|13th Amendment - the constitutional
abolished slavery after the Civil War. It was passed in 1865, and
completed the action begun by the Emancipation Proclamation (1863),
declared slavery abolished in Confederate held areas.
14th Amendment - the constitutional amendment that
made the former slaves citizens of the U.S. after the Civil War.
Another key provision prohibits states from denying
any citizen "equal protection" of the law. It says that states
take someone's life, liberty, or property without "due process" of
This protection was vitally important to freed slaves.
Initially, most Southern states refused to accept
the 14th Amendment. Partly as a result, the U.S. Congress
the South into military districts, and required the Southern states to
adopt the 14th amendment in order to be readmitted as states.
The 14th is considered one of the most important
amendments because it indirectly forces states to abide by many of the
principles listed in the federal Bill of Rights.
15th Amendment - the constitutional amendment
Civil War that guaranteed blacks the right to vote. This
affected not only freed slaves in the South, but also blacks living in
the North, who generally had not been allowed to vote.
The amendment was especially favored by the
party, since the votes of the freed slaves helped that party dominate
politics in the years after the war.
[40 Acres and a Mule - a term that describes a
supported by some Northern leaders after the Civil War to help freed
start a new life. Under this proposal, land of the big
would be divided up into 40 acre parcels, which would be given to freed
slaves. A mule would be given as well to pull plows.
In a few areas, the plan was tried. But it
never went forward as a general policy, mainly because the idea of
taking plantation owners' land seemed wrong.
The failure to adopt some land reform plan is
one of the great failures of the era, since it left most slaves without
Antietam - a famous Civil War battle in 1862, in
by the South to strike into Maryland was stopped near Sharpsburg at
For the South, this represents the first shift from
a defensive strategy to an offensive one. Gen. Robert E. Lee
his men to Antietam after a victory at Manassas called the Second
of Bull Run. But this secret plans fell into the hands of the
commander, Gen. George McClellan.
After a bloody battle, Lee began retreating back
to Virginia. Incredibly, McClellan did nothing, and let a
victory slip away.
Court House - the town in Virginia where Gen. Robert E. Lee
ending the Civil War in April of 1865. It is to the east of
not far from the present day city of Appomattox.
As Union forces attacked Richmond, Gen. Lee and
his army fled west along the Appomattox River. Lee surrendered to
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after concluding that the Southern forces could
continue the war. The surrender was made in a private house
for the occasion.
Black Codes - laws passed in Southern states after
War that restricted travel and other activities of freed slaves.
The laws varied, and some provided for limited
But generally, they deprived blacks of key civil rights. Many
blacks from juries and from testifying against white people. Some
required that blacks have proof of employment.
Whites claimed the laws were needed to deal with
a population of freed slaves who had little knowledge of life outside
Northerners felt the laws were proof that Southern whites intended to
former slaves in a second-class status forever.
(These are not the same as Jim Crow laws, which
came some years later to enforce segregation of the races.)
blockade - blocking of trade (usually by sea) of
area or country.
The North created a blockade of the South by placing a line of ships
the coast of the Confederacy. These ships cut off most cotton
and stopped much of the war material headed in.
The South responded by building blockade runners,
fast ships that tried to slip through the blockade. A fortune
be made doing this, but it carried big risks.
Booth, John Wilkes - the man who assassinated
Lincoln immediately after the Civil War in 1865.
Booth was an actor, and plotted with others to kill
the president at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. Although not
a Southerner, he supported the Confederate cause. Booth fled, but
was later shot while attempting to hide. A number of others
in the conspiracy were hanged after a trial.
Bull Run - the site of the first real battle of
near Manassas, Va., in July 1861. The name is that of a creek in
Union leaders launched the attack in hope of taking
the Manassas railway junction. They planned to march on to
Va., capital of the Confederacy.
Early in the fighting, the Union troops appeared
to be winning. Battlefield confusion and determined Southern
helped defeat the Northern attack. "Stonewall" Jackson, a famous
Southern military leader, got his nickname here.
Many Northern troops fled back to Washington, D.C.,
in panic, along with sight seers who had come in expectation of
an easy victory.
carpetbagger - the derogatory term for Northerners
the South after the Civil War. Some came to do good. Others
came to take advantage of the situation after the war. Some used
the votes of black voters to get themselves elected, and figured out
ways to profit from holding public office.
Carpetbaggers and Southern blacks were usually
and held considerable power in the Southern states in the
Copperheads - the nickname for Northerners,
Party members, who opposed fighting the South.
They generally felt the South had a right to secede,
and that the war was a waste of lives. They favored a negotiated
Named after the poisonous snake, most opposed
Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864, and supported the Democratic
nominee, Gen. George McClellan.
