“Charity Is Ever Kind”: Women in Civil War Contraband Camps

In the first year of the Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler used the term “contraband of war,” to describe escaped enslaved people. By Ashlee AndersonPublic Historian On April 12, 1861, America officially entered into a Civil War, years in the making. This war would transform millions of lives and completely change the country as[…]

Social and Economic Factors in the Reconstruction Era

Reconstruction’s influence of and effects upon religion, education, industry, and taxation. Organized Religion Freedmen were very active in forming their own churches, mostly Baptist or Methodist, and giving their ministers both moral and political leadership roles. In a process of self-segregation, practically all blacks left white churches so that few racially integrated congregations remained (apart[…]

A History of Reconstruction after the Civil War

The of the aftermath of the Civil War and the brief attempt to “reconstruct” the U.S. South on the basis of democracy and political equality for the freed Black slaves. The formal emancipation of African American slaves and the victory of the Union Army in the Civil War constituted a significant but incomplete advance for[…]

The USCT: Black Union Soldiers in the Civil War

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) was a branch of the United States Army founded in 1863. Introduction The United States Colored Troops (USCT) was a branch of the United States Army founded in 1863 to recruit, organize, and oversee the service of African American soldiers during the American Civil War (1861–1865). USCT regiments consisted of[…]

Elizabeth Van Lew: Confederate Abolitionist Turned Union Spy

Elizabeth Van Lew was a Richmond, Virginia abolitionist and philanthropist who built and operated an extensive spy ring for the Union Army during the American Civil War. Early Life Elizabeth Van Lew was born on October 12, 1818, in Richmond, Virginia to John Van Lew and Eliza Baker,[1] whose grandfather was Hilary Baker, mayor of Philadelphia from 1796 to[…]

Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction

The views of the Vice President rarely matter too much, unless something happens to the President. In 1864, Republican Abraham Lincoln chose Andrew Johnson, a Democratic senator from Tennessee, as his Vice Presidential candidate. Lincoln was looking for Southern support. He hoped that by selecting Johnson he would appeal to Southerners who never wanted to[…]