Chapter 4 - The Civil War and Reconstruction


Terms for Week 4 

  • Fort Sumter
  • Jefferson Davis
  • New York City Draft Riot, 1863
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Ulysses S. Grant
  • Emancipation Proclamation, 1862
  • Battle of Vicksburg
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Sherman's March to the Sea
  • Stand Watie
  • Appomattox Court House
  • Congressional Reconstruction
  • Radical Republicans
  • Radical Republican leaders:
  • Senator Charles SumnerMassachusetts
  • Congressman Thaddeus StevensPennsylvania
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Reconstruction Amendments
    • Thirteenth Amendment
    • Fourteenth Amendment
    • Fifteenth Amendment
  • Freedmen's Bureau 
  • Black Codes
  • Mississippi Vagrancy Act, 1866
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Sunday School League
  • Mississippi Plan
  • Compromise of 1877 
  • "Birth of A Nation"
  • grandfather clause
  • sharecropping
  • Ben Tillman


The Civil War was second only to World War II as the bloodiest military contest in which Americans have been engaged.  Nearly 365,000 men, women and children were killed between 1861 and 1865 compared to the 405,000 American deaths in World War II.  However because the population of the U.S. in 1860 was 31 million and in 1940 it was 132 million, the Civil War's impact on the nation was far greater.  The vignettes below describe the carnage that became so typical of Civil War battles.  The first is a description of the 1862 Battle of Antietam by future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and the second is Walt Whitman's description of the Battle of Chancellorsville (Va.) in 1863.

Holmes: On coming near the brow of the hill, we met a party carrying picks and spades.  "How many?"  "Only one."  The dead were nearly all buried, then, in this region of the field of strife.  We stopped the wagon, and, getting out, began to look around us.  Hard by was a large pile of muskets, scores, if not hundreds, which had been picked up, and were guarded for the Government.  A long ridge of fresh gravel rose before us.  A board stuck up in front of it bore this inscription, the first part of which was, I believe, not correct:  "The Rebel General Anderson and 80 Rebels are buried in this hole."

     Other smaller ridges were marked with the number of dead lying under them.  The whole ground was strewn with fragments of clothing, haversacks, canteens, cap boxes, bullets, cartridges, scraps of paper, portions of bread and meat.  I saw two solders' caps that looked as though their owners had been shot through the head.  In several places I noticed dark red patches where a pool of blood had curdled and caked, as some poor fellow poured his life out on the sod.

Whitman: The night was very pleasant, at times the moon shining out full and clear, all Nature so calm in itself, the early summer grass so rich, and the foliage of the treesyet there the battle raging, and many good fellows lying helpless, and every minute amid the rattle of muskets and cannon the red lifeblood oozing out from heads or trunks or limbs upon that green and dewcool grass.  Patches of the woods take fire, and several of the wounded, unable to move, are consumedquite large spaces are swept over, burning the dead also.  Then the camps of the wounded.  There they lie, from 200 to 300 poor fellowsthe groans and screams, the odor of blood, mixed with the fresh scent of the night, the grass, the treesthat slaughterhouse!  One man is shot by a shell, both in the arm and legboth are amputatedthere lie the rejected members.  Some have their legs blown offsome bullets through the breastsome indescribably horrid wounds in the face or head, all mutilated, sickening, torn, gouged outsome mere boys.

Source: Stephan Thernstrom, A History of the American People, Vol. I, (New York, 1989), pp. 389, 395. 


Lincoln's election in 1860 moved the nation toward division.  In the following letter from Edward Barnell Heyward, a South Carolina planter to his friend, James A. Lord in Connecticut, Southern fears of a Republican administration are explained.  This letter was written one month before South Carolina seceded from the Union.

                                         November 20, 1860

My Dear Jim: might interest you to hear how I am living and what my occupations may be, and also to hear from a State which just now by her political position is somewhat the object of attraction in this country.  In January next we shall take leave of the Union and shall construct with our Sister Cotton States a government for ourselves.  Whether the other Slave States will join seem very uncertain at least for the present.  The condition of affairs at the North since the election of an Abolitionist for President makes it necessary for us to get away as quickly as possible.  We have on hand about three million Bales of Cotton and plenty to eat & clothe ourselves with, and what is most important our working population have masters to take care of them and will not feel any pressure such as will soon come upon the operatives in the manufacturing States at the North.  Of course we shall declare free trade with the whole world and having no manufactures to protect we shall bring about such a competition with the manufactures of this Country and those of Europe that the profits in such business at the North will be seriously reduced.  In the Country here the planters are all quiet and our crops going to market as usual.  If there is no money in the banks we can go without it till England and France and perhaps the North send the gold for the cotton which they must have or go all to ruin.  I have about 130 Bales of Cotton on my plantation to sell, and about 3000 bshls of corn and one hundred Hogs now fattening for the negroes to eat and their winter clothes I will get in a few days.  I have plenty of Beef & mutton to feed my family upon and I think I and all around me could stand hard times better than some of the rich abolitionists of your part of the World.  If you were a rich man Jim I should advise you to quit the North &and come here and live in quiet, but you have nothing to loose by the Revolution that I suppose must ensue upon the present overthrow of our beautiful government.  The Northern men must rouse themselves and shake off the Tyrants who now rule over them, or they will soon be numbered among the Nations which have over them, or them will soon be numbered among the Nations which have been!  You live among a manufacturing people and you know better than I what the conditions of things would be in case the operatives were all dismissed, or put on starvation prices for the next year.  If times get very hot you had better come on here, & try farming where there is a distinction between a white man and a black one, which is not found in Connecticut.

Do write me as before, care of Messrs. Wm. C. Bee and Co., Charleston, S.C. soon and tell me what is going on at home and about at the North.  When next I write I shall belong to another government for which I shall be thankful...

                                     Yours most Affectionately, E.B. Heyward 

Source: Stanley I Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), p. 399.


Seceding State
Date of Secession
South Carolina
December 20, 1860
January 9, 1861
January 10, 1861
January 11, 1861
January 19, 1861
January 26, 1861
February 1, 1861

Confederate Government Organized in Montgomery, Alabama

February 4, 1861

Confederate Bombardment of Federal Garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina

April 12, 1861
April 17, 1861
May 6, 1861
North Carolina
May 20, 1861
June 8, 1861


Susanna Sparks Keitt, a South Carolinian whose husband had participated in the state convention which voted to secede, wrote her Philadelphia friend, Mrs. Frederick Brown, on March 4, 1861, explaining why the Southern states left the Union.

My Dear Friend

You must believe me when I say we did not break up the Union you so much love nor bring about the crisis you so much deplore. 'Tis true we have refused to accept Lincoln for a president.  What of that?  Did you think the people of the South, the Lords Proprietors of the Land, would let this low fellow rule for them?  No!  His vulgar facetiousness may suit the race of clock makers and wooden nutmeg vendorseven Wall Street brokers may accept him, since they do not protestbut never will he receive the homage of southern gentlemen.  See the disgusting spectacle now presented to the world by the Federal government.  The President Elect of the American people, on his triumphal march to the Capitol, exhibits himself at railway depots, bandies jokes with the populaces, kissed bold women from promiscuous crowds, jests with [prize] fighters.... Oh, shame, shame.  Should we submit to such degradation?

