Bureau of Indian Affairs

1860 - 1900

This bureau was a federal department responsible for the administration that managed anything pertaining to Native Americans. This bureau was very corrupt, and made their decisions with the intent of only benefitting themselves. The government used this department as an excuse that they were helping the Indians, when they really weren't.

Mining Communities

1860 - 1900

Many mining communities were established across the West during this time period. These communities, along with railroad, cow, and farming towns, were among the most frequent settlements built. These communities were created because of all the mining opportunities that had been discovered across the U.S.


1860 - 1900

Sodbusters were farmers who moved onto the Great Plains in the late 1800s, and were named for plowing and working on the hard ground of the plains in order to plant their harvests. This showed that farming on the plains was very different from the South; the farmers had to adapt to a new, harsher climate than that of the South.

Range Wars

1860 - 1900

Range wars were a type of armed conflict in agrarian societies. These wars were caused from the dispute over control of open range cattle, or cattle that were allowed to graze freely. These wars continued to occur throughout the West until the implementation of the Fence Law, and the created of barbed wire.

Territorial Rings

1860 - 1900

Territorial rings were corrupt associations of local politicians and business owners buttressed with federal patronage, embezzled from Indian tribes and local citizens, especially in the Dakota and New Mexico territories. These groups negatively impacted the tribes living in these areas.

Blackfoot Indians

1860 - 1900

The Blackfoot Indian tribe lived across large areas of the Great Plains. This tribe, like most others, suffered greatly in the late 1800s from U.S. oppression.

Great American Desert


The term Great American Desert was used in the 19th century to describe the western part of the Great Plains east of the Rocky Mountains in North America. This term was part of the new Wild West era.

New States

1861 - 1896

Many new states were created in the second half of the 19th century, starting with Kansas in 1861 and ending with Utah in 1896. These states formed the new West.

Transcontinental Railroad

1863 - 1869

This railroad in the United States was a continuous line of track (formed by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads) that stretch horizontally across the whole country. The coming of the railroad resulted in the end of most of the far slower and more hazardous stagecoach lines and wagon trains, and it led to a great decline of traffic on the Oregon and California Trail, which had helped populate much of the West. However, more people were enticed to move West, now that the trip was safer and took less time.

Sand Creek Massacre

November 29, 1864

This massacre occurred in 1864 when a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a village of friendly Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating an estimated 70–163 Indians. This shows the terrible ways that the United States treated the Indians.


1866 - 1890

Texas Longhorns and the long drives northward to market made such an imprint on the 19th-century Western landscape that for many Americans today nothing else better defines the Old West. Between 1866 and 1890, an estimated 10 million cattle were driven along trails extending Northward from Texas.

Fetterman Massacre

December 21, 1866

The Fetterman Fight was a battle during Red Cloud's War on December 21, 1866, between the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians and soldiers of the United States army. The combined Indian forces won this skirmish. This battle was one of the many that were caused from tensions between the Indians and the U.S.


March 1, 1867

Nebraska became a state in 1867, splitting off from the Nebraska Territory. This was just one of the many states created during the Reconstruction era that formed the new West.

Red Cloud

1868 - 1909

Red Cloud was the leader of the Sioux tribe before Crazy Horse (1868 - 1909). He was a symbol to his powerful tribe of resistance.

Fence Laws


This law required crops to be fenced in. This law was aided with the invention of barbed wire in 1873.

George A. Custer

June 25, 1876

George Custer was a United States Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. His most famous battle is the one at which he died; the Battle of Little Bighorn. Custer took his 200 men up against an Indian force of 2,000-4,000. He was not the greatest nor the smartest commander.

Battle of Little Bighorn

June 25, 1876

The Battle of Little Bighorn was fought between the U.S. cavalry and the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The cavalry, led by George Custer, was comprised of 200 men. The Indian forces were comprised of 2,000-4,000. Custer, knowing these numbers, nevertheless led his troops into battle. One of his men was allowed to go because he was half-Indian; everyone else was killed. This battle led to more slaughtering of Indians, because back in the East, this looked like a massacre of Americans.

