Reconstruction and Insurrection in 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina

The violent overthrow of a duly elected government by a group of white supremacists. Introduction The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington coup of 1898, occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, November 10, 1898. It is considered a turning point in post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics.[…]

A History of Reconstruction

African Americans gained political power yet faced the backlash of white supremacy and racial violence. Introduction I’ll never forget a student’s response when I asked during a middle school social studies class what they knew about Black history: “Martin Luther King freed the slaves.” Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929, more than six[…]

Black Lives at Arlington National Cemetery: From Slavery to Segregation

Insights into the lives of African Americans at Arlington and other plantations in the Upper South before and after the Civil War. In the following excerpt from Civil War Places, William A. Blair reads the inscriptions on the headstones in Section 27 of Arlington National Cemetery for insights into the lives of African Americans at[…]

Jim Crow Laws and the American Experience

It would take several decades of legal action and years of nonviolent direct action to spark real change. Introduction The segregation and disenfranchisement laws known as “Jim Crow” represented a formal, codified system of racial apartheid that dominated the American South for three quarters of a century beginning in the 1890s. The laws affected almost[…]

Jim Crow and Racial Segregation after 1876

It was not until 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education and later 1964 with the Civil Rights Act that these laws were finally abolished. Introduction Jim Crow laws were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States after 1876 requiring the separation of African-Americans from white Americans[…]

Carpetbaggers and Scalawags: Reconstruction after the Civil War

Introduction Reconstruction is the name of the historical period following the American Civil War during which the U.S. government attempted to resolve the divisions of the war, rebuild the southern economy, and integrate former slaves into the political and social life of the country. With the end of the war and the collapse of the[…]

Congress and the Remaking of the South, 1865-1866

Andrew Johnson lacked Lincoln’s political skills and instead exhibited a stubbornness and confrontational approach. Introduction President Johnson and Congress’s views on Reconstruction grew even further apart as Johnson’s presidency progressed. Congress repeatedly pushed for greater rights for freed people and a far more thorough reconstruction of the South, while Johnson pushed for leniency and a[…]

Reconstruction after the Civil War

Reconstruction-era governments did make genuine gains in rebuilding Southern states devastated by the war. By Tina Ulrich, Joelle Hannert, Tom Gordon, Michelle Schneider, Michele Howard, Ryan Bernstein, and Justin Guillard Lincoln’s Plan for Reconstruction Overview The first great task confronting the victorious North — now under the leadership of Lincoln’s vice president, Andrew Johnson, a[…]

Treason or Loyal Opposition? The Copperheads and Dissent during the Civil War

Were the Copperheads traitors or merely exercising the right to criticize the government? To what extent did federal power increase during the Civil War? By Rachel Rooney and Margaret Storey Introduction The following documents offer perspectives on the Northern wing of the Democratic Party, which opposed the Civil War. These Peace Democrats urged an immediate,[…]

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[…]

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[…]