Who are these Black Republicans? A motley throng of...infidels, free lovers, interspersed by Bloomer women, fugitive slaves, and amalgamists.  What are...the doctrines they teach?  Equity and justice?  Peace and Good Will toward men?  No, but the Jesuitical dogma of the expediency of crime when a doubtful good may come.  Such crimes as murder, arson, perjury, and theft find ready absolution if the record be accompanied by a stolen slave, and have the red seal of southern blood...

With a rancor and hatred worthy of a foreign foe, the Republicans prepare for a war of extermination.  Yes, extermination, for they know as well as we do that thus only can they conquer us.  See their bloody programme.  The dykes [sic] of the Mississippi must be cut, and the minds of our happy slaves poisoned of thought of murder and conflagration.  How can you counsel submission to such a people?  We loved the Union; but our lives, homes, and kindred are dear to us and cannot be sacrificed to a Memory....Yes, war let it be if war they desire.  And the Stars and Stripes will shame their ancient glories when the "Southern Cross" takes the field.  And if the fate of Carthagenia be ours, we women, like those of old, will cut our hair for bowstrings to plague the enemy as long as possible.

You still hope for reunion.  A vain hope unless our conditions be accepted.  Here they are:  Hang all your...Garrisons, Greeleys, and Ward Beechers, incarcerate your Garret Smiths, unite your Sumners and Sewards to ebony spouses and send them as resident Timbuctoo and Ashantee [African kingdoms].   Purge the halls of Congress and the White House...of their presence, and attach the death penalty to all future agitation of the slavery question.  When these things are done, then, and not till then, will we consider the question of reunion.

Our relations have been so pleasant it would pain me to see them altered, but I must candidly say that I can make no distinction between atcostof war Union Lovers and ultra Black Republicans.  The matter of our continued friendship must now be decided by you.

Source: Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 403406.


Number of States  
Real and Personal Property
$ 11,000,000,000
$ 5,370,000,000
John Bell
Constitutional Union
Banking Capital
$  330,000,000
$ 27,00,000
Capital Investment
$ 850,000,000
$ 95,000,000
Manufacturing Establishments
Value of Production (annual) 
$ 1,500,000,000
$ 155,000,000
Industrial Workers
Railroad Mileage

* 40% were slaves, 3,500,000


Written during the heart of the Civil War, this is one of Abraham Lincoln's most famous letters. Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, had just addressed an editorial to Lincoln called "The Prayer of Twenty Millions," making demands and implying that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve.

President Lincoln made his reply when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer. His response revealed his concentration on preserving the Union. The letter, which received acclaim in the North, stands as a classic statement of Lincoln's constitutional responsibilities. A few years after the president's death, Greeley wrote an assessment of Lincoln. He stated that Lincoln did not actually respond to his editorial but used it instead as a platform to prepare the public for his "altered position" on emancipation.

Executive Mansion
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

A. Lincoln.


The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, had a profound effect on the Union, the Confederacy, and of course, black Americans.  Part of the document appears below.

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas, the twentysecond day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty two, a proclamation was signed by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixtythree, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the persons whereof shall then whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, henceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to suppress such person, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom...  

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and hence-forward shall be free, and that the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that in all cases when allowed they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed services of the United States to garrison forts, position, stations, and other places and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And  upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment and mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God...

Source: John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), pp. 532-533.


In July, 1863 a predominately Irish mob rioted against the newly enacted federal draft and vented their fury particularly on New York City blacks.  Dr. John Torrey in the following account describes the riot. 

New York, July 13th, 1863

Dear Doctor

We have had great riots in New York today & they are still in progress.  They were reported to us at the Assay office about noon, but I thought they were exaggerated... In 49 st. they [the rioters] were numerous, & made, as I was passing near the College, an attack upon one of a row of new houses in our street.  The rioters were induced to go away by one or two Catholic priests, who made pacific speeches to them.  I found Jane & Maggie [his black servants] a little alarmed, but not frightened.  The mob had been in the College Grounds, & came to our housewishing to know if a republican lived there, & what the College building was used for.  They were going to burn Pres. King's house, as he was rich, & a decided republican.  They barely desisted when addressed by the Catholic priest.  The furious bareheaded & coatless men assembled under our windows & shouted aloud for Jeff Davis!

...Toward the evening the mob, furious as demons, went yelling over to the ColoredOrphan Asylum in 5th Avenue a little below where we live& rolling a barrel of kerosine in lit, the whole structure was soon in a blaze, & is now a smoking ruin.  What has become of the 300 poor innocent orphans I could not learn.  They must have had some warning of what the rioters intended; & I trust the children were removed in time to escape a cruel death.  Before this fire was extinguished, or rather burned out, for the wicked wretches who caused it would not permit the engines to be used, the northern sky was brilliantly illuminated, probably by the burning of the Aged Coloredwoman's Home in 65th St.or the Harlem R. Road Bridgeboth of which places were threatened by the rioters...

A friend who rode with me had seen a poor Negro hung an hour or two before.  The man had, in a frenzy, shoot an Irish fireman, and they immediately strung up the unhappy African...  The worst mobs are on the 1st & 2nd and 7th Avenues..  Many have been killed.  They are very hostile to the Negroes, & and scarcely one of them is to be seen.  A person who called at our house this afternoon saw three of them hanging together...

Thieves are going about in gangs, calling at houses, & demanding money-threatening the torch if denied... A friend (Mr. Gibbons) who visits us almost every week, & is known to be an abolitionist, had his house smashed up yesterday...

Ever yours,

John Torrey

Source:  John Bracey and others, The AfroAmericans:  Selected Documents, (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1972), pp. 230233.


As the preceding vignettes on the New York Draft Riot indicates, not all Northerners embraced the idea that they were fighting to liberate the slaves.  The following account by historian Leon Litwack describes the attitudes of some Northern soldiers toward the blacks they encountered in the South.

The typical Yankee was at best a reluctant liberator, and the attitudes and behavior he evinced did not always encourage the slaves to think of themselves as free men and women.  Although Union propagandists and abolitionists might exult in how a war for the Union had been transformed into a crusade for freedom, many northern soldiers donned the crusader's armor with strong misgivings or outright disgust.  "I don't think enough of the Nigger to go and fight for them," an Ohio private wrote.  "I would rather fight them."  Few Northerners, after all, had chosen to wage this kind of war.  "Our government has broken faith with us," a Union deserter told his captors.  "We enlisted to fight for the Union, and not to liberate the G-d d-d niggers."  Rather than view emancipation as a way to end the war, some Yankee soldiers thought it would only prolong the conflict.  Now that the very survival of the southern labor system was at stake, not to mention the proper subordination of black people, the prospect of a negotiated peace seemed even more remote, and southern whites could be expected to fight with even greater intensity and conviction.

That most Union soldiers should have failed to share the abolitionist commitment is hardly surprising.  What mattered was how they manifested their feelings when they came into direct contact with the slaves.  The evidence suggests one of the more tragic chapters in the history of this generally brutalizing and demoralizing war.  The normal frustrations of military life and the usually sordid record of invading armies, when combined with long-held and deeply felt attitudes toward black people, were more than sufficient to turn some Union soldiers into the very "debils" the slaves had been warned by their masters to expect.  Not only did the invaders tend to view the Negro as a primary cause of the war but even more importantly as an inferior being with few if any legitimate human emotions-at least none that had to be considered with any degree of sensitivity.  Here, then, was a logical and convenient object on which disgruntled and war-weary Yankees could vent their frustrations and hatreds.  "As I was going along this afternoon," a young Massachusetts officer wrote from New Orleans, "a little black baby that could just walk got under my feet and it look so much like a big worm that I wanted to step on it and crush it, the nasty, greasy little vermin was the best that could be said of it."  And if anything, additional exposure to blacks appeared to strengthen rather than allay racial antipathies.  "My repugnance to them increases with the acquaintance," a New England officer remarked.  "Republican as I am, keep me clear of the darkey in any relation."  

