Georgia before the Civil War

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Georgia before the Civil War

Georgia's land expansion left the Cherokee and Creek Indians with little land. The Trans-Oconee Republic increased Georgia's size. The Yazoo Land Scandal led to a new system - the Land Lottery system.

Trans-Oconee Republic
     In 1794, Elijah Clarke, a retired war hero, and his followers took land from the Creek Indians and created his own independent state. He called it the Trans-Oconee Republic, since it was on the Oconee River. Within a year, Clarke had surrendered to the United States government, and the land was annexed into Georgia.

Yazoo Land Scandal
     The Yazoo Land Scandal involved several state government officials being bribed to sell land at unfairly low prices. It occurred from 1795 to 1803. It was one of the biggest political scandals of its time. Several Georgia governors were involved. The scandal ended in a new system of land distribution--the Land Lottery.

The Land Lottery System
     The Land Lottery System came out of the Yazoo Land Scandal. The Land Lottery took Creek Indian land and separated it into sections, to be given out in a lottery. The lottery allowed only certain people to participate. For example, persons entitled to draw in the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery were:

  • Free white bachelor male; 21 years old or older; with 1-year residence in Georgia; U.S. Citizen

  • Free white married male; with wife and/or child; 1-year residence in Georgia; U.S. Citizen

  • Widow; with at least one child; 1-year residence in Georgia

  • Minor orphan (or family of orphans); with father dead and mother dead/remarried

Single women, Indians, and free blacks could not participate in the Land Lottery.

During the antebellum era in Georgia, slavery dominated the economy, Native Americans were removed from the land, and the cities of Augusta, Savannah, and Atlanta thrived due to innovations in transportation.

Slavery in Georgia
     Slavery was the main source of labor in Georgia. Slaves helped grow and harvest cotton, rice, and other crops. Slavery was less a moral and ethical issue and more an issue of economics. Plantation and farm owners could not harvest their large fields without laborers, and they could not afford to pay wages to workers. Slaves allowed them to harvest their crops, and they only had to supply them with food and shelter.

Transportation in Georgia
     The steamboat and railroad changed the face of America and broadened the economy in Georgia. The railroad brought industry and new jobs to Atlanta. The city became a connecting spot for the railroad, and it grew practically overnight. Savannah and Augusta thrived because of the steamboat. Trade was increased and materials like textiles, rice, and other crops were in more demand than ever. The cotton gin also affected the economy, as cotton could be harvested quicker, allowing slaves to pick more cotton per day.

Indian Removal, Politics, and Culture
    In 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed, which led to the removal of the Creek and Cherokee Indians from Georgia by way of the Trail of Tears. Newspaper editorials talked about the rising number of slave revolts and the impending abolitionist movement in the North, but reports of the slave revolts were never made. Blacks and whites were separated in almost every aspect of their lives, including their work. Artisans were one of a few groups where blacks and whites could be found working together in the South

During the late 18th century and the early 19th century, Native Americans in Georgia and the South received more trouble from the United States government. Below are important people and events that led to the removal of the Cherokee from the South and the acquiring of tribes' lands by the U.S. government.

Important People
Alexander McGillivray: led the Creek Indians during the American Revolution. McGillivray went to a conference about American-Indian policy in 1790 at the invitation of George Washington and signed the Treaty of New York, which acknowledge that that the U.S. had sovereignty over Creek territory.

William McIntosh: Creek chief who fought against British in the War of 1812. McIntosh also fought along Andrew Jackson against the Seminole Indians. In 1825, McIntosh signed a treaty giving the Creek lands east of the Chattahoochee River to Georgia.

Sequoyah: created a written language for the Cherokee, consisting of 85 characters, in 1821. Sequoyah taught thousands of Cherokee to read.

John Ross: Cherokee chief who fought under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. Ross eventually signed a treaty giving Cherokee lands in Georgia to the U.S. and led his people on the Trail of Tears to present-day Oklahoma.

Andrew Jackson: President of the United States from 1829-1837. Jackson was nicknamed "Old Hickory" because of his toughness. Jackson used the spoils system to bring his friends into offices around him and signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, forcing Native Americans in Georgia and other southern states off their land and into present-day Oklahoma or other reservations out west.

