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1787 - 1864 // 1865 - 1866 // 1867 - 1868 // 1869 - 1870
April 1865

Civil War Ends:  On April 9, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

Reconstruction in Louisiana:  On April 11, President Lincoln remarked publicly concerning enfranchisement of the state’s black men that he would “prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.” 

Lincoln’s Assassination:  On April 15, President Lincoln died from wounds suffered during the attack by assassin John Wilkes Booth.  Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, was sworn in as president.

May 1865

Presidential Reconstruction:  On May 29, 1865, while Congress was in recess, President Andrew Johnson began implementing his Reconstruction Plan, which did not require the enfranchisement of black men in the former Confederate states.

October 1865

Suffrage in the North:  On October 2, Connecticut voters rejected a referendum to enfranchise black men in their state.

November 1865

Suffrage in the North:  On November 7, voters in Wisconsin and Minnesota rejected referenda to enfranchise black men in their states.

Black Codes:  Mississippi became the first of the former Confederate states to enact a “Black Code,” which severely limited the rights and liberties of blacks.  Over the next few months, other Southern states passed similar legislation. 

December 1865

Suffrage in D.C.:  On December 4, Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts introduced a bill to enfranchise black men in the District of Columbia.  A week later, Republican Congressman James F. Wilson of Iowa, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced another bill to grant suffrage to black men in the District of Columbia.  A popular referendum to enfranchise black men was defeated overwhelmingly by the district’s white voters. 

Thirteenth Amendment Ratified:  On December 6, the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, achieved the constitutionally required ratification by three-quarters of the states (27 of 36).  On December 18, Secretary of State William Henry Seward declared it officially ratified and part of the United States Constitution.

January 1866

Suffrage in D.C.:  The District of Columbia Suffrage Bill passed the House on January 18, 1866, but died in the Senate.

June 1866

Fourteenth Amendment Proposed:  The Senate approved the proposed Fourteenth Amendment by the necessary two-thirds majority on June 8, and the House did so on June 13.  Secretary of State William Henry Seward officially submitted it to the states on June 16 for ratification or rejection.  Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment authorized Congress to reduce the number of a state’s federal representatives when it denied the ballot to adult males, except for crime or participation in rebellion.  Since the vast majority of black men lived in the South, the section was intended to compel states in the region to face the choice of enfranchising black men or possibly losing seats in the U.S. House.

Fall 1866

Congressional Elections:  Republicans gained veto-proof majorities in Congress by gaining 18 seats in the Senate and 37 in the House.


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