Crazy Horse

September 5, 1877

Crazy Horse was one of the main leaders of the Sioux tribe. He put up much resistance to the United States forces, but was finally defeated on September 5, 1877, when he was stabbed under a flag of truce. Crazy Horse was one of the memorable Indian chiefs that resisted the U.S. and fought valiantly for their tribe.

Chief Joseph

October 5, 1877

Chief Joseph was the leader of the Nez Perce tribe. He was defeated in October of 1877 when he surrendured his tribe to U.S. forces. He had been leading his tribe to Canada, where they could be free of U.S. rule; they never made it.

Denis Kearney

1878 - 1879

Denis Kearney was a California labor leader of the late 19th century who was known for his nativist and racist views about Chinese immigrants. He was most popular in the late 1870s, and then dropped back down in the 1880s. He helped fuel the negative views towards the Chinese immigrants.

Chines Exclusion Act 1882

May 6, 1882

This act was a law that contained revisions allowing the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration, a ban that was intended to last 10 years. It lasted longer than that, being repealed in 1943. This demonstrated the racism demonstrated towards the Chinese immigrants during this time period.


September 9, 1886

Geronimo was the leader of the Apache Indian tribe; he was known as the last chance for the Indian resistance movement. When Geronimo finally surrendured in 1886, he and other Apaches were sent as prisoners to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas. In his old age, Geronimo became famous; he even got to ride in Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 ingauguration parade.

Dawes Severalty Act


The Dawes Act authorized the President to survey Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual Indians. This had a negative effect on American Indians, as it ended their communal holding of property (with crop land often being privately owned by families or clans) by which they had ensured that everyone had a home and a place in the tribe.

Frederick Jackson Turner


Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian who argued that the moving western frontier shaped American democracy and the American character from the colonial era until 1890. This was a new concept, and not far off from the truth.

Wounded Knee Massacre

December 29, 1890

Wounded Knee Massacre occurred in 1890, when the Sioux had been captured by the U.S. and was giving up their weapons. One gun went off; it is unknown whether or not this was accidental. The U.S. opened fire on unarmed Sioux men, women, and children. After the battle, an estimated 150 Sioux lay dead. This shows how the Indians were mercilessly massacred for no reason by the U.S.


December 29, 1890

The Sioux was the most powerful of the remaining Indian tribes in the second half of the 1800s. The battle that marked the end of their tribe was the Wounded Knee Massacre, in which the U.S. opened fire on unarmed Sioux men, women, and children. After the battle, an estimated 150 Sioux lay dead.

Utah Statehood

January 4, 1896

Utah was the 45th state admitted to the Union. The Mormons wanted to create this state as their new home, but they were denied because of their practice of polygamy. With Brigham Young leading them, they put up a fight, but eventually banned polygamy. They reapplied for statehood, and this time they were allowed to become a state.


Abraham Lincoln

March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865

Lincoln was the 16th president. He was the first one from the Republican party, which had formed in 1856. He was president during the Civil War, and his main goal throughout his presidency was to keep the United States together.

West Virginia

June 20, 1863

West Virginia seceded from Confederate state Virginia during the Civil War because its inhabitants supported the Union.

Andrew Johnson

April 15, 1865 - March 4, 1869

Andrew Johnson was the 17th president. He was Lincoln's vice president, and he took over after Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was technically a Democrat, except his presidency proved that he wasn't part of either Democrat or Republican party. He was impeached but never removed.

Joint Committee on Reconstruction

December 13, 1865

The Joint Committee on Reconstruction was a joint committee of the United States Congress that played a major role in Reconstruction (established December 13, 1865). This committee, made up of Republicans, met to discuss the conditions in the former Confederate states, and to propose for legislation on letting them back in the Union. The Republicans were not in favor of the plan that neither Lincoln nor Johnson had created; they were calling for harsher terms upon the Confederacy.

First Civil Rights Act

April 9, 1866

This act was a federal law intended to protect the rights of the black people. This act was vetoed by Andrew Johnson in 1865, but was overridden by Congress and passed in 1886. This was the first time that Congress had overridden the president's decision.

Seward's Folly


Secretary of State William Seward bought Alaska in 1867, which was seen to the population as a block of ice. They weren't proud in the new purchase, which they soon dubbed "Seward's Folly."

