Names & Terms in 
   Fasttrack to America's Past
   Section 5: Civil War and Reconstruction
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13th Amendment - the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery after the Civil War.  It was passed in 1865, and completed the action begun by the Emancipation Proclamation (1863), which declared slavery abolished in Confederate held areas.

14th Amendment - the constitutional amendment that officially 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 cannot take someone's life, liberty, or property without "due process" of law.  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 divided 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 passed after the Civil War that guaranteed blacks the right to vote.  This amendment 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 Republican party, since the votes of the freed slaves helped that party dominate national politics in the years after the war.

[40 Acres and a Mule - a term that describes a land reform plan supported by some Northern leaders after the Civil War to help freed slaves start a new life.  Under this proposal, land of the big plantations 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 simply taking plantation owners' land seemed wrong.
    The failure to adopt some land reform plan is considered one of the great failures of the era, since it left most slaves without property.]

Antietam - a famous Civil War battle in 1862, in which an attempt by the South to strike into Maryland was stopped near Sharpsburg at Antietam Creek.
    For the South, this represents the first shift from a defensive strategy to an offensive one.  Gen. Robert E. Lee marched his men to Antietam after a victory at Manassas called the Second Battle of Bull Run.  But this secret plans fell into the hands of the Union commander, Gen. George McClellan.
    After a bloody battle, Lee began retreating back to Virginia.  Incredibly, McClellan did nothing, and let a decisive victory slip away.

Appomattox Court House - the town in Virginia where Gen. Robert E. Lee  surrendered, ending the Civil War in April of 1865.  It is to the east of Lynchburg, 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 not continue the war.  The surrender was made in a private house borrowed for the occasion.

Black Codes - laws passed in Southern states after the Civil War that restricted travel and other activities of freed slaves.
    The laws varied, and some provided for limited rights.  But generally, they deprived blacks of key civil rights.  Many barred 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 slavery.  Northerners felt the laws were proof that Southern whites intended to keep 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 an area or country.  The North created a blockade of the South by placing a line of ships off the coast of the Confederacy.  These ships cut off most cotton exports, 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 could be made doing this, but it carried big risks.

Booth, John Wilkes - the man who assassinated President Abraham 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 involved in the conspiracy were hanged after a trial.

Bull Run - the site of the first real battle of the Civil War, near Manassas, Va., in July 1861.  The name is that of a creek in the area.
    Union leaders launched the attack in hope of taking the Manassas railway junction.  They planned to march on to Richmond, Va., capital of the Confederacy.
    Early in the fighting, the Union troops appeared to be winning.  Battlefield confusion and determined Southern resistance 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 watching an easy victory.

carpetbagger - the derogatory term for Northerners who came to 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 crooked ways to profit from holding public office. 
    Carpetbaggers and Southern blacks were usually Republicans, and held considerable power in the Southern states in the Reconstruction era.

Copperheads - the nickname for Northerners, usually Democratic 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 settlement.
    Named after the poisonous snake, most opposed President Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864, and supported the Democratic Party nominee, Gen. George McClellan.

Davis, Jefferson - president of the Confederate States of America during the 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 it would be a mistake to put him on trial and "refight" the Civil War in court.  He never sought an official pardon after the war.

Emancipation Proclamation - the order issued by President Abraham 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 slavery 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 Charleston, S.C., where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in April 1861.
    Before South Carolina seceded and formed the Confederacy, the fort was part of the coastal defense system of the U.S.  The Confederate 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 surrender.
    The incident prompted President Abraham Lincoln to ask for  volunteers for the Union army, which prompted four "border" states including Virginia to join the Confederacy.

Freedmen's Bureau - an agency set up by the U.S. government at the close of the Civil War to help the freed slaves.  It offered help of various kinds, including education and resolving disputes with employers. 
    The Bureau also helped many white Southerners impoverished by the war.  It did impressive work, but lacked the resources to solve all the problems left at the end of the war.

Gettysburg - 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 Pennsylvania in hopes of forcing Northern troops to pull back from their attack on Vicksburg on the Mississippi River.  (They didn't.)  Lee's forces met a Union army almost by accident in Gettysburg.  After two days of fighting 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 scene.  It was at the dedication of the cemetery that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous address.

