Civil war and reconstruction study guid

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Be able to explain the who, what, why, where, how, and significance of:

The Civil War

Dates; national, diplomatic, and military strategies of each side; strengths and limitations of each side in the conflict (refer to your chart) (OM 534-35; 538-39)

Lincoln’s position on the nature of the union

Continental Association, Declaration of Independence, “perpetual union,” “more perfect union”

Confederate position on the nature of the union

Alliance to fight British; compact between states, 10th amendment and states’ rights; “northern heresy”

Competing meanings of “freedom” (what each side was fighting for)

CSA: “Bonnie Blue Flag,” states’ rights, property rights, economic self-sufficiency, no submission to North

Union: “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Gettysburg Address,” preservation of U.S. as free nation and model to world; death of slavery; equality before the law (Foner)

Fort Sumter

Charleston harbor; Robert Anderson; Abraham Lincoln; Jefferson Davis; how did the status of the fort become a symbol; significance of the attack including secession of additional states (OM 532-33)

Border states

Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri; why important to keep each in union; Lincoln’s actions to keep each in (OM 533-34)

Diplomatic strategies during the war

CSA: gain foreign recognition/support; cotton, embargo and consequences

USA: block foreign recognition; Trent affair; why British did not help South; Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln and the Republican economic program

Why able to get it passed. Pacific Railway Act of 1862, Homestead Act, Morrill Land Grant Act, Department of Agriculture (OM 536-38; 593)

Manpower for the military

CSA: first draft in American history; 18-35(45); substitutes; “rich man’s war, poor man’s fight” and its meaning; USA: volunteers, draft in 1863, substitutes; New York City Draft Riots, 1863, factors that produced them; role played by African Americans in the military; problems faced by African American troops including discrimination (OM 540, 547-48, 553-54)

Bull Run (First)

First real battle; fought in Virginia near Washington; illusions about the war (OM 534)


Bloodiest single day; 2 major consequences

Anaconda Plan

Winfield Scott; naval blockade (constitutional issue; Prize cases), retake Mississippi; U.S. Grant, Shiloh; David Farragut, New Orleans; turning point in west Vicksburg 1863 (OM 541-43)


Control of Mississippi; U.S. Grant; turning point in west; 1863 (OM 555-56)


Robert E. Lee; offensive-defensive strategy; turning point in east; 1863 (OM 555-56)

Total war strategy

1864-65; Grant; William T. Sherman; March to the Sea; Wilderness Campaign; unconditional surrender (OM 556-58)

The Wilderness

Virginia; 1864; U.S.Grant; Robert E. Lee; war of attrition (OM 556-57)

March to the Sea

William T. Sherman; scorched earth/total war; Georgia and Carolinas (OM 556-57)


U.S. Grant; Robert E. Lee; terms of surrender (OM 559)

New military technologies

Rifles, ironclads (Monitor v. Merrimac), balloons,

Lincoln and expansion of Presidential power

Martial law; suspension of writ of habeas corpus; ex parte Milligan; budget; naval blockade, Prize cases; call for troops in 1861; Emancipation Proclamation (did he have authority to do it); Lincoln and dissent (OM 535-36, 552; Foner)

Death of slavery

Lincoln’s position on slavery; Slaves running to freedom (contrabands); Emancipation Proclamation of 1863; purposes for issuing it; who was freed by it; significance of it; how all slaves ultimately freed; 13th amendment (OM 546-47, Greeley letter, Foner)

Second Inaugural Address

Lincoln’s explanation of why the Civil War occurred; how similar to Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”; Lincoln’s conception of God (active in history, will can’t be changed by human beings, just); desire for reconciliation (“judge not,” no “malice,” responsibilities to those who fought

Gettysburg Address

Lincoln’s interpretation of the war (test, new birth of freedom); meaning of “under God,” “new birth of freedom,” “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”

Methods used by USA to finance war

Borrowing/war bonds; Legal Tender Act, “greenback dollars;” new taxes; inflationary effect of greenbacks (OM 536-38)