To debauch black women, some Yankees apparently concluded, was to partake of a widely practiced and well-accepted southern pastime.  The evidence was to be seen everywhere.  Besides, Yankees tended to share the popular racist notion of black women as naturally promiscuous and dissolute.  "Singular, but true," a Massachusetts soldier and amateur phrenologist observed, "the heads of the women indicate great animal passions."  Although some Union officers made no secret of their slave concubines, sharing their quarters with them, a black soldier noted that they usually mingled with "deluded freedwomen" only under the cover of darkness, while they openly consorted with white women during the day.  The frequency with which common soldiers mixed with black women prompted some regimental commanders to order the ejection of such women from the camp because their presence had become "demoralizing."  "I won't be unfaithful to you with a Negro wench," a Pennsylvania soldier assured his wife, "though it is the case with many soldiers.  Yes, men who have wives at home get entangled with these black things."  Marriages between Yankees and blacks were rare, but when they did occur southern whites made the most of them.

Two of the Brownfields' former negroes have married Yankees--one, a light colored mustee, and property left her by some white men whose mistress she had been-she says she passed herself off for a Spaniard and Mercier Green violated the sanctity of Grace Church by performing the ceremony--the other, a man, went north and married a Jewess--the idea is too revolting.

Not surprisingly, Union soldiers often shared the outrage of local whites at such liaisons.  In November 1865, a black newspaper in Charleston reported that an Illinois soldier had been tarred and feathered by his own comrades for having married a black woman.  "He was probably a Southern man by birth and education," the newspaper said of the victim, "and Hoosiers and Suckers don't take readily to Southern habits."

Whatever the reputation of black women for promiscuity, sexual submissions frequently had to be obtained by force.  "While on picket guard I witnessed misdeeds that made me ashamed of America," a soldier wrote from South Carolina; he had recently observed a group of his comrades rape a nine-year-old black girl.  Not only did some Union soldiers sexually assault any woman they found in a slave cabin but they had no compunctions about committing the act in the presence of her family.  "The father and grandfather dared offer no resistance," two witnesses reported from Virginia.  In some such instances, the husband or children of the intended victim had to be forcibly restrained from coming to her assistance.  Beyond the exploitation of sexual assault, black women could be subjected to further brutality and sadism, as was most graphically illustrated in an incident involving some Connecticut soldiers stationed in Virginia.  After seizing two "niger wenches," they "turned them upon their heads, & put tobacco, chips, stocks, lighted cigars & and sand into their behinds."  Without explanation, some Union soldiers in Hanover County Virginia, stopped five young black women and cut their arms, legs, and backs with razors.  "Dis was new to us," one of the victims recalled, "cause Mr. Tinsley [her master] didn’t' ever beat or hurt us."  Most Union soldiers would have found these practices reprehensible.  But they occurred with sufficient frequency to induce a northern journalist in South Carolina to write that Union troops had engaged in "some of the vilest and meanest exhibitions of human depravity" he had ever witnessed.  If such incidents were rare, moreover, the racial ideology that encouraged them had widespread acceptance, even among those who deplored the excesses.

Source: Leon Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, (New York, 1979) pp. 127-128, 129-130.


J.B. Jones, a clerk in the Confederate War Department, kept a diary which in 1863 details the privations of the people of Richmond during the Civil War.  Her entry describes the rampant inflation which affected most Confederate cities by 1863.  The second account, an Georgia girl's entry in her journal following Sherman's March to the Sea, reflects the intense hatred the war generated between Southerners and Northerners.

February 11th.Some idea may be formed of the scarcity of food in this city from the fact that, while my youngest daughter was in the kitchen today, a young rat came out of its hole and seemed to beg for something to eat; she held out some bread, which it ate from her hand, and seemed grateful.  Several others soon appeared and were as tame as kittens.  Perhaps we shall have to eat them!

February 18One or two of the regiments of General Lee's army were in the city last night.  The men were pale and haggard.  They have but a quarter of a pound of meat per day.  But meat has been ordered from Atlanta.  I hope it is abundant there.  

All the necessaries of life in the city are still going up higher in price.  Butter, three dollars per pound; beef, one dollar; bacon, a dollar and a quarter; sausage meat, one dollar; and even liver is selling at fifty cents per pound.  

If all the words of hatred in every language under heaven were lumped together into one huge epithet of detestation, they could not tell how I hate Yankees...

Now that they have invaded our country and killed so many of our men and desecrated so many homes, I can't believe that when Christ said, 'Love your enemies,' He meant Yankees.  

Of course I don't want their souls to be lost, for that would be wicked, but as they are not being punished in this world, I don't see how else they are going to get their deserts.

Source: Richard Current, American History: A Survey, (New York: Knopf, 1961), pp. 397, 399.


General William T. Sherman's famous March Through Georgia introduced the Confederacy to the concept of "total war."  His military objective was not to destroy an opposing army as much as the South's morale and resolve to continue the war.  Here is a part of a letter from W.F. Saylor, a Union soldier from Wisconsin, describing the March.

                        In the field near Savannah Geo.

                                        Dec. 18th, 1864

My Dear Father:

At 10 a.m. Monday the 14th [Nov.] we started on the march towards Atlanta, having previously set fire to our comfortable winter quarters.  The main road was blocked up with teams so we were obliged to go round by an old ford road making us 5 miles extra travel... The whole army intended for this Campaign was now in and around the City and ready to start the next morning.  It comprised 73,000 Infantry, 5500 cavelry [sic], and 70 pieces of Artillery, making nearly 80,000 men under the command of Major. Gen. W.T. Sherman.

Tuesday morning Nov. 15th.  The Army moved out on four different roads.  The right wing towards Macon, the left wing towards Augusta.  A small force was left behind to burn the city [Atlanta] after the troops got out.  And they did their work well, burning everything but a few private dwellings and the Churches.  The proud city of Atlanta is now a heap of Ashes, without inhabitants or public communication.

Nov. 22 Left Camp at 10 a.m.  The Weather is now cold and cloudy, with a few flakes of snow.  We travel fast and get to Camp in Milledgeville the Capitol of Geo. at 5 p.m. having traveled 10 miles...  This is a very pretty place and contains some beautiful buildings.  The Legislature had been in session but on hearing of our approach they adjourned and fled in confusion... We burned the State Prison and arsenal and other public buildings and pillaged an plundered the town generally.  It was an awful looking place when we got through.

Nov 28...found ExGov. Johnston's house about 5 to 7 miles from the road we were on.  The Ex Gov of course had gone, but had left some of his old darkies.  The foragers got lots of stuff to eat here but not finding the usual amount of finery in the house they suspected that it was hid some where.  The Officer in charge persuaded an aged darkey by threatening to hang him (rather persuasive argument) to tell him where the stuff was.  The Ex Gov took up a bed of cabbages in his garden then dug holes and deposited his goods in boxes and barrels in said holes, and then set the cabbages out nicely again.  But it wouldn't work.  The boys unearthed the stuff.

