Important events and people
Created by Tobyas on Oct 22, 2010
Last updated: 11/05/10 at 07:25 AM
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ooker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915. He was representative of the last generation of black leaders born in slavery and spoke on behalf of blacks living in the South. Washington was able throughout the final 25 years of his life to maintain his standing as the major black leader because of the sponsorship by powerful whites, substantial support within the black community, his ability to raise educational funds from both groups, and his accommodation to the social realities of the age of Jim Crow segregation.
In the history of the United States, Reconstruction Era has two uses; the first covers the entire nation in the period 1865–1877 following the Civil War; the second one, used in this article, covers the transformation of the Southern United States from 1863 to 1877, with the reconstruction of state and society in the former Confederacy. Three amendments to the Constitution affected the entire nation. In the different states, Reconstruction began and ended at different times; federal Reconstruction policies were finally abandoned with the Compromise of 1877.
Robert Brown Elliott (1842-1884) was an African American member of the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina. Robert Brown Elliott's early life is a mystery. Although he claimed to have been born in Liverpool, England to West Indian immigrants, and to have graduated from Eton College, biographers have been unable to corroborate these facts. He moved to South Carolina in 1867 and established a law practice. Elliott helped organize the local Republican Party and served in the state constitutional convention. In 1868 he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. The next year he was appointed assistant adjutant-general; he was the first African American commanding general of the South Carolina National Guard. As part of his job, he helped form a state militia to fight the Ku Klux Klan.
The New Orleans Riot, which occurred on July 30, 1866, was a violent conflict outside of the mechanics institute in New Orleans during the reconvened Louisiana Constitutional Convention. The Radical Republicans in Louisiana, who reconvened the Constitutional Convention, were angered by the enactment of the Black Codes in Louisiana and by the legislature's refusal to give black men the vote. The reconvened convention was illegally formed and its intended purpose was to use the popular Republican swing in Washington, D.C. to attempt to take control of the state government. The riot itself "stemmed from deeply rooted political, social, and economic causes," and took place in part because of the battle "between two opposing factions for power and office.
Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States (1865–1869). Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era of the United States in the four years after the American Civil War. His tenure was controversial as his positions favoring the white South came under heavy political attack from Republicans.
am Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union, ending slavery, and rededicating the nation to nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, he was mostly self-educated and became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband, and father of four children.
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as The Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration. The current manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is widely considered to be a hate group.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. It was then declared in the proclamation of Secretary of State William H. Seward on December 18. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments. President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.
John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States, to date the youngest vice president in U.S. history, inaugurated at age 36. In the 1860 presidential election, he ran as one of two candidates of the fractured Democratic Party, representing Southern Democrats. Breckinridge came in third place in the popular vote, behind winner Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, and Stephen Douglas, a Northern Democrat, but finished second in the Electoral College vote. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, he served in the Confederate States Army as a general and commander of Confederate forces prior to the 1863 Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and of the young Virginia Military Institute cadets, at the 1864 Battle of New Market in Lexington, Virginia. He also served as the fifth and final Confederate Secretary of War. A member of the prominent Breckinridge family of Kentucky, Breckinridge was the grandson of John Breckinridge (1760–1806), who served as a Senator and Attorney General; the father of congressman and diplomat Clifton Rodes Breckinridge; and the great-grandfather of actor John Cabell "Bunny" Breckinridge.
Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 – January 26, 1893) was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter, the opening battle of the war, and had a pivotal role in the early fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg was his finest hour, but his relief by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade caused lasting enmity between the two men. In San Francisco, after the war, he obtained a patent on the cable car railway that still runs there. In his final years in New Jersey, he was a prominent member and later president of the Theosophical Society. He is known for a once-popular legend that he invented baseball, a claim that he himself never made and for which there is considerable counter-evidence.
The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.
The Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12–13, 1861) was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon Fort Sumter since the fort was located in South Carolina territory and South Carolina no longer considered itself part of the Union. The Union refused to relinquish the fort. When the ultimatum deadline passed, an artillery barrage ensued, lasting until the fort was surrendered. There was no loss of life on either side as a direct result of this engagement. The President used this event as a symbolic justification to raise a Union army for the purpose of suppressing the rebellion.
The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces and still often used in the Southern United States), was fought on July 21, 1861, near Manassas, Virginia. It was the first major land battle of the American Civil War. Just months after the start of the war at Fort Sumter, the Northern public clamored for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, which could bring an early end to the war. Yielding to this political pressure, unseasoned Union Army troops under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell advanced across Bull Run against the equally unseasoned Confederate Army under Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard near Manassas Junction. McDowell's ambitious plan for a surprise flank attack against the Confederate left was not well executed by his inexperienced officers and men, but the Confederates, who had been planning to attack the Union left flank, found themselves at an initial disadvantage. Confederate reinforcements under the command of Brig. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston arrived from the Shenandoah Valley by railroad and the course of the battle changed. A brigade of Virginians under a relatively unknown colonel from the Virginia Military Institute, Thomas J. Jackson, stood their ground and Jackson received his famous nickname, "Stonewall Jackson". The Confederates launched a strong counterattack and as the Union troops began withdrawing under pressure, many panicked and it turned into a rout as they frantically ran in the direction of nearby Washington, D.C. Both sides were sobered by the violence and casualties of the battle, and they realized that the war would potentially be much longer and bloodier than they had originally anticipated.
Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as the President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865. A West Point graduate, Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce Administration, he served as a U.S. Senator representing the State of Mississippi. As a senator he argued against secession, but did agree that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.