Jefferson - president of the Confederate States of America during
Civil War. He was active in politics and served as a U.S. Senator
from Mississippi before the war.
After the war, he was held for two years in prison,
but was never brought to trial for treason. Some Northerners were
angry about the fact that he was not hanged, but others realized that
would be a mistake to put him on trial and "refight" the Civil War in
He never sought an official pardon after the war.
Emancipation Proclamation - the order issued by
Lincoln in 1862 (effective Jan. 1863) that declared slaves free in the
areas still held by the Confederates.
It did not free slaves in Southern areas held by
the Union, or in Union slave states like Maryland.
Since Lincoln could not enforce the order in the
areas still held by Confederates, the proclamation did not free anyone
immediately. Still, it was a clear statement that the end of
was at hand.
From a war strategy standpoint, making slavery an
issue in the war helped keep England from siding with the South.
Fort Sumter - an island fort in the harbor of
where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in April 1861.
Before South Carolina seceded and formed the
the fort was part of the coastal defense system of the U.S. The
states expected the U.S. government to evacuate the fort, since it was
in Southern territory.
When U.S. forces holding the fort refused to leave,
South Carolina began shelling it, forcing the Union troops to
The incident prompted President Abraham Lincoln
to ask for volunteers for the Union army, which prompted four
states including Virginia to join the Confederacy.
Freedmen's Bureau - an agency set up by the U.S.
the close of the Civil War to help the freed slaves. It offered
of various kinds, including education and resolving disputes with
The Bureau also helped many white Southerners
by the war. It did impressive work, but lacked the resources to
all the problems left at the end of the war.
- the famous Civil War battle that resulted when the South attempted to
strike into the North in 1863. It is considered to be the turning
point of the conflict.
Gen. Robert E. Lee decided to press into
in hopes of forcing Northern troops to pull back from their attack on
on the Mississippi River. (They didn't.) Lee's forces met a
Union army almost by accident in Gettysburg. After two days of
and heavy casualties, Lee began retreating. There was no pursuit
by the Union army.
Bodies remained unburied for months, prompting a
scandal and a decision to create a national cemetery on the
It was at the dedication of the cemetery that President Abraham Lincoln
delivered his famous address.
Ulysses S.- the most famous of the Union military leaders during
Civil War. He was later elected president. Grant drew
as the Union leader who saved the day for the Union troops at
He also commanded the army that took Vicksburg. In 1864, he was
general in chief of all Union armies.
His motto: "When in doubt, fight!" Yet
Grant is also famous for the humanity he showed Lee's defeated army at
the final surrender. He sent food for the almost starving
troops, and allowed the men to keep their horses, so they would be able
to plant crops.
Grant was elected president in 1868. Although
honest himself, his years in office were rocked with scandal as several
underlings were caught in various crooked deals.
impeachment - the formal process of accusing a
president of serious
wrong-doing that would merit removal from office.
Many people think impeachment means
It does not. After the House of Representatives votes for
a trial is held by the Senate. President Andrew Johnson was
and tried in 1868, but not convicted.
ironclads - the steam powered ships covered with
first used in the Civil War.
The most famous of the ironclads were the Merrimac
(renamed the Virginia) and the Monitor. The South
the Virginia from the hull of the Merrimac, a wood ship
captured from the Union.
The North built the Monitor, described as
looking like "a cheese box on a raft."
These two ships met in a famous battle near Norfolk,
Va., in 1862. Neither ship was badly damaged, and the battle was
a draw. But everyone could see that the days of wooden naval
Andrew - vice-president under Abraham Lincoln, he became president
after Lincoln's assassination, and led the nation in the early years of
Reconstruction. He favored going easy on the South after the war,
but showed little interest in problems faced by the freed slaves.
He attempted to block a number of proposed federal laws designed to
the freed slaves' rights. The proposals, he felt, went beyond the
constitutional powers of the federal government.
As a result, his fellow Republicans in Congress,
the Radical Republicans, set up a legal dispute and accused him of
the law. After being impeached (accused) by the House of
the Senate held a trial, and he escaped conviction by one vote.
Before the Civil War, Johnson had been a senator
from Tennessee, but remained loyal to the Union even as his home state
Klux Klan - an organization of whites that terrorized blacks in the
South after the Civil War. The goal of the Klan, and several
organizations, was to stop blacks from voting. Many whites
to accept any form of equality for blacks, and especially resented
who held political office.
Klan members claimed they were only trying to
the safety and rights of Southern whites in the postwar years.
the widespread violence against blacks showed that their real
was maintaining white dominance.
The K.K.K. faded by the late 1800s, but reappeared
after 1900, and again in the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.
Robert E. - the most famous of the Southern military leaders in the
Civil War. As the crisis began, Lee was actually offered the
of the Union Army. He personally opposed slavery. But when
Virginia seceded and joined the Confederacy, Lee decided he could not
against his native state.
