SS8H6 The student will analyze the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Georgia. The Civil War period is probably the most written about, researched, and discussed era in America’s history. The war’s causes and outcomes still affect Americans today.
Georgia played an important role in the events that led up to the Civil War, during the war itself, and following the war during the Reconstruction period. Though Georgia was an ardent slave holding state, it was relatively slow in demanding secession. During the Compromise of 1850, the state’s most important politicians developed the Georgia Platform which accepted the compromise and remained loyal to the union. Even after Abraham Lincoln was elected, the state had a heated debate between those legislators who were for and those who were against leaving the Union. One of the most well known opponents of secession was Alexander Stephens. Interestingly, Stephens became vice-president of the Confederate States after Georgia decided to leave the union with the rest of the Deep South.
During the war, Georgia produced much of the manufactured equipment for the CSA. For a large portion of the war Georgia remained relatively untouched by US forces. However, once Grant and Sherman set their sights on the state, it suffered tremendously during Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea. After the war, Georgia’s economy was devastated and there was much suffering throughout the state.
Early during Reconstruction, the freedmen received more liberties than they could have imagined during slavery. Organizations like the Freedmen’s’ Bureau assisted former slaves with food, education, and the vote. In addition, some African Americans were elected into political office. Unfortunately, as Reconstruction continued, Southern whites began to reclaim power and took away many of the rights that the freedmen had gained. It would take almost 100 years for African Americans in Georgia, and the rest of the South, to regain the same rights.
The intent of this standard is for students to be able to explain the importance of the key issues and events that led to the Civil War. They should be able to discuss some of the important events and key battles that happened during the Civil War. Finally, students should be able to analyze the impact that Reconstruction had on Georgia and the other Southern states.
a. Explain the importance of key issues and events that led to the Civil War; include slavery, states’ rights, nullification, Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850 and the Georgia Platform, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott case, election of 1860, the debate over secession in Georgia, and the role of Alexander Stephens.
Slavery Due to the rules of the Trustees, slavery was not allowed in Georgia until the early 1750’s. Once it was legalized, slavery grew quickly due to Georgia’s agriculture based economy. However, slavery grew exponentially with the invention of the cotton gin. The South’s dependence on cotton led to a change of attitude about the evils of slavery. While many of the nation’s founding fathers disliked slavery and hoped that later generations would find a way to end it, their sons and grandson’s began to defend slavery as a necessary good and began infringing on the rights of those who spoke out against it in the South.
In turn, many in the North, led by the writings of abolitionist such as Fredrick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, began to despise slavery and call for its end. While others simply became uncomfortable with its existence in the nation’s borders and disagreed with its expansion.
The gap between the two sections widened every time the U.S. gained more territory. The South hoped for slavery to expand into the new territories while many in the North wanted it, at the very least, to be contained to where it already existed. As with the other slave states, Georgia wanted slavery to expand and was distrustful of the abolitionist movement taking place in the North.
For more information about slavery in Georgia see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Slavery in Antebellum Georgia” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1019&sug=y,
GPS Georgia Stories: “The Growth of Slavery” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/story/growth_of_slavery
States’ Rights One of the major conflicts in the history of the United States, from its creation to the present, is the issue of states’ rights. Basically, states’ rights are the amount of power a state government has in relation to the amount of power held by the federal government in making decisions. Early in the United States’ history, the Articles of Confederation gave the individual states too much power and the nation could not even tax the states for revenue (see Teacher Note H4). All of the signers of the U.S. Constitution knew that the federal government needed to have more power than it did during the Articles of Confederation to run the country effectively. However, once the Constitution was ratified, Pandora’s box was opened and there were several instances before the Civil War that the country almost broke apart due to the issue of states’ rights. While the argument for states’ rights during the Civil War was often based on a state’s right to have slavery, there were other times in the nation’s history that issues tied to states rights became major concerns. For example, during the War of 1812 there was talk in New England about secession. This was due to the fact that the New England states were losing money with their inability to trade with Britain.
Nullification Another states’ rights issue, the nullification crisis in the early 1830s, was a dispute over tariffs. The North supported high tariffs to subsidize their fledgling manufacturing industry against the cheaper products that could be sent to the United States by Great Britain. The South was opposed to this tariff because it took away profits from cotton farmers based on Great Britain’s retaliatory tariff on cotton. When the Northern states, who dominated the House of Representatives, voted to renew the tariff, South Carolina threaten to nullify the tariff and even possibly to secede. However, Andrew Jackson’s threat to attack South Carolina if they attempted to leave the union worked well enough to keep the state in the fold.
The last states’ rights issue was in Georgia. Georgia lost the Worcester v. Georgia (see Teacher Note: H5)case but refused to release the missionaries or stop pushing for Cherokee removal. This test of states’ rights proved that a state could do as it pleased if there was not a unified attempt to by the federal government or other states to stop them.
