As Lee moved into Maryland, he met McClellan's forces again at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. McClellan managed to halt Lee's forces after his forces discovered Lee's battle plans. Although not a victory, the Union stopped the Confederate march northward.
Antietam provided Lincoln with the military backing to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 23, 1862. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued a final proclamation. Lincoln now made the Civil War a war to end slavery because he declared that "the rebels could not experiment for 10 years trying to destroy the government and if they fail still come back into the Union unhurt."
The Confiscation Act of 1862 punished "traitors" by declaring their slaves property of war who shall be free.
A Proclamation without Emancipation
The Emancipation Proclamation called for the freeing of all slaves, although it did not actually free them. Lincoln did not even enforce the freeing of slaves in the Border States for fear that they, too, would secede. The proclamation fundamentally changed the nature of the war because it effectively removed any chance of a negotiated settlement between the North and the South.
The Emancipation Proclamation caused an outcry to rise from the South who said that Lincoln was trying to stir up slave rebellion.
The North now had a much stronger moral cause. It had to preserve the Union and free the slaves.
Blacks Battle Bondage
After the Emancipation Proclamation and as manpower ran low, blacks were allowed to enlist in the Union army. Towards the end of the war, the Confederacy allowed blacks to enlist, but by then it was too late.
Lee's Last Lunge at Gettysburg
After Antietam, Lincoln replaced McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General A. E. Burnside. But due to Burnside's massive defeat at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13, 1862, he was replaced by Hooker. During the battle at Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 2-4, 1863, Hooker was badly beaten, but not before Jackson was mortally wounded. Hooker was replaced by General George G. Meade.
As Lee moved his Confederate force to the north again (this time to Pennsylvania), he was met by Meade's force at Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863. The failure of General George Pickett's charge enabled the Union to win the battle. President Jefferson Davis was planning to deliver negotiators to the Washington D.C. with the Confederate victory at Gettysburg. Since the Union won the battle instead, Lincoln did not allow the negotiators to come.
The War in the West
Ulysses S. Grant became a colonel in the Union volunteer army. His first victory was when he captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in February 1862. He then moved to capture the junction of the main Confederate north-south and east-west railroads in the Mississippi Valley at Corinth. His plan was foiled when he was defeated by a Confederate force at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862.
General Grant was given command of the Union forces attacking Vicksburg. The city fell and surrendered on July 4, 1863.
Due to back-to-back Union military victories at the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Vicksburg, all Confederate hopes for foreign help were lost.
Sherman Scorches Georgia
General Grant won the battle at Chattanooga, and the state of Tennessee was cleared of Confederates. Grant was made general in chief due to this win.
The invasion of Georgia was left up to General William Tecumseh Sherman. He captured Atlanta in September of 1864 and burned it in November. He destroyed rail lines and burned buildings. He continued on through Georgia, with the main purposes of destroying supplies destined for the Confederate army and to weaken the morale of the men at the front by waging war on their homes. Sherman captured Savannah on December 22, 1864. He moved up through South Carolina, capturing and burning Columbia on February 17, 1865.
The Politics of War
Critics in President Lincoln's own party were led by secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Chase.
The Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, formed in late 1861, was dominated by radical Republicans who resented the expansion of presidential power in wartime and who pressed Lincoln on emancipation.
After Stephen A. Douglas, the leader of the Democratic Party in the North, died, the party split between those who supported Lincoln (War Democrats) and those who didn't (Peace Democrats).
Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham was a prominent member in a group called the Copperheads, which were radical Peace Democrats. Vallandigham was banished from the North to the South by Lincoln but he later returned after the war had ended.
The Election of 1864
Fearing defeat, the Republicans joined with the War Democrats to form the Union Party in the election of 1864. Lincoln's running-mate was Andrew Johnson, a local War Democrat.
The Democrats, including the Copperheads, nominated General McClellan was their presidential candidate.
The Northern Democrats lost the election of 1864. This was one of the most crushing losses suffered by the South. The removal of Lincoln was the last hope for a Confederate victory.
Grant Outlasts Lee
President Lincoln chose General Grant to lead the assault on the Confederate capital of Richmond. Grant had 100,000 men and engaged Lee in a series of battles in the Wilderness of Virginia (Wilderness Campaign).
On June 3, 1864, Grant ordered the frontal assault on Cold Harbor. Thousands of Union soldiers were killed within a matter of minutes, but Grant's strategy of losing two men and killing one Confederate worked. He captured Richmond and cornered Lee. On April 9, 1865, Lee was forced to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia (a significant portion of the Confederate army) at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.