John Marshall: fourth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, from 1801 to 1835. Marshall established that courts have a right to judicial review, which is the power to strike down laws that violate the U.S. Constitution.

Important Events
Dahlonega Gold Rush: the first gold rush in the U.S. Dahlonega was a boomtown during the Georgia Gold Rush. The Dahlonega Gold Rush was one of the main reasons for the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears that forced the Cherokee to move to Oklahoma.

Trail of Tears: a 1,200 mile route from Georgia and other Southern states to present-day Oklahoma. The trail was three separate routes that met and split apart at different spots. Along the trail, thousands of Cherokee died from starvation, exhaustion, and exposure to weather.

Worcester v. Georgia: a Supreme Court case in 1832 in which the Supreme Court held that Native Americans had rights to federal protection from a state government's actions if those actions violated the tribe's sovereignty, or right to rule.

Civil War

There were many factors which contributed to the Civil War. One of the major issues was the debate over the expansion of slavery into new states. Congress came up with several compromises in an effort to appease the interests of northern and southern states.

Missouri Compromise

In 1819, Missouri wanted to be admitted the Union. At this time, there was an equal number of free and slave states. Free states did not want to admit Missouri as a slave state and change the balance of power in favor of the slave states. In 1820, Henry Clay of Kentucky played a major role in getting northerners and southerners in Congress to agree on the Missouri Compromise. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri, a slave state, and Maine, a free state, were both admitted to the Union. This kept the number of slave and free states equal. The Missouri Compromise also made slavery illegal in the Louisiana Territory north of Missouri's southern border.

Compromise of 1850

The Compromise of 1850 dealt with the issue of slavery in territory that the U.S. acquired as a result of the Mexican War. Henry Clay proposed the idea that California would be admitted as a free state, and the territories of New Mexico and Utah would decide the issue of slavery by popular sovereignty, meaning that the people who lived there were able to vote on whether or not slavery would be allowed.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, slavery was not allowed areas that were part of the Louisiana Territory and were north of Missouri's southern border. In 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois introduced a bill to create the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and to let those territories decide on the issue of slavery by popular sovereignty. The bill was favored by southerners, but opposed by northerners. Despite the opposition, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and repealed part of the Missouri Compromise in the process.

Abraham Lincoln, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster were all people who played significant roles in events leading up to the Civil War.

Presidential Election of 1860

In the presidential election of 1860, the issue of slavery divided the country and divided the Democratic party. Northern Democrats chose Stephen Douglas of Illinois as their candidate. Southern Democrats were not pleased with Stephen Douglas's position on slavery, so they chose John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky as their candidate. The newly formed Constitutional-Union party did not take a stand on slavery and nominated John Bell of Tennessee. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was the Republican candidate. Abraham Lincoln won all of his electoral votes from free states, and John C. Breckinridge won all of his electoral votes from slave states. With 180 electoral votes, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. In response to Lincoln's election, southern states began seceding from the Union.

Abraham Lincoln

By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president on March 4, 1861, seven slaves states had seceded from the Union. The Civil War began shortly afterwards. Throughout the Civil War, Lincoln wanted to restore the Union. Lincoln is known for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in which he declared slaves in the Confederate states "then, thenceforward, and forever free." Lincoln gave a memorable speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. He was re-elected as president in 1864 and was assassinated after the end of the Civil War in April of 1865.

John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun served in the federal government as congressman, secretary of war, vice president, senator, and secretary of state. He served as vice president under John Quincy Adams from 1825 until 1829 and served as vice president under Andrew Jackson from 1829 until 1832. When Congress passed the Tariff of 1828, many southerners were angered because they had to pay higher prices for goods. Calhoun voiced his opposition to the tariff in the "South Carolina Exposition and Protest," which was printed in the summer of 1828. In it, Calhoun argued if favor of states' rights by saying that a state could decide if an act of Congress was unconstitutional and then declare the law null and void. In 1832, Calhoun decided not to run for re-election to the vice presidency and chose to run for senate instead.