However, it should be understood that most of the issues separating the North and South were due to slavery. Even issues like the tariff and the Indian Removal indirectly concerned slavery as it was based on the major economic differences between the two sections. It sum, the issues always involved the slave based agriculture system of the South and the manufacturing based economy of the North.
Acts and Compromises The issues of slavery tied with the concept of states’ right left a huge rift on the country. Controversy after controversy widened this gap, and for almost 40 years, members of the U.S. Congress tried to close this wound with compromises and acts that amounted to band-aids. Though these acts and compromises kept the country together in the short term, as Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Over time a war between the North and South appeared to be almost inevitable.
The Missouri Compromise The first compromise was called the Missouri Compromise. This compromise was an agreement between the northern and southern states about allowing Missouri to enter the Union. The primary issue was that if Missouri was allowed in the Union there would be more slave states than free. This would have altered the balance of power in the Senate to the side of the slave states. Though there were protests by both sides concerning this compromise, Missouri was allowed to enter the Union as a slave state. In return, Maine was allowed to enter as a free state. In addition, Congress forbade slavery north of the 36˚ 30’ parallel (the southern border of Missouri). This compromise tempered the debate for almost 30 years with states being admitted into the Union in free and slave parings.
The Compromise of 1850 This pattern changed in 1850 when California, due to the Gold Rush, had a population large enough to apply for statehood. With no slave state available to balance the entry of a free one, major conflict ensued between the North and South. The South, which had a smaller population than the North, was fearful that losing the balance of power in the Senate would one day give the North the opportunity to end slavery. Talk of secession was prevalent in the South and the Civil War almost started a decade earlier. However, Senators Henry Clay and Stephen A. Douglas wrote the compromise bill that both groups grudgingly agreed to.
Though there were several provisions in the Compromise of 1850, the two most important were that California was admitted as a free state resulting in a power imbalance in both the House and Senate. In turn, Northern congressmen agreed to pass the Fugitive Slave Act,which guaranteed the return of any runaway slave to their owners if they were caught in the North. There was much protest in the North to this act but the southern leaders believed it would protect the institution of slavery.
Note: Students sometimes confuse the detail of the two compromises. One way to help students remember them is to call the compromises the “M” and the “C” compromises. In the Missouri Compromise only states that start with an “M” (Missouri and Maine) entered the Union. In the Compromise of 1850, only a state that started with a “C” (California) entered the union.
The Georgia Platform While debate over the Compromise of 1850 was raging in Congress, prominent Georgia politicians were deciding if the state should accept the terms of the Compromise. If passed, it would give the free states more representation in the U.S. Senate and end the balance of power that had been established for 30 years. Led by Alexander Stephens, Robert Toombs,and the promise of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, Georgia approved the Compromise of 1850. With Georgia leading the way, other southern states also accepted the Compromise preventing a civil war for 11 years.
For more information about the Georgia Platform see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Georgia Platform” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-798&hl=y
The Kansas-Nebraska Act Only four years after the Compromise of 1850 was passed anther conflict over slavery erupted. This conflict can be considered a precursor or a “mini” civil war and it took place in Kansas. The violence began when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise and permitted for the possibility of slavery being allowed above the 36˚ 30’ parallel. Senator Stephen Douglas believed in popular sovereignty, or the ability for the states to decide for themselves if they would be slave or free.
The territory of Kansas, which was being considered for statehood, was flooded by both pro and anti-slavery supporters who came to the state to vote for or against the institution in Kansas. Soon after their arrival, the violence between the two sides escalated. For instance, John Brown and his sons killed five proslavery farmers in retaliation for atrocities committed by proslavery forces. With all of the bloodshed, Kansas became known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
In the end, Kansas was admitted as a free state in 1861 (though its first Constitution was proslavery). The Kansas-Nebraska act greatly divided the nation and destroyed the Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850. It also allowed for the rise of the Republican Party, when the Whig party split into a northern and southern faction.
The Dred Scott Case The Dred Scott Case (1857) ended in a Supreme Court ruling that greatly favored the southern view of slavery and lead to a greater ideological divide between the North and South. Dred Scott was a slave who was taken by his master to the free states of Illinois and Wisconsin. Upon his return to Missouri, Scott sued the state based on the belief that his time in the free states made him a free man. When the case made it to the Supreme Court, the court ruled on the side of Missouri. The Court went on to declare that slaves and freed blacks were not citizens of the United States and did not have the right to sue in the first place.
The Election of 1860 The final event that led to the Civil War was the election of 1860. Due to the dramatic sectionalism that was tearing the country apart, four presidential candidates ran for office in 1860. These men were Abraham Lincoln, John Breckenridge, John Bell, and Stephen Douglas. Due to the issue of slavery, Northern and Southern Democrats split into two parties with the nominee for the North being Stephen Douglas and the nominee for the South was John Breckenridge. John Bell was the candidate for the Constitutional Union Party whose primary concern was to avoid secession. Lincoln was the nominee of the Republican party, a party that began in 1854 and whose primary goal was to prevent the expansion of slavery.
