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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

1866-1869 Events


Congress approves the Fourteenth Amendment , which extends full citizenship rights to former slaves. It is ratified by the states two years later.

Fisk Free School is established in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1871, it becomes Fisk University.

Race riots break out in Memphis, Tennessee. The riots last for three days. At least forty-six blacks are killed.

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1866 , which declares that blacks are citizens and grants them equal rights, and a measure extending the life of the Freedmen's Bureau , an organization that provides schooling, food, medical care, and jobs to recently freed African Americans. President Johnson vetoes both bills; both vetoes are overridden.

In the November elections, the Radical Republicans strengthen their hold on Congress, setting the stage for a showdown with President Johnson over Reconstruction .

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) , an organization dedicated to white supremacy, holds its first meeting in Pulaski, Tennessee.

Congress approves the creation of six new all-black regiments. The regiments, nicknamed " buffalo soldiers ," are assigned to territories in the West.


Five black colleges are founded: Howard University (Washington, D.C.), Talladega College (Talladega, Alabama), Morgan State College (Baltimore, Maryland), Johnson C. Smith College (Charlotte, North Carolina) and St. Augustine's College (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Congress passes the First Reconstruction Act over President Johnson 's veto. It divides the South into five military districts and authorizes the U.S. Army to enroll voters. These voters elect state conventions that will draw up constitutions guaranteeing black political rights.

Sculptor Edmonia Lewis creates Forever Free. One of her best-known early marbles, the sculpture depicts a black couple hearing the news that slavery is over.


Constitutional conventions begin to meet in southern states. Blacks participate fully in the conventions.

The House of Representatives votes to impeach President Johnson , mainly for impeding congressional Reconstruction of the former Confederate states. The Senate fails to convict Johnson by one vote.

With strong support from newly enfranchised blacks, Ulysses S. Grant wins the presidency in the November elections.


Congress adopts the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees voting rights to every male citizen regardless of race or previous condition of servitude. It is ratified by the states one year later.

Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett is appointed U.S. minister to Haiti. He is believed to be the first African-American diplomat.

Facts on File

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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