Unit 5: Reconstruction

General Timeline
General Map

Map # 1: Timeline of Readmission to Union

APUSH Unit 5_ Reconstruction Map #1.png
Course Content



Post-Civil War Situation


Emancipation Proclamation (Jan 1863)

Aug 1861:

1st Confiscation Act

All slaves used in Confederate military are freed

Jul 1862:

2nd Confiscation Act

All slaves whose masters are in Confederate military are freed

Jan 1863:

Emancipation Proclamation

All slaves in Confederacy are freed

Abraham Lincoln's 10% Plan (Dec 1863)

10% of white voters in Confederate states must take oath of loyalty to the Union & US Constitution

After that, constitutional convention would make a constitution w/o slavery & with Black voting rights. 

Attempted to reconcile the South during the Civil War to avoid more violence. Never really succeeded

Wade-Davis Bill (Jul 1864)

Also attempted to reconcile the South during Civil War. Vetoed by Lincoln as it was too radical

Instead of Lincoln's proposed 10%, it wanted >50% of white voters in the South to take an oath of loyalty to US & give black voting rights

Proposed by Radical Republicans in Congress. Vetoed by Lincoln as it was too radical. Didn't pass

13th Amendment (Jan 1865, ratified Dec 1865)

Abolished slavery throughout the US

Passed in Congress in Jan 1865

Ratified by all states in Dec 1865

Freedmen's Bureau (Mar 1865)

  • Congress was dominated by Republicans as the Democrats of the South seceded & lost their seats

    • These Republicans (most were Radical) enacted many laws to promote black rights

  • Congress created Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands

    • Known as "Freedmen's Bureau"​

    • Sought to ease transition of blacks into society

    • Established schools for blacks

    • Acted as courts to settle disputes between blacks & whites

    • Assisted the poor

    • US Army accompanied them

End of Civil War (Apr 1865)

In Apr 1865, Confederacy surrendered to the Union, ending the Civil War

Congress needed to figure out how to readmit former Confederate states to Union & help newly-freed Blacks adapt to society

The Reconstruction is a series of acts enacted by Congress from 1863-1877 to readmit Confederate states to the Union & help former slaves adapt to society

Lincoln's Assassination & Johnson's Ascendance (Apr 1865)

  • In Apr 1865, Pres. Lincoln was assassinated

    • VP Andrew Johnson (D) became president​

  • Johnson was a Democrat & didn't fully support Black rights

    • He was Lincoln's running mate in 1864 election to gain support of Peace Democrats

    • Opposed the policies of Lincoln (R) and Radical Republicans in Congress

      • Sought to prevent Radical Republicans in Congress from enacting the Reconstruction​

      • Kept vetoing Congressional bills

  • Johnson's policies were more moderate

    • Gave many pardons to former Confederates & allowed them to serve in Union gov again

    • Sought that former Confederate states only reject secession & don't fully give Blacks civilian rights

      • Only wanted abolition of slavery​

    • His policies were bad as Southern states only repealed their secession & didn't do much else

Black Codes (1865-1866)

  • Governments in the South enacted "Black Codes"

    • Sought to limit the power of Blacks in society after their emancipation as slaves

  • Mississippi was first state to enact "Black Codes"

    • Blacks can only rent land within the cities

    • ​Blacks can't do independent farming

      • Can only work as sharecroppers on White farmers' land

    • Blacks must be able to show proof of employment or will be arrested

  • South Carolina was 2nd state to enact "Black Codes"

    • Had stricter guidelines

    • Also made sure blacks sign yearly labor contracts as proof of employment

      • Most blacks were servants or sharecroppers​



Ku Klux Klan (KKK) (Est. Dec 1865)

  • A group of white supremacists that sought to attack blacks

    • Founded by 6 ex-officers of Confederate army

      • Founded in Tennessee​

    • Attacked, lynched, and assassinated Blacks

  • State militias were generally unreliable in suppressing the KKK's actions

    • Many KKK members didn't receive punishment

Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1866 (Feb 1866)

Gave more funds to Freedmen's Bureau

Gave it military authority to persecute civil rights violations

Vetoed by President Johnson as it gave national gov too much power. Senate failed to override the veto

Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Apr 1866)

Protects Black citizenship rights

Gives Blacks all civil liberties of whites. Gives Blacks right to sue in court

Vetoed by Pres. Johnson as it favors blacks over whites. Senate overrode it

14th Amendment (Jun 1866)

Officially gives citizenship to Blacks born in the US

Gives equal protection under law to Blacks & Whites

Johnson hated this. He can't veto an amendment, so he instead encouraged states not to ratify it. Finally ratified in Jul 1868

Tennessee Readmitted to Union (Jul 1866)

Tennessee was the only ex-Confederate state to ratify 14th amendment

Congress rewarded Tennessee by readmitted it to the Union

Memphis Race Riot (May 1866) & New Orleans Massacre (Jul 1866)

  • Memphis Riots were when mobs of white people started attacking black neighborhoods

    • Black Union soldiers were partying in the streets & police were called to disperse them

    • Black soldiers refused to leave, so police called reinforcements & opened gunfire

      • One officer accidentally shot himself

      • One Black soldier shot & killed another officer

    • All the Whites in Memphis blamed those shootings on the Blacks

      • Mobs of Whites started attacking & looting Black homes, attacked the Black soldiers, etc.