Tenure of Office Act

March 3, 1867

This act was stated that the President could not fire someone without first consulting the Senate. This applied only to jobs that the Senate must approve before the job is filled. This act was put in place because Congress knew that Andrew Johnson would break it, and therefore they could impeach him.

Fourteenth Amendment

July 9, 1868

This amendment prohibited state and local governments from depriving anyone of life, liberty, or property. This was the amendment that granted citizenship to blacks.

Ulysses S. Grant

March 4, 1869 - March 4, 1877

Grant was the 18th president. He was formerly the commander of the Union Army during the Civil War, so naturally he was elected because of his popularity. He proved, however, to not be the best president for the United States. He caused the Panic of 1873.

Social Darwinism


This was an ideology of society that sought to apply biological concepts of Darwinism or of evolutionary theory to sociology and politics. This led to the concept that conflict between societal groups led to social progress, because the conflict created superior groups.

Fifteenth Amendment

February 3, 1870

The fifteenth amendment prohibited the U.S. governments from denying people the right to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." This amendment was directed towards the former black slaves; it left out women and Indians.

Knox v. Lee


This supreme court case ruled that making paper money legal tender through the Legal Tender Act did not conflict with Article One in the Constitution. This was important because it strengthened the argument of switching currency to paper and not specie.

Treaty of Washington

July 4, 1871

This was a treaty signed by the U.K. and the U.S. which regarded to issues about the Northwestern boundary line between the U.S. and Canada. This treaty was important because it decided how far Northward the U.S. would extend.

Credit Mobilier


This scandal involved the Union Pacific Railroad and the Credit Mobilier of America construction company in the building of the First Transcontinental Railroad. In 1868 Congressman Oakes Ames had distributed Credit Mobilier shares of stock to other congressmen, in addition to making cash bribes, during the Andrew Johnson presidency.

Panic of 1873

1873 - 1879

This was a financial crisis which triggered a severe international economic depression in both Europe and the United States that lasted until 1879. The panic was caused by the fall in demand for silver internationally. This showed that the gold/silver specie as currency was unstable.

Specie Resumption Act 1875

January 14, 1875

This act was a U.S. law that restored the nation's currency to gold through the redemption of previously unbacked United States Notes. The decision further constricted the nation's money supply and was seen by some as a factor of the Panic of 1873.

W.E.B. Du Bois


W.E.B. Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, author and editor. Du Bois rose to national prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, a group of African-American activists who wanted equal rights for blacks. This organization opposed the Atlanta Compromise.

Grandfather Clause


A grandfather clause is a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. The original grandfather clauses were contained in new state constitutions and Jim Crow laws passed in 1876.

Compromise of 1877


This compromise, also known as "The Great Betrayal," referred to an informal deal that settled the intensely disputed 1876 U.S. presidential election. Through the Compromise, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded the White House over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden on the understanding that Hayes would remove the federal troops whose support was essential for the survival of Republican state governments in South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana. This Compromise ended Reconstruction in the South.

Rutherford B. Hayes

March 4, 1877 - March 4, 1881

Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president. He was elected because of the Compromise of 1877, in which Hayes took all the votes away from Democratic nominee Tilden, with the promise that he would remove the military from the Southern states. This proved to be the end of Reconstruction.

Civil Rights Cases of 1883

October 15, 1883

The Civil Rights Cases of 1883 were five similar cases condensed into one for the Supreme Court to review. The Court held that Congress lacked the constitutional authority under the Fourteenth Amendment to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals and organizations, rather than state and local governments.

Booker T. Washington


Booker T. Washington was an African-American educator, author, orator, and adviser to Republican presidents. He was the dominant leader in the African-American community in the United States starting in 1890. He tried to bring awareness to the blacks in the South who had lost their ability to vote through disfranchisement by southern legislatures. This showed that people did know what was going on in the South, but nothing was done to fix it for a long time after it had started. Washington also wrote the Atlanta Compromise of 1895.

Atlanta Compromise


The Atlanta compromise was an agreement struck in 1895 between African-American leaders and Southern white leaders. The agreement was that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic education and due process in law. This Compromise, proposed by black rights activist Booker T. Washington, showed how desperate blacks were to be allowed to exercise their rights.