The Martyrdom of Lincoln
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot and killed at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Andrew Johnson took over as President.
The Aftermath of the Nightmare
The Civil War claimed over 600,000 lives and cost over $15 billion.
The Ordeal of Reconstruction
The Problems of Peace
All rebel (Confederate) leaders were pardoned by President Johnson in 1868.
Freedmen Define Freedom
Emancipation took effect unevenly in different parts of the conquered Confederacy. Some slaves resisted the liberating Union armies due to their loyalty to their masters.
The church became the focus of black community life in the years following emancipation. Blacks formed their own churches pastured by their own ministers. Education also arose for the blacks due to the emancipation proclamation. Blacks now had the opportunity to learn to read and write.
The Freedmen's Bureau
Because many freedmen (those who were freed from slavery) were unskilled, unlettered, without property or money, and with little knowledge of how to survive as free people, Congress created the Freedmen's Bureau on March 3, 1865. It was intended to provide clothing, medical care, food, and education to both freedmen and white refugees. Union general Oliver O. Howard led the bureau. The bureau's greatest success was teaching blacks to read. Because it was despised by the President and by Southerners, the Freedmen's Bureau expired in 1872.
Johnson: The Tailor President
Andrew Johnson was elected to Congress and refused to secede with his own state of Tennessee.
Johnson was made Vice Democrat to Lincoln's Union Party in 1864 in order to gain support from the War Democrats and other pro-Southern elements. Johnson was a strong supporter of state's rights and of the Constitution. He was a Southerner who did not understand the North and a Democrat who had not been accepted by the Republicans.
In 1863, Lincoln stated his "10 percent" Reconstruction plan which stated that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of its voters in the presidential election of 1860 had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States and pledged to abide by emancipation. Then a formal state government would be constructed within the state, and the state would be re-admitted into the Union.
Due to Republican fears over the restoration of planter aristocracy and the possible re-enslavement of blacks, Congress passed the Wade-Davis Bill in 1864. It required that 50% of a state's voters take the oath of allegiance and it demanded stronger safeguards for emancipation. President Lincoln refused to sign the bill.
The disagreement between the President and Congress revealed differences in Republicans and two factions arose: a majority that agreed with Lincoln and believed that the seceded states should be restored to the Union as quickly as possible, and a radical minority that felt the South should suffer greatly before its re-admittance - this minority wanted the South's social structure to be uprooted, the planters to be punished, and the newly-emancipated blacks protected by federal power.
President Johnson issued his own Reconstruction plan on May 29, 1865. It called for special state conventions which were required to: repeal the decrees of secession, repudiate all Confederate debts, and ratify the slave-freeing 13th Amendment.
The Baleful Black Codes
The Black Codes was a series of laws designed to regulate the affairs of the emancipated slaves. Mississippi passed the first such law in November 1865.
The Black Codes aimed to ensure a stable and subservient labor force.
Blacks were forced to continue to work the plantations after their emancipation due to the system of "sharecropping." Plantation owners would rent out pieces of their land to blacks and make the cost of rent higher than the return the land produced. The renters of the land were bound by contract to continue to work the land until debts were repaid to the plantation owner. Unable to repay the debts, blacks began to "jump" their contracts.
The codes imposed harsh penalties on blacks who "jumped" their labor contracts, some of which usually forced the blacks to work for the same employer for one year. The codes also sought to restore the pre-emancipation system of race relations. The codes forbade a black to serve on a jury or to vote. The Black Codes mocked the idea of freedom and imposed terrible hardships on the blacks who were struggling against mistreatment and poverty to make their way as free people.
The Republicans were strongly opposed to the Black Codes.
In December 1865, Southern states represented themselves in Congress with former Confederate generals and colonels. This infuriated the Republicans who were apprehensive about embracing their Confederate enemies in Congress.
The Republicans had enjoyed their supreme rule in Congress during the time of the Civil War, but now there would be an opposing party. This time, the South would have much more control in Congress due to the fact that slaves were now counted as a whole person, not just 3/5; giving the South a larger population. Republicans feared that the South would take control of Congress.
On December 4, 1865, Republicans shut the door in the face of the newly-elected Southern delegates.
President Johnson announced on December 6, 1865 that the Southern states had met his conditions and that the Union was now restored - this statement angered the Republicans.
