Reconstruction Timeline


Bureau of Indian Affairs

1863 - 1877

This was an agency that administrated the management of 55,700,000 acres of land held by the United States for Native Americans. They were in charge of providing health care to Indians as well as land and other necessities of life.

Great American Desert


This was a term used in the 19th century to describe the western Great Plains. The region had a lack of water and wood.

Territorial Ring


Territorial rings were corrupt associations of local politicians and business owners with federal patronage who stole from Indian tribes and local citizens.

Transcontinental Railroad

1863 - 1869

This railroad connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the first time. This railroad was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 and revolutionized the population and economy of the west. It cemented manifest destiny and was probably the most ambitious American technological feats of the 19th century.

Mining Communities


Mining communities were communities that housed miners. A settlement could only be considered a mining community if a mine existed directly at the settlement or in the close area and if the population relied on the mine economically. Many Mining communities are now ghost towns.

Sand Creek Massacre

November 29, 1864

This was when 700 Colorado Territory militiamen attacked and destroyed a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho in Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating around 70–163 Indians, mostly women and children.



With the building of the Transcontinental Railroads, it became possible to transport longhorns to the eastern market that had developed a taste for beef. Cowboys herded these animals towards trains, and they were brought from there to the east coast by train.

Red Cloud


Red Cloud was a war leader and a chief of the Sioux. He led as a chief from 1868 to 1909. He led a successful campaign known as Red Cloud's War over control of the Powder River Country in Wyoming and Montana.

Midway Islands

August 28, 1867

The Midway Islands are almost exactly in the middle of the US and Japan and were spotted by Captain Middlebrooks. Settlement was attempted in 1871 to create a coaling station but was a failure.

Seward's Folly

October 18, 1867

Seward's Folly was when Seward Purchased Alaska. Many Republicans thought this purchase was stupid, but based their opinions on their hostility towards Steward and Johnson, not the actual purchase.



Coolies were Asian slaves or manual laborers.

Invention of Barbed Wire


Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire in 1873. Barbed wire was another way source of fencing that many farmers used to control their cattle.

George A Custer


Gaining his strong reputation in the Civil War, Custer also fought in the Indian Wars. Custer and all the men with him were killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 against Indians in battle that is also known as "Custer's Last Stand."

Crazy Horse

June 1876

Leader of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) Crazy Horswe fought for his peoples' land fiercely. He led and won the Battle of Little Bighorn. Crazy Horse surrendered in 1877 to a US general, but was killed because he was supposedly resisting imprisonment.

Battle of Little Bighorn

June 25 1876 - June 26 1876

This was a battle of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the US against the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho together. It was the biggest action of the Great Sioux War of 1876 and was a victory for the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by war leaders such as Crazy Horse and Gall.

Chief Joseph


Leader of a band of Nez Perce in Oregon, Chief Joseph led his people during the time of when they were forcibly removed from their native land. He also led them through a 1,170-mile fighting retreat by the Nez Perce in 1877 known as the Nez Perce War.

Denis Kearney


Kearney was a California labor leader who was known for his nativist and racist views about Chinese immigrants. He is known for ending all of his speeches with the sentence “And whatever happens, the Chinese must go.”



Because the plains had deep grass roots that could only be broken and brought up if a special steel plow was used, the farmers that used these plows were called sodbusters. Sodbusters used tough sod to build their homes, butned buffalo chips and corncobs for cooking and heating, and fenced land with barbed wire for their cattle.



Polygamy, the practice of having more than one spouse, was practiced abundantly within the Mormon religion especially in Utah. For Utah to become a state they had to outlaw polygamy. Republican anti-polygamists compared polygamous husbands to Southern slaveholders.

Chinese Exclusion Act

May 6 1882

This act suspended Chinese immigration, and was intended to only last 10 years but wasn't repealed until 1943.



The Buffalo were the Indians main source of food, clothing, and shelter before the white people came. They followed the buffalo on their migratory path. During the Indian wars, the government encouraged the slaughter of buffalo to rid of the Indians’ food and housing resources to make them easier to fight. Buffalo numbers dropped from 50 million before the Indian Wars to 15 million by 1868, and less than 1,000 by 1885.



Leader of Apache Indians, he led his people in the Apache Wars against Mexico and later surrendered in 1886 and became a celebrity appearing in fairs, but regretting his surrender.

Dawes Severalty Act


The Dawes Act of 1887 adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President to survey Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians.

Range Wars


Range wars were wars between cattle herders, sheep grazers, and homesteaders. Homesteaders plowed up prarie land and laced plains with barbed wire, and cattle ranchers responded by fencing off huge tracts of land for themselves. Sheep graxed on grass to the roots creating overgrazed ranges. The three groups fought over land and water rights often.