Radical Republicans

Goals; leaders (Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, Benjamin Wade); dislike of Andrew Johnson (OM 573-75)

Reconstruction (period)

1865-1877; 4 key issues involved in Reconstruction era and how they were handled; how the war changed the federal government (expanded power, national citizenship, conception of government as definer and protector of rights); the 3 Reconstruction amendments and what they accomplished; educating and assisting freed people (Freedmen’s Bureau; O.M. Howard)

Presidential theory of Reconstruction

Status of states; how they could be restored to active role; how Andrew Johnson implemented this approach; why he got into trouble with Congress over it (notes; OM 573);

Congressional theory of Reconstruction

State suicide; how they could be restored to the Union; First Reconstruction Act of 1867 (notes; OM 575); Supreme Court Texas v. White; factors leading to “Radical Reconstruction” (e.g., black codes)

Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

Tenure of Office Act; political basis for impeachment vote; outcome of trial and consequences including precedent set (OM 575-76)

Disenfranchisement of African Americans and segregation

use of violence and intimidation; Ku Klux Klan; literacy tests, poll taxes; grandfather clause; fusion tickets; segregation, Civil Rights cases of 1883, Plessy v. Ferguson, John Marshall Harlan

Remembering the war

human costs of the war; Memorial Day; “Lost Cause”

Southern agriculture

Sharecropping, crop lien; role of local merchants; problems with cotton industry

Southern Republicans

“carpetbaggers,” “scalawags,” and African Americans; goals of Republican state governments; successes and failures (OM 586-88)

Southern white resistance and “redemption”

Ku Klux Klan, Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, Democrats’ role, Supreme Court decisions that limited application of 14th amendment (OM 588-90)

Women’s rights

controversy over women voting; National Woman Suffrage Association (Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton), Revolution; American Woman Suffrage Association (Lucy Stone); Women’s Christian Temperance Union, “For God, home, and native land,” Frances Willard; struggle to get into professions; Belva Lockwood; Victoria Woodhull; free love; marriage (various positions on it); control over own body; Comstock law of 1873 (Foner, OM 578-79, Susan Anthony speech)

Southern poverty

sources of capital; role of local merchants; crop lien system, tenant farming, and sharecropping; problems of cotton industry (OM 590-592)

Northern economy in Reconstruction era

shift to factory system and dependence on industry over agriculture; centrality of railroads to economy; trans-continental railroads; role of Chinese; corruption; Credit Mobilier scandal (OM 592-94)

Electoral crisis of 1876

Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden; what caused electoral crisis; how it was resolved; Compromise of 1877 and end of Reconstruction (OM 596-97)

Study Questions:

  1. What were the dates of the Civil War? What issues unresolved by the Revolution were resolved by this war and how? How does the Civil War meet the three tests of what constitutes a civil war?

  2. What was Lincoln’s first priority in conducting the war? How did this impact his position on slavery? What steps did Lincoln take to end slavery?

  3. What factors made it difficult for Kentuckians to decide which side to support during the war? Why did Kentucky remain in the Union?

  4. What was the cost of the Civil War in lives? How does this compare to other U.S. conflicts? What made the mortality rate so high? (technology, tactics, medical care)

  5. What were the relative advantages and disadvantages of each side going into the war?

  6. What connection was made between African American military service during the war and citizenship? Give a similar example from the Vietnam War.

  7. How did the Civil War and Reconstruction change Americans’ conception of nationhood? (Notes; Foner 97-99; 107; 112-113)

  8. What were the Reconstruction Amendments, what did they provide, and how did they change both the definition of freedom and the role of the Federal government? (OM 578, Foner 105-107) Be able to give the four key parts of Section 1 of the 14th amendment. (Reading Guide 4)

  9. Why did sharecropping and the crop lien system come to dominate Southern farming? How did this lead to over-reliance on cotton and what were the long term consequences? What group benefited from this system and formed a new Southern elite? (OM 584; 590-92)

  10. Explain these two ways of remembering the War: “waving the bloody shirt” and “the Lost Cause.” Which one won out in the end? Why? (Notes)

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