Though Lincoln’s name was not on the ballot in most southern states, he won the election of 1860 with 180 electoral votes. After the election, the southern states, believing that Lincoln’s ultimate goal was to end slavery, voted one by one to secede from the Union. Georgia, after a three day debate voted to leave the Union on January 19, 1861.
Note: Georgian John C. Fremont was the Republican’s first presidential candidate in 1854.
For more information about Georgia during the sectional crisis of the Antebellum period and information about slavery, states’ rights, nullification, Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, The Dred Scott Case and the election of 1860 see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Georgia and the Sectional Crisis” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3739&hl=y
The Debate Over Secession in Georgia In 1861, there was a spirited debate in the Georgia General Assembly about if the state should join its southern brethren in breaking away from the Union. Though there were strong supporters for both sides of the issue, Georgia eventually seceded from the Union after several other southern states. It was part of the Confederacy from 1861-1865.
During the debate there were those who did not want to leave the Union, including representatives from the northern counties, small farmers and non-slave holders, and most importantly Alexander Stephens, who gave an eloquent speech against secession. On the other side, were large farmers and slave holders, Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown, and powerful and influential men such as Robert Toombs, who had a social and economic stake in the continuation of the institution of slavery. In one of the first votes for secession the Assembly was split 166 to 130 in favor of secession. However, in the end, the General Assembly voted 208 to 89 in favor of seceding from the union.
For more information about the secession debate in Georgia see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Secession” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1085,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Georgia Secession Convention of 1861” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3250&sug=y
Alexander Stephens Alexander Stephens (1812-1873) served as Governor of Georgia, U.S. Congressman, U.S. Senator, and the Vice-President of the Confederacy. Stephens, though physically small and frail, was a major force in Georgia and U.S. politics. Born in Crawfordville, he graduated from the University of Georgia in 1832. In 1836, soon after passing the Georgia Bar, Stephens was elected to the Georgia Assembly where he served as a member of the Whig party. In 1843, Stephens was elected to the U.S. Congress. While in Congress, Stephens played a major role in assisting with the passage of the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Though an advocate for slavery, Stephens was a Unionist who resisted secession until the very end.
After the election of 1860 and the secession debate in Georgia, Stephens remained the strongest advocate for staying with the United States. However, once the General Assembly voted for secession, Stephens signed the “Ordinance of Secession” and was immediately chosen as one of Georgia’s representatives to Confederate Congress. At the congress he was elected vice president of the Confederate States of America. His election was due to his political experience and as a sign of Confederate unity based on his Unionist past. Stephens had a frustrating experience as the vice-president; though a brilliant statesman, his weak stature never allowed him any military experience. Once the CSA’s focus turned to fighting, Stephens had little to do.
After the war Stephens was jailed for five months. Upon his release, the people of Georgia elected him as their U.S. Senator. However, the Senate Republicans refused to sit the former C.S.A. vice president so soon after the war was over. Stephens spent the next few years writing. He was elected to the U.S. House again in 1877, where he served until 1882. He was elected Governor of Georgia in 1882, but died shortly after. Stephens County is named in his honor.
For more information about Alexander Stephens and his role in the Secession debate see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Alexander Stephens”
b. State the importance of key events of the Civil War; include Antietam, the Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, the Union blockade of Georgia’s coast, Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and Andersonville.
In this standard, students are required to learn about some of the national events of the Civil War before learning about the direct effect that the war had on Georgia. Two important battles that happened outside of the state are included in this standard: Antietam and Gettysburg. In addition, students are asked to analyze the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation. All of these events played an important role in the outcome of the Civil War.
The Battle of Antietam The Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862) was the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War, claiming over 23,000 American lives. After a string of Confederate victories, General Robert E. Lee wanted to bring the war to the North. Lee also hoped to bring Maryland (a slave state) into the CSA and for British and French recognition with a major victory on northern soil. However, this victory did not happen. While the North and South fought to what can be considered a “draw” with no clear winner, Lee chose to withdraw from Maryland and return to Virginia. Abraham Lincoln saw this as the victory he needed to release the Emancipation Proclamation, thus keeping the British and French, who had abolished slavery, out of the war.
Note: One of the possible reasons for the Union victory at Antietam was “Special Order: Number 191,” a CSA dispatch that contained strategic plans concerning the movements of Lee’s army. According to legend, three Union soldiers discovered a copy of this order in an envelope containing three cigars. The soldiers read the orders and sent them to their commanders where they finally reached Major General George McClellan. Discovering this order allowed the U.S. Army to find Lee in Maryland. Since the Battle of Antietam is considered by some historians as the “turning point of the war” many authors of alternative history books have used this episode as the catalyst for a “what if” scenario where the South wins the Civil War. Using the strategy of alternative or counterfactual history in the classroom allows students to think more deeply about historic events and often makes them more interested in the topic being discussed.
