Civil War timeline

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Compromise of 1850

1850

The Compromise of 1850 was a set of five bills that ended a four-year confrontation. The North got California and made it a free state, slave trade being prohibited in Washington D.C., and Texas lost its boundary dispute with New Mexico. The South received no slavery restrictions in Utah or New Mexico territories and fugitive slavery.

Bleeding Kansas

1854

Often called the Border War, Bleeding Kansas refers to the series of violent political disputes involving anti-slavery/pro-slavery events which took place in the Kansas Territory. One of the most pressing questions was whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state if it entered the Union. The Missouri Compromise influenced this.

Dred Scott Decision

1857

The decision held that that the federal government didn't have the power to regulate slavery in the territories, and that people of African descent were not protected by the constitution and were not citizens of the United States. Some consider the decision the worst made by the Supreme Court. The decision was made in order to halt slavery's expansion, but it only fueled it.

Lincoln- Douglas Debates

1858

From August 21 until October 15, 1858, Stephen Douglas battled Abraham Lincoln in face to face debates throughout the state. The prize they sought was a position as a senator. Lincoln challenged Douglas to a war of ideas. Douglas took the challenge. The debates were to be held at 7 locations throughout Illinois. The fight was on and the nation was watching. Douglas wanted popular sovereignty and eventually won the senate seat.

Raid of Harpers Ferry

1859

John Brown wanted to establish a base in the Blue Ridge Mountains from which they would aid runaway slaves and launch attacks on slaveholders. Brown assembled an army and went up to Harper's Ferry and killed a substantial amount people. They held out sixty citizens as hostages and hoped other slaves would join but no slaves came forth. John Brown was pinned down by local militia, was taken, and was executed.

Election of Abraham Lincoln

1860

The election was held on November 6, 1860 and served as the immediate cause of the Civil War. The Southern states that succeeded were able to vote in the election and Lincoln received enough support in the North to win the Presidential election.

Fort Sumter

1861

The Battle of Fort Sumter started the Civil War. South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. The U.S. Army did not like that and sent troops to Fort Sumter on Charleston Harbor. South Carolina authorities then seized all Federal property in the Charleston area, except for Fort Sumter.

Battle of Bull Run

1861

The Battle of Bull Run was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia. It was the first major land battle of the American Civil War. The North wanted to march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. They led the army across Bull Run against an equally inexperienced Confederate Army. This is where Thomas Jackson obtained his nickname "Stonewall" as the confederates proceeded to win the battle.

Antietam

1862

On September 16, 1862, General George B. McClellan and his Union Army of the Potomac confronted Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Sharpsburg, Maryland. While the Battle of Antietam is considered a draw from a military point of view, Abraham Lincoln and the Union actually claimed victory.

Vicksburg

1863

The Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, also called the Siege of Vicksburg, was the culmination of a long land and naval campaign by Union forces to capture a key strategic position during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln recognized the significance of the town above the Mississippi River. Capturing Vicksburg would sever the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy from that east of the Mississippi River and open the river to Northern traffic along its entire length.

Emancipation Proclamation

1864

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1864. It proclaimed all slaves in Confederate territory to be forever free. The army was ordered to treat those slaves in ten states that were still in rebellion, as equal, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. The Proclamation lifted the spirits of African Americans both in the Southern and Northern States.

Andersonville Prison

1864

Andersonville is also known as Camp Sumpter and held more prisoners at any given time than any of the other Confederate prisions. It was built in 1864 to move the large number of federal prisoners in a place of greater security and more abundant food. It was the largest prison of the time.

The 13th Amendment

1865

The 13th Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865. It abolished slavery in the United States and provides that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Assassination of Lincoln

1865

The assassination occurred on Good Friday, 1865 at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. It was five days after Robert E. Lee had surrendered to the Union Army. It was carried out by a well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln was shot while watching the play "Our American Cousin". His assassination had a long-lasting impact upon the United States, and he was mourned throughout the country in both the North and South. Booth was obviously a Confederate supporter, and was executed.

Appomattox

1865

The Battle of Appomattox Courthouse was one of the final battles of the war in which Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army. Lee's final stand was at Appomattox Court House, where he launched an attack to break through the Union force to his front, assuming the Union force consisted entirely of cavalry. When he realized that the cavalry was backed up by two corps of Union infantry, he had no choice but to surrender.

The Gettysburg Address

1865

It is very ironic that Lincoln did not think that this address would be remembered at all, but it is now one of the best known in American history. It was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, about four months after the Union defeated the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle saw the largest number of casualties in the Civil War. It is often considered the war's turning point in favor of the Union.

Black Codes

1866

The Black Codes were laws in the US after the Civil War, that limited the rights and liberties of blacks, mainly in the South. These were the beginning of the Jim Crow laws. The term "Black Codes" is used most often to refer to legislation passed by Southern states at the end of the Civil War to control the labor, migration and other activities of newly-freed slaves

The 14th Amendment

1866

The 14th amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868 during the Reconstruction era. Its broad goal was to ensure that the Civil Rights Act passed in 1866 would remain valid ensuring that all persons born in the US were citizens and were to be given full and equal benefit of all laws.

The 15th Amendment

1869

The 15th amendment protects the rights of Americans to vote in elections to elect their leaders. Specifically, it confirms the right to vote and lists conditions that are illegal to deny another person the right to vote. Any American cannot be denied the right to vote, based on race, color or being a former slave.