Dec. 10th...You can form no idea of the amount of property destroyed by us on this raid.  All the Roads in the state are torn up and the whole tract of country over which we passed is little better than wilderness.  I can't...think of what the people that are left there are to live on.  We have all their Cattle, Horses, Mules, Sheep, Hogs, Sweet Potatoes and Molasses and nearly everything else.  We burnt all the Cotton we men which was millions of pounds...  A tornado 60 miles in width from Chattanooga to this place 290 miles could not have done half the damage we did.

Source: Stanley I Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 430432.


In the following account, Dolly Sumner Lunt, a native of Maine who married into a prominent Southern slaveholding family, describes in her wartime journal, Sherman’s March through Covington, Georgia.

November 19, 1864

Slept in my clothes last night, as I heard that the Yankees went to neighbor Montgomery's on Thursday night at one o’clock, searched his house, drank his wine, and took his money and valuables. As we were not disturbed, I walked after breakfast…up to Mr. Joe Perry's, my nearest neighbor, where the Yankees were yesterday. Saw Mrs. Laura [Perry) in the road surrounded by her children…looking for her husband…. Before we were done talking, up came Joe and Jim Perry from their hiding-place. Jim was very much excited. Happening to turn and look behind, as we stood there, I saw some blue-coats coming down the hill. Jim immediately raised his gun, swearing he should kill them anyhow.

“No, don't” said I, and ran home as fast as I could. I could hear them cry “Halt! Halt!” and their guns went off in quick succession. Oh God, the time of trial has come….

I hastened back to my frightened [slaves] and told them they had better hide, and then went back to the gate to claim protection and a guard. But like demons they [Sherman's troops] rushed in!... The thousand pounds of meat in my smokehouse is gone in a twinkling, my flour, my meat, my lard, butter, eggs…all gone. My

eighteen fat turkeys, hens, chickens…are shot down in my yard and hunted as if they were rebels themselves. Utterly powerless I ran out and appealed to the guard.

“I cannot help you, Madam; it is orders.”

As I stood there, from my lot I saw driven, first, old Dutch, my dear old buggy horse… Then came old May, my brood mare, … with her three-year-old colt…. There they go! There go my mules, my sheep, and worse than all, my boys [younger slaves]…. Their parents are with me, and how sadly they lament the loss of their boys. Their cabins are rifled of every valuable…. Poor Frank's chest was broken open, his money and tobacco taken. He has always been a money-making and saving [slave], not infrequently has his crop brought him five hundred dollars and more….

Sherman himself and a greater portion of his army passed my house that day…. They tore down my garden palings, made a road through my backyard and lot field…desolating my home-wantonly doing it when there was no necessity for it….  As night drew its sable curtains around us, the heavens from every point were lit up with flames from burning buildings.

Source: Eyewitnesses and Others: Readings in American History (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1995), 1: 413-417.


In April 1865 units of the Union Army entered Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy and thus signaled the collapse of the rebellion.  Mrs. Burton Harrison, in this account from a letter to her relatives, describes the episode.

Grace Street, Richmond, April 4, 1865 

My Precious Mother and Brother:

I write you this jointly, because I can have no idea where Clarence is.  Can't you imagine with what a heavy heart I begin it?  The last two days have added long years to my life I have cried until no more tears will come, and my heart throbs to bursting night and day...All through the evening the air was full of farewells as if to the dead.  Hardly anybody went to bed.  We walked through the streets like lost spirits till nearly daybreak...With the din of the enemy's wagon trains, bands, trampling horses....and cannon ever in my ears, I can hardly write coherently.

...Looking down from the upper end of [Capitol Square] we saw a huge wall of fire blocking out the horizon.  In a few hours no trace was left of Main, Cary, and Canal Streets...except tottering walls and smoldering ruins.  The War Department was sending up jets of flame.  Along the middle of the streets smoldered a long pile...of papers torn from the different departments' archives of our beloved Government, from which soldiers in blue were picking out letters and documents that caught their fancy...General Lee's house had a [Union] guard camped in the front yard.

We went on to the headquarters of the Yankee General in charge of Richmond, that day of doom, and I must say were treated with perfect courtesy and consideration.  We saw many people we knew on the same errand as ourselves.  We heard stately Mrs.______ and the_____'s were there to ask for food, as their families were starving.  Thank God, we have not fallen to that!  Certainly, her face looked like a tragic mask carved out of stone.

A courteous young lieutenant was sent to pilot us out of the confusion...  Already the town wore the aspect of one in the Middle Ages smitten by pestilence.  The streets filled with smoke and flying fire were empty of the respectable class of inhabitants, the doors and shutters of every house tight closed...

The ending of the first day of occupation was truly horrible.  Some negroes of the lowest grade, their heads turned by the prospect of wealth and equality, together with a mob of miserable poor whites, drank themselves mad with liquor scooped from the gutters.  Reinforced, it was said, by convicts escaped from the penitentiary, they tore through the streets, carrying loot from the burnt district.   For some days after, the kitchen and cabins of the better class of darkies displayed handsome oil paintings and mirrors, rare books and barrels of sugar and whiskey...  Thanks to our trim Yankee guard in the basement, we felt safe enough, but the experience was not pleasant.

Through all of this strain of anguish ran like a gleam of gold the mad vain hope that Lee would yet make a stand somewherethat Lee's dear soldiers would give us back our liberty.

Source: Stanley I Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 438441.


J. J. Hill, orderly for Col. W. B. Wooster, commander of the 29th Connecticut Colored Infantry Regiment, describes the capture of the Confederate capital in April 1865, and the brief visit there by President Abraham Lincoln in his book A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops.  Part of the description is reprinted below.

All was quiet here until the 1st of April, when all was in readiness, and the order was given to strike tents and move on to Richmond.  During Sunday night the brigade was out in line of battle, and at three o'clock in the morning the rebels blew up three gun boats and commenced vacating their works in our front.  At 5 A.M the troops commenced to advance on the rebel works--the 29th taking the advance, the 9th U.S.C.[olored] troops next.  Soon refugees from the rebels came in by hundreds.  Col. W. B. Wooster passed them about, and made them go before the regiment and dig up the torpedoes that were left in the ground to prevent the progress of the Union Army.  They were very numerous, but to the surprise of officers and men, none of the army were injured by them.  

On our march to Richmond, we captured 500 pieces of artillery, some of the largest kind, 6,000 small arms, and the prisoners I was not able to number.  The road was strewed with all kinds of obstacles, and men were lying all along the distance of seven miles.  The main body of the army went up the New Market road.  The 29th skirmished all the way, and arrived in the city at 7 A.M., and were the first infantry that entered the city; they went at double quick most of the way.  When Col. Wooster came to Main St. he pointed his sword at the capitol, and said "Double quick, march," and the company charged through the main street to the capitol and halted in the square until the rest of the regiment came up.  

Very soon after the arrival of the white troops the colored troops were moved on the outskirts of the city, and as fast as the white troops came in the colored troops were ordered out, until we occupied the advance.  The white troops remained in the city as guards.  We remained on the outpost.

[On April] 3d President Lincoln visited the city.  No triumphal march of a conqueror could have equalled in moral sublimity the humble manner in which he entered Richmond.  I was standing on the bank of the James river viewing the scene of desolation when a boat, pulled by twelve sailors, came up the stream.  It contained President Lincoln and his son... In some way the colored people on the bank of the river ascertained that the tall man wearing the black hat was President Lincoln.  There was a sudden shout and clapping of hands.  I was very much amused at the plight of one officer who had in charge fifty colored men to put to work on the ruined buildings; he found himself alone, for they left work and crowded to see the President.  As he approached I said to a woman, "Madam, there is the man that made you free."  She exclaimed, "Is that President Lincoln?"  My reply was in the affirmative.

