in the South, wanted to reconstitute their society in
the way they preferred. A battle between Redeemers and African-
Americans/Northerners/Radical Republicans starts in the 1880s. Over time, Southern whites
(Redeemers) used violence and harassment to crack down on black voting and Northerners likely
to vote for black representatives, which is the process of Redemption. Many Redeemers were
members of the KKK.
Compromise of 1877: agreement resolves the disputed election. It is unwritten, a spoken
agreement in Congress. The agreement is somewhat beneficial to both sides. In the agreement,
Hayes becomes president (R), but agrees to only serve for ONE TERM. Second part of the
agreement is that Hayes promises to appoint ONE SOUTHERNER to his cabinet to
overcome some of the divisions between the North and South. Hayes promises to provide
money to the South to physically rebuild after the war. Hayes also agrees to remove all the
remaining military troops from the South. This agreement signifies the OFFICIAL END TO
RECONSTRUCTION, and the Southern states regain control of their region, where they
reconstitute society in a way that they prefer (the Jim Crow South [1880s-1940s]), although
slavery no longer exists. This time period established segregation, disenfranchisement, and racial
violence (lynching, harassing) to maintain control.
Secede: withdraw (politically) from the Union, becoming independent nations with new
political identities (the Confederate States of America); South Carolina is the first of the 11
in the 1860s, VA originally voted against seceded but did after the Battle of Fort Sumter.
The political structure is almost identical to the US (own president, own Constitution, own
political branches, etc etc).
Freedmen: former slaves. Will they be able to vote, will they count as whole people in
representation instead of 3/5? Will they be given land (40 acres and a mule)? Do they
deserve nothing but freedom?
The nation had been divided in the 1860s, physically AND politically; the Reconstruction aimed
to repair both problems. Issue that needed to be addressed during Reconstruction: what to do with the former slaves. The
Civil War did not deal with slavery; Lincoln would have allowed slaves if it meant avoiding the
war, but it didn’t, so things changed (slaves abandoned plantations and went to union camps to
offer help, emancipation proclamation in 1862 [preliminary] and Jan 1, 1863. Emancipation
amendment that banned slavery in America=the 13 Amendment; wasn’t ratified until the end of
the war. After 1865, slavery is done, but no one knew what to do with the former slaves.
Robert E. Lee waged war against America in defense of slavery. In 1865, the question was what
to do with Lee and the other Confederate generals. Reconstruction lasted 12 years, from 1865 to
About half of the Confederate states will be readmitted in 1868, the other half in 1870. It took 3-
Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction; the 10% plan—Lincoln felt the Civil War was a
tragic mistake. Lincoln did not directly blame the South for the war, he felt it was
unavoidable. 10% of the population of the Confederacy had to sign a loyalty oath to the US.
Once 10% of those citizens signed a loyalty oath (denouncing the Confederacy), then the process
of re-admittance into the US started. Education would have to be provided to the freedmen.,
but under Lincoln’s plan, the freedmen would not get land, the right to vote, or equality.
No one in the South was to blame.
Congress had a different view of the Reconstruction progress. Members of Congress were
militant Republicans (which Lincoln was), the most of which being called ―Radical
Republicans.‖ The Radical Republicans blamed the South for the Civil War; they felt that the
Confederate leadership, particularly the plantation owners (the wealthiest), were to blame—they
pushed for secession. Contrary to Lincoln’s opinion, Congress believed the South should be
punished. The leaders were to be punished and the freedmen were to be protected and have their
status changed. Congress passes their own reconstruction plan: The Wade Davis Bill. More
substantial changes were required in southern society before the states were allowed back into
the US. Instead of having 10% of the population sing the loyalty oath, 50% had to sign it.
Lincoln pocket vetoes (if you don’t sign it, it doesn’t become law) Congress’ law, which
leads to the president and Congress “playing nice” with each other; they will come to a
compromise on Reconstruction.
Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address (March 1865) includes some famous words that signal
where he was at during the war: ―with malice towards none, we’re going to come together
and mend the Union.‖ This never happened, as Lincoln was assassinated briefly after.
Congress, in the spring of 1865, passes the freedmen’s bureau. One of the things it did was set-
up schools in the South for freedmen, which helped them become literate, and also set up labor
contracts for fair work. Johnson vetoes the bureau after it comes up for renewal a year later.
