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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

1865 Events

• A Congress dominated by Radical Republicans convenes in Washington; the radicals advocate equal rights for blacks and a tough Reconstruction program for the South.

• Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment , abolishing slavery throughout the United States and its territories. It is ratified by the states later in the year.

• President Lincoln considers the possibility of returning all southern blacks to Africa but is advised that it is logistically impossible.

• Congress establishes the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen's Bureau , to provide aid to former slaves and others who have been displaced or impoverished by the war.

• The main Confederate field army surrenders at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, and the Civil War is brought to a close.

• Under the pen name "Rollin," Thomas Morris Chester—the only black journalist writing for a major daily newspaper at this time—reports on the Union Army's victory at Richmond, Virginia.

• Union general William T. Sherman issues Special Field Order No. 15. The order, popularly known as " forty acres and a mule ," sets aside forty-acre plots in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida for African Americans, and authorizes the temporary loan of army horses and mules to newly-freed blacks. President Johnson later reverses the policy.

• John Sweat Rock becomes the first black attorney to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. However, he never argues any cases.

• John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Lincoln . Andrew Johnson becomes president.

• Black Codes , laws that sharply restrict blacks' freedom, are enacted by all-white legislatures in the former Confederate states.

• In December, President Johnson declares that the Reconstruction of the South is complete, yet most southern states deny even limited political rights to former slaves.

• Thousands of African Americans become depositors in the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company , chartered by the U.S. Congress, with business limited to African Americans.

• Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Minnesota deny the vote to blacks.

Facts On File

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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