Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Civil War (1861-1865)

  • The Civil War was triggered primarily by the issue of slavery and its expansion into the Western territories, sparking conflicts between the abolitionist North and pro-slavery South.
  • Election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, who was perceived as anti-slavery by the South, set the stage for Southern secession.
  • The war began with the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861, after which more Southern states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America.
  • Key battles such as Gettysburg and Antietam marked turning points for Union forces.
  • Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln in 1862, declaring enslaved people in Confederate-held territories free, adding a moral purpose to the Union cause.
  • The war concluded in 1865 with the surrender of Confederate general Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse.

Reconstruction (1865-1877)

  • The era of Reconstruction was aimed at healing the nation and integrating the Southern states back into the Union, but was fraught with political and racial tensions.
  • Lincoln’s Ten-Percent Plan took a lenient stance on reconstruction, allowing secessionist states to rejoin the Union if ten percent of the 1860 vote count could take an oath of allegiance.
  • This prompted conflict with the Radical Republicans in Congress, who pushed their own harsher Reconstruction Acts beginning in 1867.
  • 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments, were ratified, abolishing slavery, granting citizenship and equal protection under law, and protecting voting rights.
  • The era saw the emergence of Black codes and Jim Crow laws, violating the civil rights of African Americans, signalling systemic and institutionalized racism.
  • The era ended controversially with the Compromise of 1877, leading to the withdrawal of federal troops from the South in return for recognizing Rutherford B. Hayes as president, effectively ending military Reconstruction.

Interconnected note: The progress and setbacks during the Reconstruction era provide context for the subsequent civil rights movement and systemic racism issues. Connecting these would offer a comprehensive overview of struggle for racial equality in US.