The Emancipation Proclamation After the Battle of Antietam Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Though often understood as the document that “freed the slaves,” the Proclamation actually said that all slaves in the rebellious states would be freed on January 1, 1863. At that point, all slaves in states that fought with the Union were not freed. Hypothetically, according to this document, if the South had surrendered before January 1, they would have been allowed to keep their slaves. However, Lincoln knew the CSA would not give up, and this document would end slavery once the war was over. It would also be the moral issue that kept other European powers out of the conflict.
For more information about the Emancipation Proclamation see:
The Battle of Gettysburg The battle that many historians believe was the true “turning point” of the Civil War was the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle was fought near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from July 1-3, 1863. Over 50,000 soldiers were killed on that day. Similarly to the Battle of Antietam, the South had won a series of victories and Lee wanted to again bring the war to the North. This time Lee hoped that a victorious campaign in the North would cause the North to give up and realize that they could not keep the South in the Union. During the battle Lee’s outnumbered army failed to gain the high ground and the advantage. After three days of heavy losses, the Southern army retreated back to Virginia. Due to the loss of a large portion of Lee’s men, the South never invaded the North again. Combined with U.S. victories in the Western theater that were occurring at the same time, the South was demoralized. After this battle the North began to put constant pressure on the South and was eventually able to invade and capture the rebellious states.
Note: After the battle, President Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches: The Gettysburg Address. This short, 10 sentence speech offered a rationale for the war and a purpose for why so many men fought and died. This speech is considered one of the most important speeches in American history.
For more information about the Battle of Gettysburg see:
The Gettysburg Foundation: “Gettysburg”
For more information about the Gettysburg Address see:
The Battle of Chickamauga For the first three years of the Civil War Georgia was virtually left untouched. There were a few skirmishes, though the Battle of Fort Pulaski in 1862 led to the North’s control of the Georgia coast and expansion of the Union Blockade of Southern ports. However, the major impact of war arrived on Georgia’s doorstep in 1863, during the Battle of Chickamauga. The town of Chickamauga is located in Walker County just 10 miles south of the Tennessee/Georgia line. The battle lasted three days from September 18-20 and was the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War with over 34,000 casualties. The battle was the largest ever fought in the state of Georgia.
The Generals that led this battle were William S. Rosecrans of the U.S. and Braxton Bragg of the CSA. This battle was part of a larger Northern objective to capture the city of Chattanooga, itself an important rail center, and to use its capture as a stepping stone to capture a more important rail road hub: Atlanta. While Rosecrans captured Chattanooga earlier that September, he wanted to circle around Bragg’s army and cut the Southern supply lines in Western Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.
However, the CSA discovered Rosecrans army in the area and attacked. This battle is significant for two reasons. First it was the largest Union defeat in the Western theater of the Civil War. Second, due to the South’s victory, General Bragg focused on recapturing Chattanooga. The attack on Chattanooga was a southern defeat that brought General Ulysses S. Grant more attention and led to his promotion to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army. Once Chattanooga was defended and securely in Union hands, it was used as a launching point for Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign. Note: In many historical accounts of the battle it is often said that the name “Chickamauga” is a Cherokee word meaning “river of death.” Students tend to find this factoid interesting and useful in remembering the battle. However, many historians are critical of this story and claim that this may not be the case. In fact, one historian has argued that the name has lost all meaning in Cherokee, while another has argued that “Chickamauga” may mean “stagnant water” in Cherokee or even “good country” in Chickasaw.
For more information about the Battle of Chickamauga see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Battle of Chickamauga ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-642&hl=y
For more information about the Civil War in Georgia see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Civil War in Georgia: Overview ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3709&hl=y,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Ten Major Civil War Sites in Georgia ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Destination.jsp?id=p-59&hl=y
The Union Blockade of Georgia’s Coast One of the United States’ most important strategies during the Civil War is often called the Union Blockade. Basically, the North’s objective was to use its superior navy to prevent the South from shipping its cotton to England and France in return for weapons and other supplies. The mastermind behind this strategy was General Winfield Scott and was often called the “Anaconda Plan” due to its intention of “squeezing” the CSA to death, though the press dubbed it the “Anaconda Plan” as a critique. Despite the initial criticism, this strategy proved to be a major factor in the US victory.
Note: Use the primary source “Scott’s Great Snake,” as a visual to describe the Union blockade. See if students can identify that of all the Southern states, Georgia is the only one shown with a factory. This image can be found on the Library of Congress’ website “History of Mapping the Civil War” http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/civil_war_maps/cwmcm.html
At first, the Union blockade was not successful and almost 9 out of 10 “blockade runners,” private citizens who took the risk of evading the Union blockade for the chance at huge profits, were able to make it to Europe and back. However, things changed dramatically in Georgia when the North destroyed the brick Fort Pulaski with rifled cannon. Once this fort was obliterated the North was able to effectively “bottle up” the important port of Savannah. Though Georgians continued to attempt to sneak past the Union blockade, and build several gun boats, including three “ironclads,” Georgia was unable to deal with the power of the Union navy.