Even though Johnson vetoed the bill, Congress overturns it and passes the freedmen’s bureau. Congress demands substantial changes to society before the South is allowed to be readmitted.
1/22: Reconstructing the Union (cont.) and the South in the Late 1800s (Jim Crow Era)
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): In 1890, Louisiana passed a law that required segregation of railroad
cars. An African American man, Homer Plessy, decided to challenge this law by having himself
arrested and filing a lawsuit arguing that this was illegal and was not ―equal treatment.‖ In 1896,
the decision is handed down, and the US Supreme Court decides that segregation is legal and
constitutional. However, they say it’s only legal if the facilities are EQUAL; the separate but
equal clause. Brown vs. Board of Education overturns Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1954.
Disenfranchisement: ―Explicit or implicit revocation of, or failure to grant the right to vote, to a
person or group of people.‖ White population of the South tries to prevent a lasting effect of
African-American voters; these men called themselves Redeemers. They wanted to create
Ku Klux Klan: A war veteran’s group; created in 1865-66 for military veterans. Shortly after, the
Klan becomes associated with the harassment and intimidating of black voters and carpet
baggers (Northerners who moved to the South to vote). Robes supposed to represent ghosts/hide
identities. The KKK is a Christian organization; they believed they had the right to mastery due
to some parts in the bible.
WEB Du Bois: Booker T. Washington’s main opponent; produces and encourages a different
approach to race relations—more adamant to racial equality, that blacks be treated equal. READ
MORE IN BOOK.
Reconstruction summary: political, social, and physical reconstruction; Lincoln’s plan didn’t
want required significant changes in the South (10% plan), unlike the Radical Republicans;
Lincoln assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an actor who identified with the South, Johnson
becomes president, also goes easy on the South (pardoning Confederate officials and allows the
states to do their own gov’t.); things come to a head at the very end of 1866 with an election that
determined the future of ReconstructionJohnson is humiliated after the election, Congress
receives a greater number of Radical Republicans, Congress seizes control over Reconstruction.
Racism is a national phenomenon.
After the Reconstruction Act of 1867, Johnson becomes irate. Congress passes a law that says
Johnson cannot fire his cabinet members, or the Tenure of Office Act, which Johnson
disregards and fires his Secretary of War. Congress will impeach him. Johnson’s impeachment
trial takes place in the Senate, but the trial is not enough to convict/remove Johnson from office;
he wins by 1 vote. The impeachment is more of a signal that showed Johnson that Congress is in
control over Reconstruction—Johnson becomes a lame duck president. th
The 15 amendment is passed in 1869, ratified in 1870. African Americans are able to vote in
1867 due to the Reconstruction Act. ―The right of citizens in the US to vote should not be
abridged . . . due to race, color, or previous condition of servitude.‖
How People Felt About Reconstruction
African-Americans were ecstatic over Congressional Reconstruction; they viewed the
Reconstruction as a time period of home, excitement, new changes, etc etc. African
Americans begin to move all over the South, relocating, trying to get jobs outside of cash
crop agriculture. They wanted to rejoin with lost family members. In South Carolina and
Mississippi, African Americans made up the majority of the states’ populations. This
Reconstruction period lasts 1-2 decades for them.
Southern whites are extraordinarily upset over these changes; they felt that Congress was
forcing these changes on them, despite them being unhappy over it. They felt their
former slaves were INFERIOR to them; they viewed them as ANIMALISTIC
instead of human. Southern whites hated that slaves started acting like actual human
beings. KKK begins to resist these changes, movements to prevent the changes Congress
was trying to reinforce.
First wave of re-admittance begins in 1868, the second in 1870.
Northern Distractions and the End of Reconstruction
Near the end, there is a growing Southern opposition to Reconstruction (among whites) and a
growing movement for Redemption. The Klan is also growing. President Ulysses Grant tries to
crack down on the Klan with the Force Bill/Act, but Northern whites are distracted (by conflict
of Native Americans in the West; the settlement of the Western half of US; railroads and
urbanization; industrialization) and aren’t paying attention to the problems of slaves.