Henry Clay

Henry Clay served as the Speaker of the House in the U.S. House of Representatives and later served as a senator. He played an important role in the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise Tariff Act of 1833, and the Compromise of 1850. Under the terms of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri entered the Union as a slave state, and Maine entered the Union as a free state. The compromise also prohibited slavery in territories acquired as a result of the Louisiana Purchase that were north of Missouri's southern border. In 1832, South Carolina nullified the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and threatened to secede from the Union if the U.S. decided to enforce the Tariff of 1832 within the state borders. Henry Clay proposed the Compromise Tariff, which reduced the rates of the tariff over several years and prevented the secession of South Carolina. The Compromise of 1850 dealt with the issue of slavery in territories that the United States had acquired as a result of the Mexican War. Henry Clay proposed the idea that California would be admitted as a free state, and the territories of New Mexico and Utah would decide the issue of slavery by popular sovereignty. Because of his ability to negotiate these compromises, he became known as the Great Pacificator.

Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster was a statesman, lawyer, and orator from Massachusetts. In 1830, Webster debated Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina in the Webster-Hayne debates over whether or not a state could nullify a federal law. Senator Hayne argued that states had the right to nullify a bill that the Congress had passed. Daniel Webster argued that only the Supreme Court had the right to decide whether or not a law was constitutional. There was much disagreement over what rights states had, and the issue of states' rights continued play an important role in American politics leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War. Daniel Webster was opposed to the expansion of slavery but did not want the Union to break apart.

The Civil War, fought between the Union and the Confederacy, went from 1860 to 1865. In that time, a president took office (and was later reelected), states seceded, battles were fought, and important speeches were made. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. Below is a timeline of important events and battles during the Civil War.

Timeline of Civil War Events

Election of 1860: Abraham Lincoln wins the presidential election, and the South fears that the Republican president is a threat to the Southern way of life. Lincoln defeated Southern Democrat Breckinridge and Northern Democrat Douglas.

South Carolina secedes, December 1860: South Carolina secedes from the Union as a reaction to the election of 1860. Eleven states eventually followed and formed the Confederacy.

Georgia secedes, January 1861: Georgia secedes from the Union and joins the Confederacy shortly after. Georgia later became the last state readmitted to the Union in 1870.

Battle of Fort Sumter, April 1861: Confederate soldiers fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, which is occupied by Union soldiers. This battle, on April 12, marks the beginning of the Civil War.

First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 1861: The Union army advances on Richmond and is pushed back by Confederate soldiers. This battle, on July 16, marks the first major engagement of the Civil War.

Battle of Antietam, September 1862: The battle takes place near Antietam Creek in Maryland and becomes the first major battle on Northern land. The battle also is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.

Andersonville POW Camp: Andersonville, Georgia becomes the home of Camp Sumter, a Prisoner-of-War site. Thousands of Union soldiers are confined in horrible conditions. Over 13,000 soldiers die in this POW camp.

Emancipation Proclamation, January 1863: Lincoln declares all slaves in Confederate states are now free. Slaves in the Union states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware are not free. This proclamation changes the goal of the war to ending slavery instead of just preserving the Union.

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1863: Union leader Meade stops the Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. This battle is one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War, with both the North and South losing thousands of soldiers. Along with Vicksburg, this Union win becomes a turning point in the war.

Battle of Vicksburg, July 1863: General Grant defeats the Confederate Army at Vicksburg, Mississippi on July 4. The Union now controls all of the Mississippi River, and the Confederate states Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas are cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. This battle, along with Gettysburg, becomes a turning point in the war.

Battle of Chickamauga, September 1863: The Confederate Army, led by Tennessee General Braxton Brigg, fights the Union Army in south-central Tennessee and northwestern Georgia, near Chickamauga Creek. The Confederate Army defeats the Union Army, temporarily stopping the Union advance in Tennessee and Georgia.

Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address, November 1863: Lincoln speaks at Gettysburg at a ceremony dedicating the battlefield as a cemetery for those who died in that battle. The speech becomes one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history.

General William Sherman's March to the Sea, 1864: William Tecumseh Sherman captures Atlanta, Georgia for the Union army. After capturing Atlanta, Sherman leads his army across the south to the Atlantic coast. Sherman's army sets fire to towns and destroys anything that might help the South's war effort, including crops, bridges, and railroad tracks.

Election of 1864: Sherman's capture of Atlanta helps Lincoln to win back the support of the Republican Party just in time for the election. Lincoln defeats McClellan, his former general, to be re-elected President of the United States.

Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House, April 1865: Lee surrenders to Grant on April 9 after his troops become surrounded by Union troops while retreating from Richmond. Lee surrenders without permission from Confederate President Davis, and the Civil War comes to an end.

John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln, April 1865: While at the theater, an actor named John Wilkes Booth assassinates Lincoln on April 14, just 6 days after Lee had surrendered to Grant and ended the Civil War.

Reconstruction and Segregation

After the Civil War, Georgia and the rest of the South went through a period of Reconstruction. This involved political and economic changes that were resisted across the South. Also during this time, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were passed, giving African-Americans more civil rights.

Reconstruction in Politics
     After the Civil War, President Lincoln proposed a Reconstruction of the South. His plan, known as the 10% plan, allowed a Southern state to rejoin the Union once 10% of its voters took a loyalty oath to the Union and promised to support the Emancipation Proclamation.
     Also during Reconstruction, three amendments were passed. The 13th Amendment, in 1865, made slavery illegal in the U.S. The 14th Amendment, in 1866, granted citizenship and civil liberties protection to freed slaves. The 15th Amendment gave the right to vote to all men "regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude." Many Southern states refused to ratify these amendments, and created "Black Codes," laws that restricted the rights of African-Americans. These codes varied from state to state. Southern states also began voting only for Democrats, in order to decrease the number of African-American and Republican legislators. By 1877, Georgia political offices were all held by Democrats.

Reconstruction in Economics and Society
     The South's economy was in ruins after the Civil War. Plantation and farm owners could no longer rely on free labor to help bring in the crops. Freed slaves had no skills other than farming. Sharecropping allowed plantation owners to retain their labor, by giving up farmland and using slave-housing, and gave slaves a chance to make a living by paying rent through a share of crops grown on the land. The Freedmen's Bureau was created to help get freed slaves an education.
     Three other groups also became a part of the South's economy and society. Scalawags were former Southern Democrats turned Republicans. The name was given to them by Southern Democrats. Carpetbaggers were Northern businessmen and politicians who came to the South to ensure federal laws were followed. Southerners saw them as profiting from their misfortunes after the war. Finally, the Ku Klux Klan was a loosely organized group of Southerners against the Republican Party. Their goals included white supremacy and the political defeat of the Republican Party.

After the Civil War, Southern Democrats in Georgia and other Southern states fought for a one-party political system.

     Southern Democrats in Georgia were unhappy with the Reconstruction efforts in the South. Arguments were held over the 14th Amendment, giving slaves the right to hold position in government and other civil rights. Conservative white Democrats fought the 14th Amendment and removed all black legislators from the government in 1868. By 1877, white Democrats were in full control of the government.

     In Georgia, the one-party system nearly guaranteed only Democratic candidates would win political races. Between 1872 and 2003, Georgians only elected Democratic governors, and Democrats held most of the seats in the General Assembly.

Georgia, along with other Southern states, used legal and illegal means to enforce segregation of the races in social and political situations. Some of these included Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan activities, the grandfather clause, white primaries, and the literacy test and poll tax.

  • Jim Crow laws: laws created in the South after Reconstruction to keep blacks and whites segregated in society (drinking fountains, restrooms, restaurants, stores, etc.). Supreme Court upheld Jim Crow laws in 1896, then reversed their position in 1954.

  • Ku Klux Klan: political organization of white Protestants who did not want blacks to have political or economic freedom. Members used scare tactics to change people's votes at the polls, and engaged in whipping and lynching blacks. Carpetbaggers and scalawags were also harassed during Reconstruction.

  • Grandfather clause: law that stated if a person could prove they were from British descent or if their ancestor had voted they did not have to pay the poll tax or take the literacy test to vote. Blacks could not prove this and were forced to pay the tax, which most could not afford, and take the literacy test, which most could not pass.

  • White primaries: primary elections held by the Georgia Democratic party kept out black voters. They made the primaries "white only" to keep black voters from influencing the candidate choices.

  • Literacy tests and poll taxes: two ways that kept blacks from voting in the South. Unless the grandfather clause applied, a person had to pay a tax and prove they could read to be able to vote. The literacy test was so hard, well-educated people could not pass the test. The poll tax was high enough that many blacks, especially sharecroppers, could not afford to pay the tax.

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