She gazed at him with clasped hands and said, "Glory to God.  Give Him praise for his goodness," and she shouted till her voice failed her.

Source:  J. J. Hill, A Sketch of the 29th Regiment of Connecticut Colored Troops, (Baltimore, 1867), pp. 25-27.


Felix Haywood, born a slave in Raleigh, North Carolina, gained his freedom in San Antonio, Texas, in the summer of 1865 when word finally reached Texas. In this interview Haywood recalls the day of emancipation. 

Soldiers, all of a sudden, was everywhere--coming in bunches, crossing and walking and riding.  Everyone was a-singing.  We was all walking on golden clouds. Hallelujah!

Union forever

   Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

Although I may be poor,

   I'll never be a slave

Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

Everybody went wild.  We felt like heroes, and nobody had made us that way but ourselves.  We was free.  Just like that, we was free.  It didn't seem to make the whites mad, either.  They went right on giving us food just the same.  Nobody took our homes away, but right off colored folks started on the move.  They seemed to want to get closer to freedom, so they'd know what it waslike it was a place or a city.  Me and my father stuck, close as a lean tick to a sick kitten.  The Gudlows started us out on a ranch.  My father, he'd round up cattleunbranded cattlefor the whites.  They was cattle that they belonged to, all right; they had gone to find water 'long the San Antonio River and the Guadalupe.  Then the whites gave me and my father some cattle for our own.  My father had his own brand  7 B)and we had a herd to start out with of seventy.

We knowed freedom was on us, but we didn't know what was to come with it.  We thought we was going to get rich like the white folks.  We thought we was going to be richer than the white folks, 'cause we was stronger and knowed how to work, and the whites didn't, and they didn't have us to work for them any more.  But it didn't turn out that way.  We soon found out that freedom could make folks proud, but it didn't make 'em rich.

Did you ever stop to think that thinking don't do any good when you do it too late?  Well, that's how it was with us.  If every mother's son of a black had thrown 'way his hoe and took up a gun to fight for his own freedom along with the Yankees, the war'd been over before it began.  But we didn't do it.  We couldn't help stick to our masters.  We couldn't no more shot 'em than we could fly.  My father and me used to talk 'bout it.  We decided we was too soft and freedom wasn't going to be much to our good even if we had a education.

Source:  Robert D. Marcus and David Burner, America Firsthand:  From Reconstruction to the Present (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), p. 11. 


In a brief article for the Eugene Register Guard I described the origins of the Juneteenth holiday.  Part of that article is reprinted below.

Freedom came in many guises to the four million African Americans who had been enslaved at the beginning of the Civil War.  Some fortunate black women and men were emancipated as early as 1861 onward when Union forces captured outlying areas of the Confederacy such as the Sea Islands of South Carolina, the Tidewater area of Virginia (Hampton and Norfolk) or New Orleans all before January 1863.  Other black slaves emancipated themselves by exploiting the disruption of war to run away to freedom, which in some instances was as close as the nearest Union Army camp.  President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation liberated all blacks residing in territory captured from the Confederates after January 1, 1863.  These slaves did not have to run for their freedom, they merely had to wait for Federal troops to arrive.  

Emancipation for the majority of African Americans, however, came only in 1865 when Confederate commander Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Federal Appomattox Court House in Virginia.   With that surrender the....rebellion was over.  News of Lee's surrender spread quickly through the former slave states east of the Mississippi River.  Texas, however was another matter.  Isolated from both Union and Confederate forces, Texas during the Civil War, had become a place of refuge for slaveholders seeking to insure that their "property" would not hear of freedom.  Through April, May, and part of June, 1865, they did not.  Finally on June 19, 1865, freedom officially arrived when Federal troops landed at Galveston, Texas.  Word of emancipation gradually spread over the state despite the efforts of some slaveholders to maintain slavery.  

But African Americans would not be denied the liberty that had eluded them so long.  When the news came entire plantations were deserted.  Many blacks brought from Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri during the War, returned home while Texas freedpersons headed for Galveston, Houston and other cities where Federal troops were stationed.  Although news of emancipation came at different times during that Texas summer of 1865, local blacks gradually settled on June 19 (Juneteenth) as their day of celebration.  Beginning in 1866 they held parades, picnics, barbecues, and gave speeches in remembrance of their liberation.  By 1900 the festivities had grown to include baseball games, horse races, railroad excursions, and formal balls.  By that time Juneteenth had officially become Texas Emancipation Day and was sponsored by black churches and civic organizations.  Indeed, Juneteenth had become so respectable that white politicians including various Texas governors addressed the largest gatherings (which sometimes included upwards of 5,000 people) in Houston and Dallas.  Juneteenth had surpassed the Fourth of July as the biggest holiday of the year for Texas African Americans.

With the migration of African Americans from Texas to the West Coast particularly during World War II, Juneteenth simultaneously declined in Texas and grew in the emerging black communities of Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and San Diego.  And some communities east of Texas such as Washington, D.C., and Birmingham, Alabama, began celebrations as well.  But by the 1970s many blacks, including those in Texas, had forgotten the holiday's origins and its significance in African American history....

Source: Quintard Taylor, "The Juneteenth Celebration, 1865-1992," Eugene Register-Guard, June 8, 1992, pp. 1D, 4D.


Previously Edward Barnell Heyward, the South Carolina planter wrote his Northern friend, James A. Lord explaining why the South would declare its independence and offering reasons for its success if the Northern states attempted to block the secession.  In 1866 Heyward again wrote his friend but now historical events mandated a far different letter.

22 Jan y 1866

My dear Jim

Your letter of date July 1865, has just reached me and you will be relieved by my answer, to find, that I am still alive, and extremely glad to hear from you.

I have...thought that you had been among those who had joined the Army, and had given your life, for the cause, in which your nation seems to much pride itself, at this time; but I do not suppose so by your letter.

I am quite well, & have my family around me.  During the war, I found time to get married again, and now have a most lovely woman, & baby eighteen months old at my elbow.  My daughter died during the war, and my Son is now a tall fellow who would astonish you by his size.

Our losses have been frightful, and we have, now, scarcely a support.  My Father had five plantations on the coast, and all the buildings were burnt, and the negroes, now left to themselves, are roaming in a starving condition.  Our farm near Charleston was abandoned to the negroes, leaving provisions, mules & stock.  All is now lost, and the negroes, left to themselves, have made nothing, and seek a little food, about the city.  Our Residence in the city, was sacked, and all the valuable furniture stolen and the houses well riddled by shell & shot. Our handsome Residence in the country was burnt.  The Enemy passed over all our property on the coast in the march from Savannah to Charleston, the whole country, down there, is now a howling wilderness...  We live twenty miles from Columbia [the state capital].  Some of my relatives were there, during the occupation by Sherman, and suffered the terrible anxieties & losses of that dreadful event.

I served in the Army, my brother died in the Army, and every family has lost members.  No one can know how reduced we are, particularly the refined & educated.