Grant, Ulysses S.- the most famous of the Union military leaders during the Civil War.  He was later elected president.  Grant drew notice as the Union leader who saved the day for the Union troops at Shiloh.  He also commanded the army that took Vicksburg.  In 1864, he was named 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 Southern 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 "conviction."  It does not.  After the House of Representatives votes for impeachment, a trial is held by the Senate.  President Andrew Johnson was impeached and tried in 1868, but not convicted.

ironclads - the steam powered ships covered with iron plates first used in the Civil War. 
    The most famous of the ironclads were the Merrimac (renamed the Virginia) and the Monitor.  The South created the Virginia from the hull of the Merrimac, a wood ship they 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 ships were over.

Johnson, 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 protect 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 violating the law.  After being impeached (accused) by the House of Representatives, 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 seceded.

Ku Klux Klan - an organization of whites that terrorized blacks in the South after the Civil War.  The goal of the Klan, and several similar organizations, was to stop blacks from voting.  Many whites refused to accept any form of equality for blacks, and especially resented blacks who held political office.
    Klan members claimed they were only trying to protect the safety and rights of Southern whites in the postwar years.  But the widespread  violence against blacks showed that their real goal 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.

Lee, Robert E. - the most famous of the Southern military leaders in the Civil War.  As the crisis began, Lee was actually offered the command of the Union Army.  He personally opposed slavery.  But when Virginia seceded and joined the Confederacy, Lee decided he could not fight against his native state. 
    He led the attacks at Antietam and Gettysburg, and surrendered at Appomattox Court House.  After the surrender, he called on his men to lay aside the bitterness of the war, and rejoin the Union.  Lee himself later became president of a small college in Virginia.

Lincoln, Abraham - president of the U.S. during the Civil War years.  His election in the four-way race in 1860 led to the secession of South Carolina from the Union. 
    Lincoln is famous as a "self-made man" who grew up in 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 road” 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 slavery.
    The Democratic Party split into a Northern wing and a Southern wing over the slavery issue, with each nominating candidates.  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 candidates split the votes from the southern and “border” states.  In fact, Lincoln 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 elected, but over time his unusual dignity and humanity won many to his side.  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 U.S. Congress after the Civil War who favored policies to force radical changes in Southern life and politics.
    These congressmen and senators feared that Southern whites intended to restore much the same sort of society that existed before the war.  They pointed to Black Codes and violence against freed slaves as proof that big changes were needed.
    Immediately after the war, President Andrew Johnson held the Radicals somewhat in check.  After 1867, however, the Radicals had a large enough majority in Congress to override presidential vetoes.  They began passing legislation, such as the Reconstruction Acts, aimed at protecting the rights of freed slaves and punishing the former Confederates.
    Congressman Thaddeus Stevens was a key Radical Republican.

Reconstruction Acts - a series of laws passed after the Civil 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 vetoes.  This allowed them to take control of Reconstruction issues.
    The Radicals passed several Reconstruction Acts.  One divided the South into military districts, each with a military governor.  Southerners who had fought for the Confederacy were deprived of the right to vote.
    Southern states also had to write new constitutions guaranteeing black voting rights.  They also had to vote to approve the 14th Amendment.  At that point, each state would be restored to the Union.  By 1870, all were restored.

segregation - a term usually used for the separation of people by race, either by law or custom.  Laws enforcing segregation of blacks from whites became common in the South in the decades after the Civil War.  Railroads, for example, had cars designated for blacks, and separate schools were kept.  A famous legal case, Plessey vs. Ferguson (1896), held that separate segregated facilities were legal, provided they were equal.
    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 movement successfully fought the pattern.

sharecropping - the term for the system of farm labor that grew 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 land owned by someone else, with the "rent" in the form of a share of the crop at harvest time.  The owner provided the land, seed, and tools, and 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 General William Sherman from Atlanta to Savannah and into the Carolinas in late 1864 and early 1865.  Sherman's troops cut a path up to 60 miles wide, destroying everything in their path.  His goal was to break the will of the South, and end the war quickly.
    Civilians were not killed.  But the move to this "total war" raised serious moral issues, because armies usually avoided deliberate destruction of civilian areas.

Shiloh - the site of a battle on the Tennessee River in 1862, the second year of the Civil War.  It is famous as an important Northern victory in this stage of the war near the Mississippi River.
    Shiloh shocked leaders on both sides for the incredible casualties, which numbered more than ten thousand on each side.  Hopes for a quick war were dashed.

Washington, Booker T. - a former slave from Virginia who became famous as an educator 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 Institute in Alabama.  He pushed for industrial and trade schooling for blacks to teach job skills.  He felt this was of more immediate importance than academic oriented schooling.
    Washington felt that blacks should seek economic gains, rather than push for immediate social equality.  He won financial support from wealthy whites, but was criticized by some black leaders for not opposing segregation more forcefully.

 

 
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