Judah Philip Benjamin (August 6, 1811 – May 6, 1884) was an American politician and lawyer. He was born a British subject in the West Indies, became a citizen of the United States and then the Confederate States of America. After the collapse of the Confederacy, he settled in England and died in France. During his career in U.S. politics, Benjamin was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and a U.S. Senator from Louisiana; he was the second Jewish senator in U.S. history. Following the formation of the Confederate States of America, he held three different Cabinet posts in the government of Jefferson Davis. He was the first Jewish Cabinet-member in a North American government, and the first Jew seriously considered for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court (he declined an offer of nomination twice). Following his relocation to Europe, he was a distinguished barrister and Queen's Counsel in the United Kingdom.
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union, ending slavery, and rededicating the nation to nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, he was mostly self-educated and became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband, and father of four children. As an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery in the United States, Lincoln won the first Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860. As president he concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war effort, always seeking to reunify the nation after the secession of the eleven Confederate States of America. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention, without trial, of thousands of suspected secessionists. He issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery. Six days after the surrender of the main Confederate forces, Lincoln was assassinated, the first President to suffer such a fate. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of both parties into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. He defused a confrontation with Britain in the Trent affair late in 1861. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border slave states at the start of the war, and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond; each time a General failed, Lincoln substituted another, until finally Grant succeeded in 1865. A shrewd politician deeply involved with patronage and power issues in each state, he managed his own reelection in the 1864 presidential election. Lincoln, the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, came under heavy sustained attack from the Radical Republicans, who wanted harsher treatment of the South, from Democrats who wanted more compromise, and from the secessionists who saw him as their great enemy. Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pairing his opponents against each other and by appealing over their heads to the American people, using his powers of oratory, in particular, with the Gettysburg Address of 1863 which, although short, became one of the most quoted speeches in history. It became an iconic statement of America's dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. Lincoln has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.
Dred Scott (1799– September 17, 1858), was an African American slave in the United States who sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857. His case was based on the fact that although he and his wife Harriet Scott were slaves, he had lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal according to both state laws and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, including Illinois and Minnesota (which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory). The United States Supreme Court ruled seven to two against Scott, finding that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, since that would improperly deprive Scott's owner of his legal property.
The Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the United States Congress on September 18, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers. This was one of the most controversial acts of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a 'slave power conspiracy'. It declared that all runaway slaves be brought back to their masters. Abolitionists nicknamed it the "Bloodhound Law" for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.
The Mexican–American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution. In addition to a naval blockade off the Mexican coast, American forces invaded and conquered New Mexico, California, and parts of what is currently northern Mexico. Another American army captured Mexico City, forcing Mexico to agree to the sale of its northern territories to the U.S. Territorial expansion of the United States to the Pacific coast was the goal of President James K. Polk, the leader of the Democratic Party. However, the war was highly controversial in the U.S., with the Whig Party and anti-slavery elements strongly opposed. The major consequence of the war was the forced Mexican Cession of the territories of California and New Mexico to the United States in exchange for $15 million. In addition, the United States forgave debt owed by the Mexican government to U.S. citizens. Mexico accepted the Rio Grande as its national border, and the loss of Texas. Meanwhile gold was discovered in California, which immediately became an international magnet for the California Gold Rush. The political aftermath of the war raised the slavery issue in the U.S., leading to intense debates that pointed to civil war; the Compromise of 1850 provided a brief respite. In the U.S., the conflict is often referred to as the Mexican War and sometimes as the U.S.–Mexican War. In Mexico, terms for it include (primera) intervención estadounidense en México ((first) American intervention in Mexico), invasión estadounidense de México (American Invasion of Mexico), and guerra del 47 (The War of '47).
Alexander Hamilton Stephens (February 11, 1812 – March 4, 1883) was an American politician from Georgia. He was Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He also served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia (both before the Civil War and after Reconstruction) and as the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883.
Eli Whitney (December 8, 1765 – January 8, 1825) was an American inventor best known for inventing the cotton gin. This was one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. Whitney's invention made short staple cotton into a profitable crop, which strengthened the economic foundation of slavery. Despite the social and economic impact of his invention, Whitney lost his profits in legal battles over patent infringement, closed his business and nearly filed for bankruptcy.
Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852), was a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker. He also served as Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party Systems. As a leading war hawk, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in 1812. He was the foremost proponent of the American System, fighting for an increase in tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure, and a strong national bank. He opposed the annexation of Texas, fearing it would inject the slavery issue into politics. Clay also opposed the Mexican-American War and the "Manifest Destiny" policy of Democrats, which cost him votes in the close 1844 election. Dubbed the "Great Compromiser," he brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850, during which he was part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. He was viewed as the primary representative of Western interests in this group, and was given the names "Henry of the West" and "The Western Star." In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by Sen. John F. Kennedy named Clay as one of the five greatest Senators in U.S. history. Abraham Lincoln, Whig leader in Illinois, was a great admirer of Clay, saying he was "my beau ideal of a great man." Lincoln wholeheartedly supported Clay's economic programs.
Gabriel (1776 – October 10, 1800), today commonly – if incorrectly – known as Gabriel Prosser, was a literate enslaved blacksmith who planned to lead a large slave rebellion in the Richmond area in the summer of 1800. However, information regarding the revolt was leaked prior to its execution, thus Gabriel's plans were foiled. Gabriel, along with twenty-six members of the revolt, were hanged. In reaction, the Virginia and other legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks, as well as the education, movement and hiring out of the enslaved. In 2002 the City of Richmond passed a resolution in honor of Gabriel on the 202nd anniversary of the rebellion. In 2007 Governor Tim Kaine gave Gabriel and his followers an informal pardon, in recognition that his cause, "the end of slavery and the furtherance of equality for all people – has prevailed in the light of history."