My Father and I, owned near seven hundred negroes and they are all now wandering about like lost sheep, with no one to care for them...  They very naturally, poor things, think that freedom means doing nothing, and this they are determined to do.  They look to the government, to take care of them, and it will be many years, before this once productive country will be able to support itself.  The former kind treatment of the slaves, and their docile and generous temper, makes them now disposed to be quiet & obedient: but the determination of your Northern people to give them a place in the councils of the Country and make they the equal of the white man, will at last, bear its fruit, and we may then expect, them, to rise against the whites, and in the end, be exterminated themselves.

As soon as able, I shall quit the Country, and leave others to stand the storm... I feel now I have no country, I obey like a subject, but I cannot love such a government.  Perhaps the next letter, you get from me, will be from England.

Source: Stanley I Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 463465. 


In one of the earliest first hand reports of the post-Civil War South, the Scottish clergyman David Macrae, describes his tour of the region in 1867-1868.


I was struck with a remark made by a Southern gentleman in answer to the assertion that Jefferson Davis [the president of the Confederacy] had culpably continued the war for six months after all hope had been abandoned.

“Sir,” he said, “Mr. Davis knew the temper of the South as well as any man in it. He knew if there was to be anything worth calling peace, the South must win; or, if she couldn't win, she wanted to be whipped, well whipped, thoroughly whipped.”

The further south I went, the oftener these remarks came back upon me. Evidence was everywhere that the South had maintained the desperate conflict until she was utterly exhausted…. Almost every man I met at the South, especially in North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, seemed to have been in the army; and it was painful to find many who had returned were mutilated, maimed, or broken in health by exposure.  When I remarked this to a young Confederate officer in North Carolina, and said I was glad to see that he had escaped unhurt, he…pulled up one leg of his trousers, and showed me that he had an iron rod there to strengthen his limb, and enable him to walk without limping, half of his foot being off.  He showed me on the other leg a deep scar made by a fragment of a shell; and these were two of but seven wounds which had left their marks upon his body.  He said, “Try to find a North Carolina gentleman without a Yankee mark on him.”

Nearly three years had passed when I traveled through the country, and yet we have seen what traces the war had left in such cities as Richmond, Petersburg, and Columbia. The same spectacle met me at Charleston.  Churches and houses had been battered down by heavy shot and shell hurled into the city from Federal batteries at a distance of five miles…. Over the country districts the prostration was equally marked.  Along the track of Sherman's army especially, the devastation was fearful, farms laid waste, fences burned, bridges destroyed, houses left in ruins, plantations in many cases turned into wilderness again. 

The people had shared in the general wreck, and looked poverty-stricken, careworn, and dejected. Ladies who before the war had lived in affluence, with black servants round them to attend to their every wish, were….so utterly destitute that they did not know when they finished one meal where they were to find the next…. Men who had held commanding positions…were filling humble situations, struggling, many of them, to earn a bare subsistence…. I remember dining with three cultured Southern gentlemen…all living together in a plain little wooden house, such as they would formerly have provided for their [slaves].  Two of them were engaged in a railway office, the third was seeking a situation, frequently, in his vain search, passing the large blinded house where he had lived in luxurious ease before the war.

Source:  Allan Nevins, ed., America through British Eyes (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1968), 345-347.


Sometime before the Civil War Laura Spicer and her children were sold from their husband and father.  They wanted to reunite after emancipation but her husband had remarried.  The husband, who remains anonymous except to Laura, wrote a letter describing the pain of their separation and yet wishing Laura would find another husband to care for the family.  The letter is reprinted below.

I would much rather you would get married to some good man, for every time I gits a letter from you it tears me all to pieces.  The reason why I have not written you before, in a long time, is because your letters disturbed me so very much.  You know I love my children.  I treats them good as a Father can treat his children; and I do a good deal of it for you.  I am sorry to hear that Lewellyn, my poor little son, have had such bad health.  I would come and see you but I know you could not bear it.  I want to see and I don't want to see you.  I love you just as well as I did the last day I saw you, and it will not do for you and I to meet.  I am married, and my wife have two children, and if you and I meets it would make a very dissatisfied family.

Send me some of the children's hair in a separate paper with their names on the paper.  Will you please git married, as long as I am married.  My dear, you know the Lord knows both of our hearts.  You know it never was our wishes to be separated from each other, and it never was our fault. Oh, I can see you so plain, at any-time, I had rather anything to had happened to me most than ever to have been parted from you and the children.  As I am, I do not know which I love best, you or Anna.  If I was to die, today or tomorrow, I do not think I would die satisfied till you tell me you will try and marry some good, smart man that will take care of you and the children; and do it because you love me; and not because I think more of the wife I have got then I do of you.

The woman is not born that feels as near to me as you do.  You feel this day like myself.  Tell them they must remember they have a good father and one that cares for them and one that thinks about them every day-My very heart did ache when reading your very kind and interesting letter.  Laura I do not think I have change any at all since I saw you last.-I think of you and my children every day of my life.

Laura I do love you the same.  My love to you never have failed.  Laura, truly, I have got another wife, and I am very sorry, that I am.  You feels and seems to me as much like my dear loving wife, as you ever did Laura.  You know my treatment to a wife and you know how I am about my children.  You know I am one man that do love my children....

Source: Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1925 (New York, 1926) pp. 6-7.


In the account below historian Jacqueline Jones describes the attitudes of both Northerners and Southerners to what they described as the particular insolence of black women.

Defenders of the notion of early Victorian (white) womanhood could not help but be struck by black women who openly challenged conventional standards of female submissiveness.  Freedwomen were described as "growling," "impertinent," "impudent," "vulgar" persons who "spoke up bold as brass" and. with their "loud and boisterous talking," demanded fair treatment for "we people [left] way back."  In the process of ridiculing these women, northerners often indirectly revealed their ambivalent attitudes toward black men.  Apparently an aggressive woman existed outside the realm of "natural," male-female relationships; her own truculence must be counterbalanced by the weakness of her husband, brother, or father.  But ironically in such cases, male relatives were often perceived to be much more "reasonable" (that is, prone to accept the white man's point of view) than their vehement womenfolk.

For example, John De Forest [Freedman's Bureau officer] later recounted the respective reactions of an elderly couple who had used up in supplies any profit they might have earned from a full year's labor.  The man remained "puzzled, incredulous, stubborn," and insisted there must be some mistake.  His wife was not about to accept the situation so politely:  "trembling with indignant suspicion [she] looked on grimly or broke out in fits of passion... 'Don' you give down to it, Peter,' she exhorted.  'It ain't no how ris'ible that we should 'a' worked all the year and git nothing' to go upon.'" De Forest, who elsewhere complained of black "female loaferism" prevalent in the area, showed a curious lack of sympathy for this hardworking woman.  In other cases, Yankee planters, professed abolitionists, responded to the demands put forth by delegations of female field hands with contempt for their brashness.

Source:  Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow:  Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present, (New York, 1985), pp. 70-71.


On February 7, 1866, Frederick Douglass, George Downing and other black leaders met with President Andrew Johnson at the White House.  This, the first meeting between an American president and black political spokesmen, showed the wide disparity between the President's views on voting rights for the exslaves and those of the assembled black activists. Part of the exchange is reprinted below.

Mr. Fred. Douglass advanced and addressed the President, saying:

Mr. President, we are not here to enlighten you, sir, as to your 

duties as the Chief Magistrate of this Republic, but to show our respect, and to present in brief the claims of our race to your favorable consideration.  In the order of Divine Providence you are placed in a position where you have the power to save or destroy us, to bless or blast usI mean our whole race.  Your noble and humane predecessor placed in our hands the sword to assist in saving the nation, and we do hope that you, his able successor, will favorably regard the placing in our hands the ballot with which to save ourselves.