Johnson Clashes with Congress
The clash between President Johnson and Congress erupted in February 1866 when the president vetoed a bill extending the life of the controversial Freedmen's Bureau (later re-passed). Congress (controlled by the Republicans) passed the Civil Rights Bill in March 1866, which gave blacks the privilege of American citizenship and struck at the Black Codes.
Fearing that the Southerners might someday repeal the hated Civil Rights Law, Congress passed the 14th Amendment in 1866. The amendment: 1- gave civil rights, including citizenship, to the freedmen; 2- reduced proportionately the representation of a state in Congress and in the Electoral College if it denied blacks on the ballot; 3- disqualified from federal and state offices former Confederates who, as federal officeholders, had once sworn to support the Constitution of the United States; and 4- guaranteed the federal debt, while the Union assumed all Confederate debts.
Congress began to develop into the dominant role in controlling the government.
All Republicans agreed that no state should be welcomed back into the Union without ratifying the 14th Amendment.
Swinging 'Round the Circle with Johnson
As President Johnson went on a tour of giving speeches denouncing the radical Republicans in Congress, his reputation dropped.
Over 2/3 of the ballots cast in the congressional elections of 1866 had gone to the Republicans.
Republicans Principles and Programs
Charles Sumner led the Republican radicals in the Senate for black freedom and racial equality. Thaddeus Stevens led the radicals in the House of Representatives.
The moderate Republicans, the majority in Congress, preferred policies that restrained the states from cutting citizens' rights, rather than policies that directly involved the federal government in individual lives.
Reconstruction by the Sword
On March 2, 1867, Congress passed the Reconstruction Act. It divided the South into 5 military districts, each commanded by a union general and policed by Union soldiers. It also required that states wishing to be re-admitted into the Union had to ratify the 14th Amendment, and that states' constitutions had to allow former adult male slaves to vote. The moderate Republican goal was to create voters in Southern states that would vote those states back into the Union and thus free the federal government from direct responsibility for the protection of black rights.
The 15th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1869. It granted black men the right to vote.
Military Reconstruction of the South took control of certain functions of the president, who was commander in chief, and set up a martial regime.
In 1877, the last federal arms were removed from Southern politics and the Democratic South was made.
No Women Voters
Feminists were angered that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments gave rights to black males, but not to women.
The Realities of Radical Reconstruction in the South
After gaining the right to vote from the 15th Amendment, blacks began to organize politically. They were strong participators in the Union League, originally a pro-Union organization. Freedmen turned the Union League into a network of political clubs that educated members and campaigned for Republican candidates. The League also took up building black churches and schools, representing black grievances before local employers and government, and recruiting militias to protect black communities from white retaliation.
From 1868-1876, blacks began to hold major offices in government (senator, congressmen).
"Scalawags" were Southerners who were accused of plundering the treasuries of the Southern states through their political influence in the radical governments.
"Carpetbaggers" were sleazy Northerners who had come to the South to seek power and profit.
The Ku Klux Klan
The "Invisible Empire of the South", otherwise known as the Ku Klux Klan, was founded in Tennessee in 1866. It was formed by disgruntled white Southerners who were angered by the success of black legislators. The group worked through intimidation.
Congress passed the Force Acts of 1870 and 1871 in response to the murders the Klan had committed. They enabled Federal troops to stop the atrocities of the Ku Klux Klan. The Acts came too late, though, after the intimidation of the Klan had already been accomplished.
Johnson Walk the Impeachment Plank
Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. It required the president to secure the consent of the Senate before he could remove his cabinet members once they had been approved by the Senate. Its purpose was to keep the secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, in the president's cabinet. When Johnson dismissed Stanton in 1868, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Johnson for "high crimes and misdemeanors."
A Not-Guilty Verdict for Johnson
The House of Representatives prosecuted the president, while the Senate served as the court to try Johnson on the impeachment charges.
President Johnson argued that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional and that he had fired Stanton in order to bring a case before the Supreme Court so the Court could rule on the Act's constitutionality.
On May 16, 1868, the Senate voted the president "not guilty" by a margin of one vote. The radical Republicans failed to gain the necessary 2/3 majority vote in the Senate to remove the president.
Fears of creating a poor precedent and opposition to abusing the checks and balances system caused Senators to vote "not guilty." These Senators also considered his presidential replacement, Ben Wade. Wade was disliked by many for his economic policies.
The Purchase of Alaska
In 1867, Secretary of State William Seward signed a treaty with Russia that gave Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million.
Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. because it felt that it was over-expanded in North America. Russia also wanted to strengthen the United States as a barrier against its enemy, Britain.