Note: The US also made several attacks on Georgia, including occupying St. Simons Island and attacking the port town of Darien. Savannah was finally captured by General William T. Sherman, in 1864, with assistance from the U.S. Navy which was operating in the port.
For more information about the Union blockade of Georgia’s coast see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Union Blockade and Costal Occupation in the Civil War ”
GPS Georgia Stories: “The Economics of War” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/economics_of_war
William T. Sherman To many Georgians, General William T. Sherman’s actions during the Civil War makes him the most hated figure in the state’s history. However, as time has gone by, many historians are reexamining Sherman’s military campaigns and are developing varying view points about the purposes and rationales behind his treatment of the South. No matter if Sherman was a truly a tyrant who reveled in his “mistreatment” of Georgia, or simply a military commander doing his job to swiftly end the war, Sherman’s military campaigns through Georgia left an enormous impact on the history of the state.
Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign Though often called “Sherman’s March through Georgia” or simply “Sherman’s March,” Sherman actually led two separate military campaigns in the state. The first was called the Atlanta Campaign. Beginning in the spring of 1864, Sherman set out to capture Atlanta. Due to Atlanta’s role as the major railroad hub of the South, along with its industrial capabilities, the capture of the city would bring a mortal blow to the Confederacy. The campaign took almost 4 ½ months and several major engagements took place between the two armies including the Battles of Dalton, Resaca, and Kennesaw Mountain.
The southern army was led by General Joseph Johnston who believed that with his army being out numbered almost 2 to 1, he should use defensive tactics to slow down Sherman’s campaign. He primarily hoped to have his army dig in to defensive positions and lure Sherman into costly head on attacks. However, with the exception of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where the North lost over 2000 men, Sherman chose to simply go around (“out-flank”) the CSA’s positions and continue to move toward Atlanta forcing the CSA to withdraw from their defensive strongholds.
As Sherman pushed his army closer and closer to the city, CSA President, Jefferson Davis, removed Johnston from command and replaced him with John B. Hood, a general that would attack Sherman’s larger army head-on to protect the city. Though Hood did as ordered, his attacks were unsuccessful and did not deter Sherman and his movements toward the city. It should be pointed out that there was not one major battle to take Atlanta but rather several small battles that eventually allowed Sherman the opportunity to move close enough to the city to bombard it with cannon fire. These battles include the Battle of Peachtree Creek (July 20, 1864), the Battle of Atlanta (July 22, 1864), and The Battle of Ezra Church (July 24, 1864).
On September 2, 1864, General Hood was forced to withdraw from Atlanta leaving the city open for Union occupation. Sherman held the city for more than two months planning for what was to be called The March to the Sea. On Nov 15, 1864, Sherman’s army left Atlanta. Whether or not he was solely to blame for the fire that spread through the city as he was withdrawing, or if some of the fires were started by Confederate soldiers or civilians, is a topic that has been debated from almost as soon as it happened. Regardless, as Sherman started his new campaign, the city of Atlanta was left smoldering and in ruins.
Note: The capture of Atlanta in September of 1864 was critical not only due to Atlanta’s industrial role for the South, but also because it gave the war weary North a victory to celebrate and the will power to continue fighting. With Sherman’s victory, Lincoln was assured a triumph in the 1864 presidential election.
For more information about Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Atlanta Campaign ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2713,
GPS Georgia Stories: “The Railroads and the New Georgia” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/railroads_and_the_new_georgia,
GPS Georgia Stories: “The Battle of Jonesboro” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/battle_of_jonesboro
Sherman’s March to the Sea After leaving the city of Atlanta utterly destroyed, Sherman set his sights on the rest of Georgia. Hoping to end the war as quickly as possible, while punishing the South for starting the war, Sherman began his infamous March to the Sea. The march began on November 15, 1864, and ended on December 21, 1864, with Sherman’s capture of Savannah. Due to the losses the CSA sustained during the battles of the Atlanta campaign, and Hood’s attempt to lure Sherman out of Georgia by marching toward Tennessee, Union troops had an unobstructed path to the Atlantic Ocean.
During the march, Sherman’s army created a path of destruction that was 300 miles long and 60 miles wide. Though it is disputed about how Union soldiers were ordered to behave during the march, many lived off civilian food supplies and took anything of value. Sherman burned buildings and factories, and in some cases destroyed towns. The city of Griswoldville, which produced a replica of the Colt Navy Revolver, serves as one such example. In the end, Savannah, not wanting to receive the same bombardment that happened to Atlanta, surrendered to Sherman without a fight on December 22, 1864. Sherman wrote to Abraham Lincoln that Savannah was his Christmas present.
Note: There were only two battles during Sherman’s March to the Sea and the battle of Griswoldville was the most tragic. Sherman’s battle-hardened army was attacked by a force of Georgia militia made up of men too old and boys too young to fight in the regular army. In this battle over 650 of the Georgians were killed in comparison to 62 Union soldiers. This battle is vividly reenacted in the Georgia Stories video listed below.