    • Federal troops came later to end the violence

  • New Orleans Massacre was when armed whites started attacking anti-"Black Code" blacks

    • Many Blacks were part of the convention to create the reconstructed Louisiana constitution

      • Sought to give blacks equality & abolish the "Black Codes​"

    • As those Blacks were leaving their convention's building, white armed men came & fired at them

    • Federal troops came to end the violence

  • These 2 events showed Congress that the South needs to be in stricter control to protect the Blacks

Republican Win in Congressional Election of 1866 (Nov 1866)

Northerners hated growing violence against Blacks in the South. They hated Johnson for vetoing the civil rights acts

Republicans easily won 2/3 majorities in both houses of Congress

This ensured that the Republicans can override any presidential veto & enact their Reconstruction plans

Reconstruction Act of 1867 (Mar 1867)

10 ex-Confederate states in the South (all but Tennessee) would be divided into 5 districts, each ruled by a US army general 

Each state would create a voter registration board & allow black men to vote. Ex-Confederate officials can't hold office

The voters would create a constitutional convention that would create a constitution & ratify 14th amendment

Once enough states have ratified 14th amendment, the state can elect people to Congress. Then, the state is fully Reconstructed

Tenure of Office Act (Mar 1867) & Johnson's Impeachment (Feb 1868)

Republicans relied on Edwin Stanton (Secretary of War) to support US Army's involvement in the South

Congress passed Tenure of Office Act (1867), preventing the president from firing federal officials w/o Senate's approval

Johnson defiantly fired Stanton, so Congress impeached him. Senate narrowly acquitted him. 

More States Readmitted to Union (Jun-Jul 1868)

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina were readmitted to the Union (Jun-Jul 1868)

In Georgia, Democrats removed 28 black congressmen from state legislature. Thus, Georgia was put again under military rule until Jul 1870

Presidential Election of 1868 (Nov 1868)

Republican Congressmen hoped they could have a president that doesn't veto all their plans

Former Union Gen. Ulysses S Grant (R) beat Horatio Seymour (D)

The margin was only 300,000 votes, so Congress wanted to give universal voting rights to Black men to boost their support

15th Amendment (Feb 1869)

Prohibits depriving citizens the right to vote based on color or race

Proposed by Republicans in Congress to boost Republican support in future elections

Forced the 4 unreconstructed states (GA, MS, TX, VA) to ratify it before readmission to Union. Ratified in Feb 1860

Republican Governments in the South

  • Many Blacks participated in Southern republican governments

    • Many were elected to local & state offices

    • Some were even elected to national office

    • Black voters were a majority of the electorate in AL, FL, LA, MS, and SC

  • Some whites were also Republican

    • "Carpetbeggars" were Whites ​who migrated from North to the South to find work

    • "Scalawags" were native Southern Whites who were Republican

      • Most were poor & supported centralized Yankee vision of life​

  • Black Republicans in the South passed laws to end discrimination

    • Created public schools, railroads, etc.​

    • Had few factions among them (compared to other political parties)

  • There was lots of violence toward Republicans

    • People would refuse to go to their businesses, they'd be attacked, etc.

  • Most Whites were Democrats & opposed Black equality

First Redeemer Governments (late 1869 - early 1870)

Tennessee becomes the first state to replace its Republican-dominated government with an all-white Democratic one (late 1869). 

Georgia and North Carolina soon create all-white Democratic governments (early 1870). 

US military returns to Georgia

Final Batch of States Readmitted to Union (Jan - Jul 1870)

Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia were readmitted to the Union in 1870

This was the 2nd time Georgia was readmitted because US army had to go back there after White Democrats unseated the Black Republicans from state congress. 

The Enforcements Acts / KKK Acts (1870 - 1871)


Meant to preserve Black voting rights & prevent voter intimidation (especially by KKK). Known as Enforcement Acts, Force Acts, or Ku Klux Klan Acts

Enforcement Act of 1870:

Banned discrimination of voter registration based on race or color. Allowed federal marshals to enforce the act

Enforcement Act of 1871:

Allowed federal government to supervise state & local elections in a town of >20k residents

Ku Klux Klan Act (1871):

Allowed president to use militias to suppress any anti-Black activity. Gave federal courts the right to incriminate anti-Black discrimination

End of Reconstruction


End of Freedmen's Bureau (Jul 1872)

  • Freedmen's Bureau had many successes but was unsuccessful in the long term

    • White southerners still believed Blacks to be inferior & wouldn't respect Black equality