Plessy v. Ferguson

May 18, 1896

This very famous supreme court case upheld the concept of "separate but equal." This case was the start to the segregation that existed in the United States into the later half of the 20th century.

Cumming v Richmond County Board of Ecudation

December 18, 1899

This case sanctioned segregation of races in American schools. The decision was overruled by Brown v. Board of Education (1954). This was one of the first steps taken in segregation.


Crop-lien System


The crop-lien system is a credit system that became widely used by farmers in the United States in the South starting in 1860. Local merchants provided food and supplies all year long on credit; when the cotton crop was harvested farmers turned it over to the merchant to pay back their loan. This was a way for farmers to get credit before the planting season by borrowing.

10% Plan

December 1863

Lincoln's plan decreed that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of the 1860 vote count from that state had taken an oath of allegiance to the U.S. and pledged to abide by emancipation. This was important because it showed that Lincoln didn't want to be harsh on the Confederate states, so that there would still be a hope of putting the U.S. back together.

Wade-Davis Bill


This bill was written by two Radical Republicans, Ben Wade and Henry Winter Davis. The bill made re-admittance to the Union for former Confederate states contingent on a majority in each Southern state to take the Ironclad oath to the effect they had never in the past supported the Confederacy. It made it passed the House and the Senate, but Lincoln pocket vetoed it. This was important because it showed that Lincoln, though a Republican, did not agree with many of the people in his same party.

Ku Klux Klan

1865 - 1870

The KKK was a group founded in 1865 by six Confederate Army veterans. The Klan targeted freed slaves and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. This group was one of the biggest organizations that used violence as their means of promoting their beliefs.


1865 - 1877

Carpetbagger was a negative term Southerners gave to Northerners who moved south during the Reconstruction era. This shows that there was still contempt between the North and South during Reconstruction.

Black Codes


The Black Codes were laws passed after the Civil War that limited the civil rights and liberties of blacks. These codes are important because it shows that though the South had lost the war and slavery was abolished, blacks were still thought of as inferior.

"Forty Acres and a Mule"


Forty acres and a mule referred to the short-lived policy, during the last stages of the American Civil War during 1865, of providing arable land to the recently freed black slaves. This was the way of integrating the former slaves into the Southern economy.


1865 - 1877

Redeemer was a term used by Southern whites to describe a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction era which followed the American Civil War. Redeemers were the conservative faction of the Democrat party who wanted to end the Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers, and scalawags.

Industry in the South


The industry in the South before the Civil War was agricultural; after the Civil War, the entire South lay in ruins. Also, the emancipation of slavery guaranteed that the South could not return to its former agricultural glory because there simply were not enough people to run that large of an industry.

Freedmen's Bureau

1865 - 1872

The Freedmen's Bureau was a U.S. federal government agency that aided newly freed slaves. The Bureau helped solve everyday problems, such as giving clothing, food, water, health care, communication with family members, and jobs. The Bureau helped to give the newly freed slaves a head start at the end of the war.

Johnson's "Restoration" Plan

May 29, 1865

Johnson's amnesty ("Restoration") plan was much harsher than Lincoln's. His plan took away all power from the former military/civil officers of the Confederacy. This plan was important because a) it gave the Radical Republicans hope that Johnson would be harsher on the Confederacy than Lincoln had, and b) it was obviously designed to take away the political power in the South from the old planter aristocracy and give it to the small farmers and artisans.

Memphis Riots of 1866

May 1, 1866 - May 3, 1866

These riots were caused by tensions during Reconstruction. Shots were fired between white policemen and black soldiers. This is important because it showed Reconstruction was still not working to bring back the North and South, and that there were still tensions between the races.

Command of the Army Act


The Command of the Army Act required Johnson to issue all military orders through the General of the Army (at that time General Ulysses S. Grant) instead of dealing directly with military governors in the South. 



Scalawags were southern whites who supported Reconstruction and the Republican Party after the Civil War. These people faced much discrimination from other Southerners.

Reconstruction Bills 1867

March 2, 1867 - March 11, 1868

These consisted of four acts to help provide a more efficient government in the South. An important part of this act split the South into 5 newly-created military districts.

Jim Crow Laws


The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted starting in 1876. These laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in the former Confederate states. This was a major step towards segregation; these laws held plenty of power, on into the 20th century.