For more information about Sherman’s March to the Sea see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Sherman’s March to the Sea ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-641&hl=y,
GPS Georgia Stories: “The March to the Sea” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/march_to_the_sea
Andersonville Andersonville Prison is the most notorious prisoner of war camp from the Civil War era. Located in Macon County, the prison’s official name was “Fort Sumter” but became known as Andersonville after a nearby railroad station. Built to hold only 10,000 Union prisoners of war in 1864, the camp’s population tripled to over 30,000 at the peak of its occupancy.
Once the prison began to reach its occupancy limits the main water source, a small creek that followed through the camp, began to back up with human waste and other sewage. Once this occurred, disease started running rampant throughout the prison. In addition, due to the success of the Union blockade, the south was running low on food and other supplies for the prisoners. Finally, the Union prisoners themselves began to turn on each other and a group of soldiers know as “the raiders” terrorized the fellow prisoners by robbing and beating them. Six of these raiders were later hanged for their crimes. With these horrible conditions more men died (over 13,000) at Andersonville than any other Civil War prison. Due to the awful conditions, Captain Henry Wirz, the commander of the camp, was executed by the North for war crimes. He was the only CSA official to meet this fate.
Note: While some support Wirz’s execution due to the harsh treatment of the Andersonville prisoners and the high death rate, others believed that Wirz did what he could to run the prison with the South’s lack of resources and the decision by his superiors to continue sending prisoners to the already overcrowded camp. The Wirz trial offers teachers a great opportunity to use discussion and debate in the classroom. For example, one strategy that could be use for discussing Wriz’s guilt or innocence is to use a “line of contention.”
For more information about Andersonville see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Andersonville Prison ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-789&hl=y,
The Library of Congress: “Trial of Henry Wirz” http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/Wirz_trial.html
Additionally, the Georgia Council on Economic Education has created two economic lesson plans for this time period titled “‘The War will be Over in a Few Days:’ The Impact of the Distribution of Resources on the Outcome of the Civil War” and “‘I Intend to Make Georgia Howl:’ The Economic Impact of Sherman’s March to the Sea.” To receive these lessons, along with 15 others, 8th grade teachers can attend the Georgia Council's Georgia Economic History workshop. See http://www.gcee.org/workshops/about_the_workshops.asp for more details.
c. Analyze the impact of Reconstruction on Georgia and other southern states, emphasizing Freedmen’s Bureau; sharecropping and tenant farming; Reconstruction plans; 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution; Henry McNeal Turner and black legislators; and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Impact of Reconstruction on Georgia Reconstruction in Georgia was a time of major change in the state following the devastation of the Civil War. Though this era lasted for a relatively short period of time (1865-1872), its impact on the state is still evident today. After the Civil War, much of Georgia was decimated after Sherman’s March and four years of fighting. Over 40,000 Georgians had been killed or wounded and many had lost their land entirely. Due to the damage inflicted the United States attempted to reconstruct the South and used three different plans to do so.
For a while, both African-Americans and Republicans gained power in the state. African-Americans were freed from slavery and briefly gained more freedoms and educational opportunities due to organizations like the Freedmen’s Bureau, though they faced new challenges in both the cities and rural areas. However, soon after Reconstruction ended, southern Democrats regained political authority and white supremacy and Jim Crow laws became the law of the land for over 90 years.
Reconstruction Plans/ 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments There were three Reconstruction plans enacted from 1865-1871. The first phase was called Presidential Reconstruction (1865-1866). During this plan, President Johnson, a native of Tennessee who stayed loyal to the Union, was extremely lenient with the southern states. His plan, based on that of Abraham Lincoln who had been assassinated in April of 1865, allowed the South readmission in into the Union if 10% of the population swore an oath of allegiance to the United States. They also were required to ratify the 13th amendment, which officially ended slavery in the United States.
Georgia, taking advantage of this moderate policy, held a constitutional convention in 1866. In the new constitution they repealed the Ordnance of Session and passed the 13th amendment. However, the Constitution was very similar to the one that of the Secessionist Constitution of 1861, including and amendment banning interracial marriage. Nonetheless, due to the passage of the 13th amendment, Georgia was readmitted into the Union in December of 1865. This proved to be temporary.
Trouble began brewing again between the southern states and the Republican controlled Congress when several former confederate leaders were elected back into the fold. In Georgia, former CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens, and CSA Senator, Hershel Johnson, were elected as the state’s two senators. The northern Senators, especially those called “Radical Republicans,” who favored harsher punishments for the South, were aghast at having these high ranking CSA officials in Congress and refused to seat them. Additionally, there began to be calls against President Johnson for abuse of power and proceeding for his impeachment started to take place.