Wounded Knee Massacre

December 29 1890

This was the last battle of the American Indian Wars between U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel Whitside and some Lakota men. When a shot came supposedly from a deaf Indian, the 7th Cavalry started shooting, killing men women and children.

Utah Statehood

January 4 1896

Utah changed from a territory to a state on January 4, 1896 on the condition that polygamy would be banned, a way of life because of the Mormons in the territory.



1863 - 1869

A group of Southern Whites who supported Reconstruction and the republican Party.

Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan

1863 - 1866

Lincoln's Reconstruction Plan included many lenient ways of getting the Confederates back into the Union and the America and their slaves back on their feet. It included the 10% Plan, the Freedmen's Bureau, and other regulations to keep from discrimination of the new black citizens.



Lynching was the practice of killing people by mob action and was very controversial during the reconstruction period. It is often associated with white supremacy.

10 Percent Plan

December 1863

Abraham Lincoln's Plan to get the states re-initiated. A state could be brought back into the Union if 10% of their male population accepted took an oath of allegiance to the Union, and accepted emancipation.

Wade-Davis Bill

July 1864

Radical Republicans (Ben Wade and Henry Davis) in Congress propose the Wade Davis Bill as an alternative to Lincoln's 10 Percent Plan. Lincoln pocket-vetoes it because re-admittance was made more difficult.


1865 - 1877

This was a pejorative term Southerners gave to Northerners who moved to the South during Reconstruction. They were seen as Northern outsiders with questionable objectives meddling in local politics, buying up plantations at fire-sale prices and taking advantage of Southerners.

40 Acres and a Mule

January 16, 1865

This was a policy shortly after the war that gave freedmen 40 acres of land and a mule. Sherman's Special Field Orders No. 15 is what originally gave them the land, and then some also were granted mules by the army. When Johnson became president the policy was revoked.

Freedmen's Bureau

March 1865 - 1872

Freedmen's Bureau was a U.S. federal government agency that aided distressed freedmen (freed slaves) during Reconstruction. It was dis banned by Grant.

Lincoln's Assassination

April 14 1865

While Lincoln is watching a comedy at Ford's Theater, he is shot and eventually killed by John Wilks Booth.

Joint Committee on Reconstruction

December 13, 1865

This Committee was created to discuss the re-admittance of the Confederate states, and also drafted the 14th Amendment. They decided if the previously Confederate states were in good enough condition for, or should be qualified enough, for re-admittance.

Johnson's Presidential Reconstruction

1866 - 1869

As Johnson became president radical Republicans believed he would be very strict with his plan, but instead was very lenient. He pardoned many prior Confederates and defied many Reconstruction laws previously passed.

Tenure of Office Act

March 3, 1867

This restricted Johnson (and all Presidents) to be able to remove office holders without approval of the Senate.

Johnson Impeachment

February 24, 1868

Johnson was accused of "high crimes and misdemeanors" mostly because of his violation of the Tenure in Office Act (which Congress put in place because they knew it would be broken). Chase was the Chief Justice for the trial. Johnson was acquitted.

Fourteenth Amendment

July 9, 1868

Overruling the Dred Scott decision, this Amendment gave citizenship (Citizenship Clause) to all males, without discrimination of color of skin. It also established the Due Process Clause, making states not deprive people of their natural rights.

National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA)

May 15, 1869

Started in New York by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, opposed the 15th Amendment unless it included women. It worked to create a federal constitutional emendment giving women civil rights and the right to vote, and it later joined with the American Woman Suffrage Association which strove to get women's rights state by state.


1870 - 1877

"Redeemers" and "Redemption" were terms used by white Southerners to describe a political coalition in the South. Redeemers were the southern wing of the Bourbon Democrats, the conservative, pro-business part in the Democratic Party, who sought to oust the Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags.

Fifteenth Amendment

February 3, 1870

This Amendment gave black citizens the right to vote.

Knox v Lee


This was a court case that deemed paper money legal tender through the Legal Tender Act. Mrs. Lee was a loyal citizen of the United States whose flock of sheep was sold by the Confederate army as they considered Mrs. Lee an 'alien enemy'. Mr. Knox purchased the sheep from the Confederate army. The Court instructed the jury that whatever amount they awarded could be paid with legal tender notes of the United States. Mr. Knox appealed, as he contended that this instruction was equivalent to telling the jury to add a premium for the discount of paper currency relative to specie.