We shall submit no argument on that point.  The fact that we are the subjects of Government, and subject to taxation, subject to volunteer in the service of the country, subject to being drafted, subject to bear the burdens of the State, makes it not improper that should ask to share in the privileges of this condition.

I have no speech to make on this occasion.  I simply submit these observations as a limited expression of the views and feelings of the delegation with which I have come.

Response of the President:

In reply to some of your inquiries, not to make a speech about this thing, for it is always best to talk plainly and distinctly about such matters, I will say that if I have not given evidence in my course that I am a friend of humanity, and to that portion of it which constitutes the colored population, I can give no evidence here...  All that I possessed, life, liberty, and property, have been put up in connection with that question, when I had every inducement held out to take the other course... If I know myself, and the feelings of my own heart, they have been for the colored man...

I am free to say to you that I do not like to be arraigned by someone who can get up handsomelyrounded periods and deal in rhetoric, and talk about abstract ideas of liberty, who never perilled life, liberty, or property.  This kind of theoretical, hollow, unpractical friendship amounts to but very little.  While I say that I am a friend of the colored man, I do not want to adopt a policy [of voting rights for negroes] that I believe will end in a contest between the races, which if persisted in will result in the extermination of one or the other.  God forbid that I should be engaged in such a work!

Source: Leslie H. Fishel and Benjamin Quarles, The Negro American: A Documentary History, (Glenview, Ill., 1967), p. 135.


ARTICLE 13  Slavery Abolished

1)  Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2)  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

This amendment was proposed to the State Legislatures by the 37th Congress on February 1, 1865, and was ratified December 18, 1865. It was rejected by Delaware and Kentucky; was conditionally ratified by Alabama and Mississippi; and Texas took no action.  

ARTICLE 14  Citizenship Rights Not To Be Abridged

1)  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This amendment was proposed to the State Legislatures by the 39th Congress on June 16, 1866, and was ratified July 23, 1868.  The amendment was supported by 23 Northern states.  It was rejected by Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and 10 exConfederate states.  California took no action.  It was later ratified by the 10 exConfederate states.

ARTICLE 15  Equal Voting Rights 

1) The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2)  The Congress shall have power to enforce the provisions of this Article by appropriate legislation.

This amendment was proposed to the State Legislatures by the 40th Congress on February 27, 1869, and was ratified on March 30, 1870.  It was supported by 30 states; it was rejected by California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Oregon.  It was not acted on by Tennessee. New York rescinded its ratification on January 5, 1870.  New Jersey rejected the amendment in 1870, but ratified it in 1871.


In the following vignette historian Elizabeth McLagan describes the Oregon legislature's response to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution.

During the Civil War the [Oregon] legislature passed the last anti-black state laws, with the exception of the ban on intermarriage passed in 1866.  Between 1866 and 1872, the legislature was required to consider ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which gave citizenship to black people and the right to vote to black men.  It was clear, however, that these amendments were unpopular with most Oregonians....  The Oregon Statesman, in an editorial published [in 1865], predicted that giving the vote to blacks would have a revolutionary influence on society.... Full suffrage would result in a "war of the races," the editorial concluded.

If we make the African a citizen, we cannot deny the same right to the Indian or the Mongolian (the Chinese, Japanese and other Asians).  Then how long would we have peace and prosperity when four races separate, distinct and antagonistic should be at the polls and contend for the control of government?

The 1866 legislature, still controlled by the [Republicans] but with a strong minority of Democrats, considered and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, although the vote was close... The Democrats made two attempts to withdraw ratification but...these attempts failed.  

This legislature also passed another law prohibiting intermarriage.  It was directed not only against white/black marriages, but against anyone with "one-fourth or more Negro, Chinese or [Hawaiian] blood, or any person having more than one half Indian blood.  It passed with little debate the combined vote was 47 in favor, 8 opposed and 3 absent.  The penalty for disobeying the law was a prison sentence of not less than three months, or up to one year in jail.  Any person authorized to conduct marriages who broke the law by marrying two people illegally was subject to the same penalty, with an additional $1,000 fine.  This law was not repealed until 1951.

The legislator's reluctance to endorse the Fourteenth Amendment was the subject of debate in the local press as well.  In 1867, the Eugene Weekly Democratic Review printed a vicious attack on black people.

...gaping, bullet pated, thick lipped, wooly headed, animal-jawed crowd of niggers, the dregs of broken up plantations, idle and vicious blacks, released from wholesome restraints of task masters and overseers... Greasy, dirty, lousy, they drowsily look down upon the assembled wisdom of a dissevered Union.  Sleepily listen to legislators who have given them their freedom and now propose to invest them with the highest privileges of American citizenship.

Because of its rabid pro-South rhetoric, this paper had been suppressed during the Civil War.

In 1868, another attempt was made to repeal ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, declared to be ratified nationally only six weeks previously.  This time the repeal passed in both chambers by a combined vote of 39 to 27.  This session also recalled Oregon Senators George H. Williams and Henry W. Corbett, criticized for their support of Reconstruction.  Williams was also active in the campaign to impeach President Andrew Johnson, who had become the hero of the Democratic Party for his opposition to Reconstruction.  The legislature was not deluded into thinking that its actions would make any difference; the Oregonian predicted that if copies of the resolutions ever reached Congress they would probably be used to light someone's cigar...

The Fifteenth Amendment was proposed, ratified and declared in force by Congress between Oregon's 1868 and 1870 legislative sessions.... The legislative session of 1870...declared the Fifteenth Amendment was "an infringement on popular rights and a direct falsification of the pledges made to the state of Oregon by the federal government."  The Fifteenth Amendment was finally ratified by the centennial legislature of 1959.

Although Oregon refused to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment, a state Supreme Court decision rendered in 1870 affirmed the right of black men to vote.  The case involved the election of a county commissioner in Wasco County, and C.H. Yates and W.S. Ford, two black men who had voted... That same year the Oregonian, which five years earlier had opposed the Fifteen Amendment, ran an editorial which admitted:

There are but a few colored men in Oregon, and their political influence cannot be great.  But these here are, as a rule, quiet, industrious and intelligent citizens.  We cannot doubt they will exercise intelligently the franchise with which they are newly invested.

Resistance to accepting the black vote...was overcome not by a change in attitude, but because Oregonians realized that federal civil rights legislation had to be acknowledged, if not endorsed.  By 1870, change was inevitable, so Oregonians acquiesced.  Blacks were granted civil rights under the terms imposed by the federal government, without the endorsement of the state legislature.  Oregon's black population was small and posed little threat to the established order. The period of enacting racist legislation had ended, but it would be many years before the legislature would begin to take an interest in passing laws that would allow black people to enjoy equal rights as citizens of the state.

Source: Elizabeth McLagan, A Peculiar Paradise: A History of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940 (Portland, 1980), pp. 68-74.


In an 1870 editorial the Olympia (Washington Territory) Commercial Age

outlined its position on black voting by publishing a long letter on the subject from one of its local readers.  The paper's position is reprinted below.  The second vignette from the English-language Honolulu Friend indicates that the debate over black voting rights extended beyond the boundaries of the United States when in 1865 the newspaper urged that suffrage be granted to the newly freed slaves. 