Finally, the Radical Republicans were appalled at the South’s treatment of the freedmen under laws that were called Black Codes. Under these laws, blacks were not allow to vote, testify against whites in court, and could not serve as jurors. With the South’s treatment of blacks, the Congress introduced the 14th amendment which made African-Americans citizens of the United States and required that they were given the same rights as all U.S. citizens.
The next plan was called Congressional Reconstruction (1866-1867). Georgia, along with the other southern states, refused to ratify the 14th amendment. With this action, Georgia and the rest of the South was placed under the authority of Congress. As a result, southern states were required to pass this amendment in order to be readmitted into the Union. With the South continuing to refuse to pass this amendment, along with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867. This act lumped the South into five military districts with Georgia, Alabama, and Florida making up the third district.
Under Military Reconstruction General John Pope served as the third district’s 1st military governor. During this period, Georgia held another constitutional convention, this time in Atlanta. Atlanta was chosen because it was more accepting of the state’s Republican delegates along with the 37 African American delegates that had been elected to serve in the convention. During this convention, Georgia created a new constitution that included a provision for black voting, public schools, and moving the capital to Atlanta.
After this convention, Republican Rufus Bullock was elected Governor and the Republican controlled General Assembly began its session. However, the military continued to be a presence in the state due to the continued actions of the KKK and Georgia’s refusal to pass the 15th amendment which gave African-American men the right to vote. Georgia was finally readmitted into the Union in 1870 when reinstated Republican and black legislators voted for the passage of the 15th amendment. However, by 1872 southern Democrats called the “redeemers” were voted back into office and took control of the Governorship and General Assembly.
For more information and an overview about the impact of the impact of Reconstruction on Georgia, Reconstruction plans, and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Reconstruction in Georgia ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2533&hl=y,
GPS Georgia Stories: “The Saga of Reconstruction” http://www.gpb.org/georgiastories/stories/saga_of_reconstruction,
The Library of Congress: “13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution”
The Freedmen’s Bureau The Freedmen’s Bureau, officially titled “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands,” was created to help African-Americans adjust to their newly gained freedom. This program also supported poor whites in the South. The program provided food to whites and blacks who were affected by the war, helped build freedmen’s schools and hospitals, and supervised labor contracts, and other legal disputes. Overall, the Freedmen’s Bureau was moderately successful. During its early years the organization fed, clothed, and offered shelter to those most harshly affected by the war. There were also successes in its education programs. The Freemen’s bureau created the first public school program for either blacks or whites in the state and set the stage for Georgia’s modern public school system. In addition, some of the schools created by the Freemen’s Bureau continue to this day throughout the South, including two of Atlanta’s historical black colleges: Clarke Atlanta University and Morehouse College.
Note: The common view concerning the Freedmen’s schools were that they were almost completely created by northerners and staffed primarily by white, northern women. However, Dr. Ronald E. Butchart, from the University of Georgia, has discovered that almost 1/5 of the teachers in the Freedmen’s schools were native Georgian’s of both races.
For more information about the impact of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Georgia see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Freedmen’s Bureau ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3257,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Freedmen’s Education during Reconstruction ” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-634
Sharecropping and Tenant Farming After the Civil War, people in the former confederate states suffered a serious shortage of hard currency. Due to the printing of what would become worthless Confederate money, many of the major land owners were unable to pay their labor forces, while the members of the labor force were unable to find work that paid them wages. In theory, the labor institutions of sharecropping and tenant farming should have been mutually beneficial to both sides where “cash poor” land owners provided land and other resources to the laborer in return for the laborers’ work on the farm. However, landowners soon found ways to keep their employees indebted to them in hopes of preventing them(both poor Blacks and Whites) from gaining the ability to purchase their own land. This also stifled their ability to take leadership roles in the cultural, economic, and political arenas of the South.
There were many similarities between a sharecropper and tenant farmer. Both usually consisted of poor and illiterate blacks and whites. Both agreed to exchange their labor and a portion of their crops to a land owner in return for land to work. Finally, both groups had to buy certain necessities from the landowner’s store which caused many to find themselves deeply indebted to the landowner and decreased their chances of getting out of the system. However, the major difference between the two groups was that tenant farmers usually owned their own tools, animals, and other equipment, while the sharecropper brought nothing but their labor into the agreement.
Sharecropping and tenant farming were entrenched in Georgia’s agricultural system until the mid-twentieth century. The system began to erode for many reasons including the Great Migration of African-Americans, along with rural whites to the North and cities in the South during and after World War I, the devastation of the boll weevil in the 1910s and 1920s, and the technological advances in farming during the time period. Though this system has almost completely vanished in the state, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, there were still 2,607 Georgians who were classified as tenant farmers in 1997.