Treaty of Washington

May 8, 1871

A treaty between United States and Britain, initiating friendly relations between the two nations. The treaty provides for an arbitration procedure to settle the Alabama claims, in which the United States demands that Britain pay for damages to American shipping during the Civil War caused by Confederate vessels built and equipped in England. The treaty also renews Canadian-American fishing arrangements

Credit Mobilier Scandal


This involved the Union Pacific Railroad and Credit Mobilier construction company. The Union Pacific made contracts with Crédit Mobilier to build the Union Pacific railway. Crédit Mobilier used these checks to buy stock and bonds in the Union Pacific at par value. They sold the bonds on the open market to make huge profits. Also Congressmen Oakes Ames (head of CM) offered to members of Congress shares of stock in Crédit Mobilier at its discounted value rather than the market value, which was much higher.

Panic 1873

1873 - 1879

The Panic od 1873 was a financial crisis that triggered and economic depression in Europe and the United States. It was caused by a fall in demand for silver internationally. Post-war inflation, huge investments in railroads, a large trade deficit, property losses in Chicago and Boston fires also contributed.

Whisky Ring


This was a scandal a group of mostly Republican politicians were able to get millions of dollars in federal taxes on liquor. It involved lots of bribes involving everything whiskey related.

Compromise of 1877


This was an unwritten compromise the settled 1876 presidential election (Republican Hayes v Democrat Tilden) and ended reconstruction in the south. Republican Hayes became president on terms that all federal troops would be removed from the Confederate States, at least one Southern Democrat had to be in Hayes's cabinet, another transcontinental railroad using Texas and Pacific in the South, and legislation to help industrialize the South and get them back on their feet. In exchange Democrats would peacefully accept Hayes's presidency.



A faction of the Republican Party and led by Roscoe Conkling, the Stalwarts were a group that ran against the Half Breeds. Stalwarts depended deeply on machine politics. The Half Breeds nominated James Garfield in the election of 1880, with a compromise making Chester Arthur his VP. When Garfield was shot (by a Stalwart) Arthur became president.

Pendleton Civil Service Reform

January 16 1883

This was a law signed by President Arthur and introduced by George Pendleton that said that government jobs should be awarded because of merit not just given to people because of political affiliation.


Crop-lien system


This was a credit system that was widely used by farmers. Because they had little cash they got credit before planting season but was still able to get food and supplies based of the anticipated amount of crops. Credit was paid to merchants and interest was charged. It ended in the early 1900's due to cars and higher cotton prices.

Black Codes

1865 - 1868

These were laws that limited civil rights of blacks, especially in the South. They included rules like not letting black people have firearms, or be out after dark without permission.

Civil Rights Act of 1866

April 9, 1866

Protected civil rights (equality) of African Americans. Originally vetoed by Johnson, Congress overcame it. It failed to immediately secure the rights because it wasn't enforced.

Memphis Riots of 1866

May 1 1866 - May 3 1866

These were racial riots between white policemen and black soldiers that lasted three days and killed 48 people.

Command of Army Act


An act that forced Andrew Johnson to issue military orders through the general of the army (Ulysses S. Grant) instead of directly to the south.

Reconstruction Acts

March 2 1867

These acts were "An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States".

W. E. B. Du Bois


Du Bois was a sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author, and editor. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard) and became a professor at Atlanta University. He was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Klu Klux Klan Acts (Force Acts)

1870 - 1871

The Force Acts were aimed mostly at limiting the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. Through the acts, actions committed with the intent to influence voters, prevent them from voting, or conspiring to deprive them of civil rights, including life, were made federal offenses.

Sharecropping/Tenant Farmers


This was a system in which a landowner allowed a tenant to use land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land. This was a way for freedmen to work on the land and pay for it, often with their previous slave owners. Tenant farmers were different because they rented the land, had his own mule and tools, and recieved half the crop. At the end of the 1860's white men also became sharecroppers.

Jim Crow Laws


These laws deemed racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy, with, starting in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. Often African American facilities weren't actually equal.

Social Darwinism


Darwinism is the belief that conflict between groups in society leads to social progress as superior groups outcompete inferior ones ( like survival of the fittest in nature). In 1883, Sumner published a pamphlet called "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other", saying that the social classes owe each other nothing. According to Sumner, those who feel an obligation to provide help to those under-equipped to compete for resources, will lead to a country in which the weak and inferior are encouraged to breed more like them, eventually dragging the country down. Sumner also believed that the best equipped to win the struggle for existence was the American businessman, and concluded that taxes and regulations serve as dangers to his survival. .

Booker T Washington


Booker T Washington was an African American educator, author, and adviser to Republican presidents. He spoke on behalf of the large majority of blacks who lived in the South but had lost their ability to vote through disfranchisement by southern legislatures.

Atlanta Compromise


The Atlanta compromise was an agreement between African-American leaders and Southern white leaders that said Southern blacks would work meekly and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic education and due process in law; blacks would not agitate for equality, integration, or justice, and Northern whites would fund black educational charities.