A Timeline of Reconstruction: 1865-1877

History 122


Thirteenth Amendment approved in January. Ratified in December. Abolished slavery in the United States.

Congress establishes Freedmen's Bureau in March to provide assistance to the emancipated slaves.

Assassination of President Lincoln, April 15. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes president.

End of the Civil War (April 9, 1965). Lee surrenders to Grant.

President Johnson presents plans for Reconstruction.

Benjamin Butler, notorious Union General in the Civil War and advocate of rights for African Americans, elected to Congress as a radical member of the Republican party.

Mississippi enacts Black Code.

Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction created.

Ku Klux Klan created in Tennessee.


Civil Rights Act passed despite Johnson's earlier veto.

Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution approved by Congress.

Memphis race riot/Massacre (May 1).

Freedmen's Bureau responsibilities and powers expanded by Congress. Legislation is vetoed by Johnson but Congress overrides his veto.

New Orleans Race Riot/Massacre (July 30).


First Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.

Second Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.

Third Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.

Republican convention in New Orleans. Party platform includes equality for African-Americans.


Former slave, Oscar J. Dunn, elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana.

Fourth Reconstruction Act passed.

Fourteenth Amendment ratified. Entitles all persons born or naturalized in the United States to citizenship and equal protection under the laws of the United States.

Francis L. Cardozo elected secretary of state in South Carolina. Holds office from 1868 to 1872.

Thaddeus Stevens, radical republican and supporter of land for Freedmen, dies.

John W. Menard of Louisiana elected to the United States Congress. Menard is barred from his seat by white members of Congress. When Menard pleaded his case to be seated, he became the first Black representative to speak on the floor of the House.

James J. Harris and P.B.S. Pinchback are the first African American delegates to a Republican convention. They support the nomination of Ulysses S. Grant for president.


Former Union General Ulysses S. Grant becomes president. Although allied with the Radical Republicans in Congress he does not provide strong leadership for Reconstruction.


Hiram Revels elected to U. S. Senate as the first black senator.

Jasper J. Wright elected to South Carolina Supreme court.

Fifteenth Amendment ratified. The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave the vote to all male citizens regardless of color or previous condition of servitude.

Joseph H. Rainey, first black member sworn in as member of U. S. House of Representatives. December 12, 1870.

1870 - 71

Forty-first Congress. Two black members in the House of Representatives including Robert Brown Elliot from the 3rd District in South Carolina.


Forty-second Congress. Five black members in the House of Representatives: Benjamin S. Turner of Alabama; Josiah T. Walls of Florida; and Robert Brown Elliot, Joseph H. Rainey and Robert Carlos DeLarge of South Carolina.

Act to Enforce Fourteenth Amendment (Ku Klux Klan Act).


Freedmen's Bureau abolished.

1872 - 1873

P. B. S. Pinchback, acting governor of Louisiana from December 9, 1872 to January 13, 1873. Pinchback, a black politician, was the first black to serve as a state governor, although due to white resistance, his tenure is extremely short.


Blanche K. Bruce elected to U. S. Senate.

Robert Smalls, black hero of the Civil War, elected to Congress as representative of South Carolina.

1873 - 75

Forty-third Congress. Six black members in House the House of Representatives.

1875 - 77

Forty-fourth Congress. Six black members in the House of Representatives.


March 1--Civil Rights Act enacted by Congress. It provides blacks with the right to equal treatment in public places and transportation.

The Supreme Court later declared this Act unconstitutional.

Blanche Kelso elected as Senator of Mississippi. He is the first African-American Senator to serve a complete six year term.


U. S. Senate votes not to seat P. B. S. Pinchback.

Wade Hampton inaugurated as governor of South Carolina. The election of Hampton, a leader in the Confederacy, confirms fears that the South is not committed to Reconstruction.


Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated President of the United States.


Forty-fifth Congress. Four black members in House.

Last federal troops leave South Carolina effectively ending the Federal government's presence in the South.

Robert Brown Elliott yields office of attorney general of South Carolina.

Created June 23, 1998 by F. L. Carr for GMU's History 122 with Professor O'Malley.

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