      • You cannot change the opinion of millions of White southerners in a few years (obviously)​

    • Many of the achievements made toward Black integration were undone

      • Some Whites reacquired the land given the Blacks

      • Many White Democrats retook Southern governments

      • Whites still had lots of violence toward Blacks

  • In Jul 1872, White Southerners pressured Congress to abolish the Freedmen's Bureau

    • It was also too expensive to maintain & had little reward, so Congress sought to abolish it

Election of 1872 (Nov 1872)

Liberal Republicans hated economic effects of Radical Reconstruction. They supported Democrats

Incumbent Ulysses S Grant (R) beat Horace Greeley (D)

After this, Democrats & Liberal Republicans gained support from those who opposed Radical Reconstruction

"Redemption" of Southern Governments by White Democrats (1872 - 1877)

  • White Southerners (Democrats) started to take over ("redeem") their state governments

    • Wanted to return to "home rule" of whites

    • Believed Radical Republicans to be corrupt

      • Believed Radical Reconstruction was hurting the economy​

    • Started in 1869 with Tennessee, but redemption gained momentum in 1872

  • Bands of white people (notably White Leagues and Red Shirts) invaded Republican capitol buildings

  • Louisiana witnessed lots of violence between Democrats & Republicans since 1872

    • In Governor election of 1872, both sides (Dems & Republicans) claimed victory​

    • Democratic Whites then killed hundreds of Blacks in the Colfax Massacre (1873)

    • In 1874, "White Leagues" (bands of White Democrats) invaded the capitol building

      • Pres. Grant used Federal troops to restore Republican government there

  • Most other states started "redeeming" their governments & returning White Democrat rule

    • All states had been "redeemed" by 1877

Slaughterhouse Cases (Apr 1873)

Louisiana gave a monopoly to a Slaughterhouse. Other slaughterhouses filed a lawsuit against the monopoly, claiming the 14th amendment allows them to freely conduct their labor

Court ruled in favor of the monopoly. Said that 14th amendment is limited to what's written in Constitution & doesn't include states' privileges to certain individuals



Thus, states can do things that favor certain people over another, and this wouldn't violate 14th amendment

Panic of 1873 (Sep 1873) & Congressional Election of 1874 (Nov 1874)

Panic of 1873:

Collapse in US railroad industry triggered huge financial panic that caused the stocks to fall. People blamed this on the Radical Reconstruction & the Republicans

Congressional Election of 1874:

Democrats took a majority in House of Representatives for the 1st time since Civil War


This was a significant event in decline of Reconstruction. Panic of 1873 made many people support Democrats over Republicans in favor of the economy

Civil Rights Act of 1875 (Mar 1875)

Equality of men before the law. Prohibited racial discrimination in public facilities, public transportation, & jury selection

Last federal civil rights law until Civil Rights Act of 1957

Declared unconstitutional by Supreme Court in 1883

Situation in Louisiana & Mississippi (1875)

After the situation in Louisiana with the "White Leagues" in 1874 (described above), Democrats tried to take control of the state gov by putting 5 assembly members in legislature

Louisiana's Republican governor ordered the US army to remove those unelected Democratic assembly members from their seats

This incident provoked backlash in the North as Northern Democrats (and even Republicans) were horrified by the idea of having troops forcibly ejecting legislators

In late 1875, "White Leagues" of Mississippi terrorized the Republican party there & sought to take control of the Republican state government

President Grant refused to send an army there to avoid the political backlash that happened when an army was sent to Louisiana earlier that year (described above)

Thus, Democrats took control of the Mississippi government. Just like this, Democrats took control of many Southern governments

Election of 1876 (Nov 1876) & Compromise of 1877 (Mar 1877)

Important Terms & People
  • Rutherford B Hayes (R) vs Samuel J Tilden (D)

    • Hayes was a Liberal Republican, believed in reforming Republican corruption & enacting​ laws that favor both Blacks & Whites

    • Tilden was similar to Hayes

  • Election result was disputed in 3 Southern states

    • South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana were the 3 only states where US army still remained

      • In these 3 states, the election result was disputed

    • If all 3 states voted for Hayes, he'd win by one electoral vote

      • "Red Shirts" sought to intimidate Blacks & prevent them from voting

      • However, enough Black voters turned out to give Hayes the victory in all 3 states

    • In the end, all 3 states gave electoral votes to Hayes, so he won by 1 point

  • Democrats dominated Congress & tried to slow down the inauguration & transition process

    • Sought to slow down electoral vote counting

  • Democrats & Republicans created a political compromise at Wormley's Hotel in DC

    • Democrats would allow Hayes (Republican) to win the election

    • However, federal troops must be removed from the 3 remaining Southern states (SC, FL, LA)

    • This is known as the Compromise of 1877

  • This Compromise ended Reconstruction as the last federal troops were removed from the South

Important Terms & People