Northerners want to bring the troops home from the South since the war had been over for 5-9
years and keeping them there is costly. Racism is GROWING in the US, thanks to SOCIAL
DARWINISM (read about in textbook). Northerners are now less inclined to protect the
Everything comes to a head in 1876 (by then, all Southern states have been readmitted to the
country) (Southern whites hate the Republican Party and tend to vote for democrats; blacks vote
for republicans [if they weren’t having such trouble voting]). Tilden is Democratic; Hayes is
Republican (both get 50% in Electoral votes).
Compromise of 1877, see definition above.
South in the 1800s
As stated above, this time is a time of segregation, disenfranchisement, and racial violence—the
Jim Crow era. Jim Crow is a reference to popular, derogatory, blackface performances that occurred before the
Civil War (Daddy Rice is a popular figure in the blackface performances, wrote the ―Jumping
Jim Crow‖ song).
Laws are passed to mimic the pre-war Southern society that Redeemers were supportive of.
THREE PILLARS OF JIM CROW SOUTH
Segregation: separation of the two races
Disenfranchisement: attempts to keep African-Americans from voting, normally by racial
violence; ―franchise‖ is the right to vote, so ―disenfranchisement‖ means the removal of the
right; becomes LEGAL by the 1890s through poll tests (literacy tests; gets around the 15 th
amendment due to it not being based on race or color), poll taxes (paying to vote—this also
disenfranchises poor whites too), and the Grandfather Clause (started in 1890; ―if your
grandfather could vote, you can vote‖)
Racial violence: physical violence (lynching), but also anything meant to discourage
behavior/protect white control (firing someone if they continued attempting to vote).
Separate facilities were typically NOT equal.
Reasons for Crow
Whites showed who was in control
Prevention of racial mixing/interracial relationships—―mongrelization‖
Decline of the white race if interracial relationships were allowed
In 1890, Louisiana passed a law that required segregation of railroad cars. An African American
man, Homer Plessy, decided to challenge this law by having himself arrested and filing a lawsuit
arguing that this was illegal and was not ―equal treatment.‖ In 1896, the decision is handed
down, and the US Supreme Court decides that segregation is legal and constitutional. However,
they say it’s only legal if the facilities are EQUAL; the separate but equal clause. After 1896,
new segregation laws are passed in most states. Segregation becomes pervasive.
1/24, The South in the Late 1800s (wrap-up), and the Settlement of the West in the Late 1800s:
Homestead Act: Federal law passed in 1862; Federal government divides the now-owned
Western land (160 acres) and offers them to people to settle. If you live on the land and care for
it for 5 years, they give you the land for free. Over years, the federal government gives thay
60% of the land. AFRICAN AMERICANS COULD TAKE PART IN IT DUE TO 14
AMENDMENT, as could immigrants
The Iron Horse: Railroads; invented in the 1830s, though the railroads don’t boom until the
1850s. A transportation revolution. Gen. George Armstrong Custer: most closely associated with the Lakota Sioux conflict. Custer
was a Civil War hero, fighting for the North, and was then stationed in the South during
Reconstruction. Later, he was relocated to the West, where he was asked to relocate the Sioux
tribe back to the black hills. The Battle of Little Bighorn, Montana was ―Custer’s Last Stand,‖
where he and his troops failed miserably and were killed by Chief Sitting Bull’s tribe—a victory
for the Indian tribes.
Lakota Sioux: gold was discovered in the black hills where they resided, so white settlers came
and occupied the outskirts of their reservation. The Lakota claimed that the federal government
were not abiding by the treaty terms and weren’t helping them protect their reservations, so they
abandoned it and reverted to their previous traditions. In the 1870s, troops were sent to place the
Lakota Sioux back on the reservation.
VA state constitution formalizes disenfranchisement after the KKK comes in. This new state
constitution goes into effect in 1902; disenfranchises by literacy tests and poll taxes—if you were
related to a Confederate member, you were not required to take these tests. Only 10% of black
voters were still able to vote after these tests. Black politicians die out (until the late 1960s) due
to these methods of disenfranchisement. Because of this, white politicians lose interest in the
black vote, and people suffer due to this (schools given less money, people are forgotten about).
The jury becomes all white due to African Americans not being on the registration list.
Racial Violence in the Jim Crow Era
Segregation and disenfranchisement should not be challenged; the African Americans who
challenged it became affected by retribution.
1. Lynching. Carried out by many organiz