Although the American people were concentrated on Reconstruction and anti-expansion, they supported the purchase of Alaska because they did not want to offend the Russians, who had helped them during the Civil War.
The Heritage of Reconstruction
Many white Southerners felt that Reconstruction was more of a painful process that the war itself.
The Republican Party wanted to protect the freed slaves and to promote the fortunes of the Republican Party. In doing this, though, it extinguished itself in the South for nearly 100 years.
Despite good intentions by the Republicans, the Old South was in many ways more resurrected than reconstructed.
Thaddeus Stevens had a radical program of drastic economic reforms and heftier protection of political rights. This program was never enacted.
Political Paralysis in the Gilded Age
The "Bloody Shirt" Elects Grant
The Republicans nominated General Grant for the presidency in 1868. The Republican Party supported the continuation of the Reconstruction of the South, while Grant stood on the platform of "just having peace."
The Democrats nominated Horatio Seymour.
Grant won the election of 1868.
The Era of Good Stealings
Jim Fisk and Jay Gould devised a plot to drastically raise the price of the gold market in 1869. On "Black Friday," September 24, 1869, the two bought a large amount of gold, planning to sell it for a profit. In order to lower the high price of gold, the Treasury was forced to sell gold from its reserves.
"Boss" Tweed employed bribery, graft, and fraudulent elections to milk New York of as much as $200 million. (Tweed Ring) Tweed was eventually put into prison.
A Carnival of Corruption
In addition to members of the general public being corrupt, members of the federal government also participated in unethical actions.
The Credit Mobilier scandal erupted in 1872 when Union Pacific Railroad insiders formed the Credit Mobilier construction company and then hired themselves at inflated prices to build the railroad line, earning high dividends. When it was found out that government officials were paid to stay quiet about the illicit business, some officials were censured.
The Liberal Republican Revolt of 1872
In response to disgust of the political corruption in Washington and of military Reconstruction, the Liberal Republican Party was formed in 1872.
The Liberal Republican Party met in Cincinnati and chose Horace Greeley as their presidential candidate for the election of 1872. The Democratic Party also chose Greeley as their candidate. The Republican Party continued to put its support behind President Grant. Grant won the election of 1872.
The Liberal Republicans caused the Republican Congress to pass a general amnesty act in 1872; removing political disabilities from most of the former Confederate leaders. Congress also reduced high Civil War tariffs and gave mild civil-service reform to the Grant administration.
Depression, Deflation, and Inflation
Over-speculating was the primary cause to the panic of 1873; too much expansion had taken place. Too many people had taken out loans of which they were unable to pay back due to lack of profit from where they had invested their money.
Due to popular mistrust of illegitimate dealings in the government, inflation soon depreciated the value of the greenback. Supported by advocates of hard money (coin money), the Resumption Act of 1875 required the government to continue to withdraw greenbacks from circulation and to redeem all paper currency in gold at face value beginning in 1879.
The coinage of silver dollars was stopped by Congress in 1873 when silver miners began to stop selling their silver to the federal mints - miners could receive more money for the silver elsewhere.
The Treasury began to accumulate gold stocks against the appointed day for the continuation of metallic money payments. This policy, along with the reduction of greenbacks, was known as "contraction."
When the Redemption Day came in 1879 for holders of greenbacks to redeem the greenbacks for gold, few did; the greenback's value had actually increased due to its reduction in circulation.
The Republican hard-money policy had a political backlash and helped to elect a Democratic House of Representatives in 1874.
Pallid Politics in the Gilded Age
Throughout most of the Gilded Age (a name given to the 30 years after the Civil War era by Mark Twain) the political parties in government had balanced out.
Few significant economic issues separated the Democrats and the Republicans.
Republican voters tended to stress strict codes of personal morality and believed that the government should play a role in regulating the economic and the moral affairs of society. They were found in the Midwest and Northeast. Many Republican votes came from the Grand Army of the Republic, a politically active fraternal organization of many Union veterans of the Civil War.
Democrats were immigrant Lutherans and Roman Catholics who believed in toleration of differences in an imperfect world. They also opposed the government imposing a single moral standard on the entire society. Democrats were found in the South and in the northern industrial cities.
A "Stalwart" faction led by Roscoe Conkling supported the system of swapping civil-servant jobs for votes. (Giving someone a job if they vote for a specific party/cause. "Spoils system") Opposed to the Stalwarts were the Half-Breeds, led by James G. Blaine. The main disagreement between the two groups was over who would give the jobs to the people who voted in their favor.