For more information about sharecropping and tenant farming see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Sharecropping” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3590&hl=y,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Poor Whites” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-2718&hl=y,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Antebellum Tenancy”
Henry McNeal Turner and Black Legislators For a brief period during Reconstruction, African American freedmen were given more political rights than they had ever had and would not have again for 100 years. Primarily, the freedmen were given the right to vote. With this freedom, 32 black legislators were elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1867. The most prominent of these legislators was Henry McNeal Turner. Henry McNeal Turner (1834-1915) was born in 1834 in South Carolina. His family had been free for at least two generations. At the age of 15 he went to work for a law firm in South Carolina where his employers provided him with an education due to his intelligence. In 1853, he received his preaching license and traveled throughout the South, including Georgia where he preached and held revivals. In 1858, fearing the possibility of being enslaved, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
During the Civil War, Turner organized a unit of African-American troops and served as the chaplain of the regiment. After the war, Turner traveled throughout the state of Georgia, converting former slaves to the AME Church. In 1867, Turner helped organize the Republican Party in the state and was elected both to the Constitutional Convention of 1867 and the Georgia House of Representatives.
Turner’s life was not without controversy and disappointment. He received threats from the KKK and was expelled from his seat in 1868. In 1869, he was framed for unethical practices while serving as the postmaster of Macon. He was able to retain his senate seat with the help of Congress in 1870, but soon lost it in a fraudulent election a few months later. After being forced from the General Assembly, Turner became a bishop of the AME church, established his own newspaper and was a proponent of African-American migration to Africa, though this movement proved to be unsuccessful.
Similarly to Turner, the other black legislators suffered hardships during their time in office. They were constantly harassed, and many were expelled by both the Democrats and Republicans of the General Assembly in 1868. Several were threaten by the KKK and over one quarter of the black legislators were killed, beaten, or jailed during their term. By 1906, the last black legislator was elected before African-Americans were legally disenfranchised in 1908. It was not until 1962, with the election of Leroy Johnson, that African-Americans held seats in the Georgia General Assembly again.
Note: One of the most important contributions of the black legislators of the Reconstruction period was their support of public education. Due to their efforts the 1868 Constitution called for free general public education in the State of Georgia (though it did not begin until 1872).
For more information about Henry McNeal Turner and black legislators see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Henry McNeal Turner” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-632,
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Black Legislators during Reconstruction” http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-635,
The Ku Klux Klan The 1st Ku Klux Klan (KKK) began in 1867 in Tennessee and was a loosely governed organization consisting mostly of Confederate veterans. This group began as a social club for former confederate soldiers; however, they became progressively more political and violent. Soon after their creation they began to use terroristic actions to intimidate freed blacks and white Republicans (derogatorily called Carpetbaggers for those whites who moved from the North, and Scalawags, their white allies from the South) from voting and running for office during the Reconstruction period. This group also used tactics of intimidation, physical violence, and murder against black organizations such as the Freedmen schools and churches in hopes of establishing social control over African Americans and their white allies.
The KKK was successful in their political goals as Democrats (many who were members of the organization such as John B. Gordon) gained control of Georgia politics in 1871. It was over 100 years before Republicans gained a foothold in the state again. Socially, the KKK often used severe acts of violence against the freedmen. In some cases blacks rebuilt burned schools and churches, and sometimes even fought back when attacked. Nonetheless, the KKK was a major force in the state during the Reconstruction Period and the white supremacy and racial segregation they championed became the norm in Georgia, and the rest of the South, for several decades.
The first KKK disbanded sometime around 1871, when Democrats regained political control of the state and Congress passed the Force Act of 1870 and Civil Rights Act of 1871 (also called the Ku Klux Klan Act). These acts authorized federal authority to fight and arrest members of the Klan. The Klan resurfaced in its second incarnation in 1915.
For more information about the KKK in Georgia during Reconstruction see:
The New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Ku Klux Klan in the Reconstruction Era”
What was Abraham Lincoln's official stand on slavery during the presidential campaign of 1860?
A. The African slave trade should be ended immediately.
B. Slavery should not be allowed to spread into new territories.*
C. A constitutional convention should be held to resolve the issue.
D. All slaves within the United States should be freed within ten years.
Sample Question for H6b
Why was Georgia often referred to as the "heart of the Confederacy" during the Civil War?
A. Georgia was the site of most of the military victories.
B. Georgia's soldiers fought harder than those from other Confederate states.
C. Robert E. Lee once referred to Georgia by that term and the name remained.
D. Georgia had the best railroads and more industry than other Confederate states.*
c. Analyze the impact of Reconstruction on Georgia and other southern states, emphasizing Freedmen’s Bureau; sharecropping and tenant farming; Reconstruction plans; 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the constitution; Henry McNeal Turner and black legislators; and the Ku Klux Klan.
If you were a member of Congress how would you have treated the South after the Civil War?
In one paragraph outline your plan. In a second paragraph compare your plan to one of the three Reconstruction plans that were actually used. In a third paragraph justify why you think your plan is better than either Presidential, Congressional, or Military Reconstruction.
Sample Question for H6c
Which organization did the federal government create in 1865 to supervise the transition of slaves to freedom?
A. Howard University
B. Freedmen's Bureau*
C. American Civil Liberties Union
D. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People