He led the attacks at Antietam and Gettysburg, and
surrendered at Appomattox Court House. After the surrender, he
on his men to lay aside the bitterness of the war, and rejoin the
Lee himself later became president of a small college in Virginia.
Abraham - president of the U.S. during the Civil War
election in the four-way race in 1860 led to the secession of South
from the Union.
Lincoln is famous as a "self-made man" who grew up
a log cabin in Indiana. He later became a lawyer in Illinois and
served one term in Congress in the 1840s.
Lincoln was nominated for president
in 1860 by the Republican Party. It had only recently been
formed, and took a “middle of the
position on slavery. Lincoln and the party itself called for
stopping the spread of slavery
into new territories, but did not call for the general abolition of
The Democratic Party split into a Northern wing
and a Southern wing over the slavery issue, with each nominating
A fourth party, called the Constitutional Union Party, basically tried
to avoid talking about slavery at all.
Lincoln won the contest with votes from northern
and western states solidly in his column, while the other three
split the votes from the southern and “border” states. In fact,
had so little support in the South that his name was not on the ballot
in many southern states.
The results, drawn so clearly along sectional lines,
were a reflection of the deep division that had grown between the North
and South, which soon after exploded in the Civil War.
Lincoln was ridiculed by some newspapers when first
but over time his unusual dignity and humanity won many to his
The Gettysburg Address captures this aspect of Lincoln well.
Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, just after
the end of the Civil War.
Radical Republicans - Republican members of the
after the Civil War who favored policies to force radical changes in
life and politics.
These congressmen and senators feared that Southern
whites intended to restore much the same sort of society that existed
the war. They pointed to Black Codes and violence against freed
as proof that big changes were needed.
Immediately after the war, President Andrew Johnson
held the Radicals somewhat in check. After 1867, however, the
had a large enough majority in Congress to override presidential
They began passing legislation, such as the Reconstruction Acts, aimed
at protecting the rights of freed slaves and punishing the former
Congressman Thaddeus Stevens was a key Radical
Reconstruction Acts - a series of laws passed
War by Radical Republicans in Congress that were aimed at breaking the
old patterns of life and politics in the South.
By 1867, two years after the war ended, the Radical
Republicans had enough votes in Congress to override presidential
This allowed them to take control of Reconstruction issues.
The Radicals passed several Reconstruction
One divided the South into military districts, each with a military
Southerners who had fought for the Confederacy were deprived of the
Southern states also had to write new constitutions
guaranteeing black voting rights. They also had to vote to
the 14th Amendment. At that point, each state would be restored
the Union. By 1870, all were restored.
segregation - a term usually used for the
by race, either by law or custom. Laws enforcing segregation of
from whites became common in the South in the decades after the Civil
Railroads, for example, had cars designated for blacks, and separate
were kept. A famous legal case, Plessey vs. Ferguson
(1896), held that separate segregated facilities were legal, provided
In the North, segregation of blacks into certain
jobs and neighborhoods was also common, although more a result of
custom than law.
Especially in the South, segregation remained a
reality for most blacks well into the 1960s, when the Civil Rights
successfully fought the pattern.
sharecropping - the term for the system of farm
in the South after the Civil War.
The sharecropper was a freed slave or poor white
who owned no land after the war. He agreed to work a parcel of
owned by someone else, with the "rent" in the form of a share of the
at harvest time. The owner provided the land, seed, and tools,
claimed perhaps half the crop.
Often, the sharecropper ended up in constant debt,
and in a situation not much better than slavery.
Sherman's March - the destructive march by Union
Sherman from Atlanta to Savannah and into the Carolinas in late 1864
early 1865. Sherman's troops cut a path up to 60 miles wide,
everything in their path. His goal was to break the will of the
and end the war quickly.
Civilians were not killed. But the move to
this "total war" raised serious moral issues, because armies usually
deliberate destruction of civilian areas.
Shiloh - the site of a battle on the Tennessee
the second year of the Civil War. It is famous as an important
victory in this stage of the war near the Mississippi River.
Shiloh shocked leaders on both sides for the
casualties, which numbered more than ten thousand on each side.
for a quick war were dashed.
Booker T. - a former slave from Virginia who became famous as an
and leader of African-Americans in the late 1800s.
After the Civil War, he went to Hampton Institute,
a school for blacks. He went on to become head of Tuskegee
in Alabama. He pushed for industrial and trade schooling for
to teach job skills. He felt this was of more immediate
than academic oriented schooling.
Washington felt that blacks should seek economic
gains, rather than push for immediate social equality. He won
support from wealthy whites, but was criticized by some black leaders
not opposing segregation more forcefully.