Olympia: Although the Fifteenth Amendment does not particularly affect us in this Territory, as the colored folks have been voters among us for sometime already, yet it will be a matter of much importance in both Oregon and California.  The following from an exchange contains much truth and will prove of interest to many of our readers:

      "The number of colored men whose right to vote will be established by the Fifteenth Amendment is estimated at 850,000.  Of these 790,000 are in the South, 41,000 in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana; 7,500 in New England, and 8,500 in the remaining Western States.  These statistics we find in the [Baltimore] Sun, and assume that they are approximately accurate.  

These 850,000 black men may perhaps hold the balance of power between the two political parties in the next presidential election and for a long time to come.  If the Democratic party persists in its longtime inveterate hostility to the negro, some of the closelydivided states will in all probability be insured to the Republicans by the negro vote.  Among these states we may mention Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Ohio.  But will the Democratic party be so stupid as to drive these new voters en masse into the Republican fold?  We doubt it.  On the contrary, we expect to see that party making special efforts to win these votersenough of them, at least, to divide their strength.  But, if the Republicans are true to themselves and their principles, they will have a decided advantage over their opponents in this struggleat least, so far as the more intelligent of the negroes are concerned.  

The negroes know, of course, that they owe their enfranchisement to the Republican party, while they have every reason for regarding the other party with aversion and distrust.  But they cannot all be expected to take the highest view of their obligations as citizens; and many of them, will, no doubt, be ready to fall into the snares which unscrupulous Democrats will be sure to lay in their path.  The Republicans, moreover, are by no means all saints, nor all entirely exempt from the spirit of estate.  Mean men in this party, as in the other, will, no doubt, continue to behave shabbily toward the newmade voters, thus helping the Democrats to "divide that they may conquer."  It will be a happy day for the country when the people shall no more care to inquire whether a voter or a candidate for office is white or black than whether he is tall or short."

Honolulu: In glancing over the files of the American papers, the most prominent question of discussion appears to be the status of the negro.  Shall he, or shall he not be admitted to all the civil and political rights of the white inhabitants?  This is the question.  Of course there is a great difference of opinion upon the subject.  Such men as Chief Justice Chase, Senator Sumner, and a host of leading men of the Republican party, take the ground that the negro should now be permitted to vote and enjoy all the privileges of the white population.  

In our opinion these men occupy the only consistent and correct ground.  The negro has nobly fought for the country, and now not to allow him all the rights and privileges enjoyed by his fellow soldiers would be wrong.  A loyal negro, true to his country and the flag, is surely as good a citizen as a rebel, although he [the rebel] may have recently take the oath of allegiance. We hope Americans will start aright this time.  Give the colored man a fair start, and let him try for himself.  We believe most fully in the doctrine that all men should enjoy equal civil and political rights.  The tendency is towards that point in all lands.  Revolutions go not backward.

Sources: The (Olympia, Washington Territory) Commercial Age, March 26, 1870; The Honolulu Friend, reprinted in the San Francisco Elevator, October 13, 1865, p. 1.


Helena, Montana's African Americans, like their counterparts throughout the United States acclaimed the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  In 1870 they wrote the local newspaper, the Helena Daily Herald, announcing their celebration.  The vignette suggests that Reconstruction mean a new birth of freedom for African American outside the South as well as in the Reconstruction states.


We, the colored citizens of Helena, feeling desirous of showing our high appreciation of those God-like gifts granted to us by and through the passage of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and knowing, as we do, that those rights which have been withheld from us, are now submerged and numbered with the things of the past, now thank God, is written and heralded to the wide world that we are free men and citizens of the United States--shorn of all those stigmatizing qualifications which have made us beasts.  To-day, thank God, and the Congress of the United States, that we, the colored people of the United States, possess all those rights which God, in His infinite wisdom, conveyed and gave unto us.

Now, we, the citizens of Helena, in the Territory of Montana, in mass assembled, on the 14th of April, A.D. 1870, do, by these presents, declare our intentions of celebrating the ratification of the 15th Amendment, on this 15th day of April, by the firing of thirty-two guns, from the hill and to the south of the city.



J.R. JOHNSON, Secretary

Source: Helena Daily Herald, April 15, 1870.


Immediately after the Civil War exslaveholders generated a series of laws to regulate the behavior of the newly freed slaves.  While these codes recognized the end of slavery, most of these laws nevertheless created repressive conditions that were strikingly similar to slavery.  Reprinted below are some of the 1866 black codes for a Louisiana parish.

Sec. 1: Be it ordained by the police jury of the parish of St. Landry, That no negro shall be allowed to pass within the limits of said parish without special permit in writing from his employer.  Whoever shall violate this provision shall pay a fine of two dollars and fifty cents, or in default thereof shall be forced to work four days on the public road, or suffer corporal punishment as provided hereinafter.

Sec. 2: Every negro who shall be found absent from the residence of his employer after ten o'clock at night, without a written permit from his employer, shall pay a fine...

Sec. 3: No negro shall be permitted to rent or keep a house within said parish.  Any negro violating this provision shall be immediately ejected and compelled to find an employer... 

Sec. 4: Every negro is required to be in the regular service of some white person, or former owner, who shall be held responsible for the conduct of said negro.

Sec. 5: No public meetings or congregations of negroes shall be allowed within said parish after sunset, but such public meetings and congregations may be held between the hours of sunrise and sunset, by special permission in writing of the captain of patrol, within whose beat such meetings shall take place.  This prohibition, however, is not to prevent negroes from attending the usual church services, conducted by white ministers and priests...

Sec. 6: No negro shall be permitted to preach, exhort, or otherwise declaim to congregations of colored people, without a special permission in writing from the president of the police jury...

Sec. 7: No negro who is not in the military service shall be allowed to carry firearms, or any kind of weapons, within the parish without special written permission of his employers, approved and indorsed by the nearest and most convenient chief of patrol.

Sec. 8: No negro shall sell, barter, or exchange any articles of merchandise or traffic within said parish without the special written permission of his employer, specifying the article of sale, barter or traffic.

Sec. 9: Any negro found drunk, within the said parish shall pay a fine of five dollars, or in default thereof work five days on the public road, or suffer corporal punishment as hereinafter provided.

Source: Howard H. Quint, Milton Cantor and Dean Albertson, Main Problems in American History, (Chicago: The Dorsey Press, 1987) p. 910.


Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens was one of the leaders of the Radical Republicans in the Post Civil War Congress.  In 1867 Stevens makes an impassioned plea for black suffrage before the House of Representatives.

There are several good reasons for the passage of this bill [for reconstructing the South].  In the first place, it is just.  I am now confining my argument to Negro suffrage in the rebel states.  Have not loyal blacks quite as good a right to choose rulers and make laws as rebel whites?

In the second place, it is a necessity in order to protect the loyal white men in the seceded states.  The white Union men are in a great minority in each of those states.  With them the blacks would act in a body; and it is believed that in each of said states, except one, the two united would form a majority, control the states and protect themselves.  Now they are the victims of daily murder.  They must suffer constant persecution, or be exiled...

Another good reason is, it would insure the ascendancy of the Union [Republican] Party. "Do you avow the party purpose?" exclaims some horrorstricken demagogue.  I do.  For I believe, on my conscience, that on the continued ascendancy of that party depends the safety of this great nation. If impartial suffrage is excluded in the rebel states, then every one of them is sure to send a solid rebel representative delegation to Congress, and cast a solid rebel electoral vote.  They, with their kindred Copperheads of the North, would always elect the President and control Congress.  Whole Slavery sat upon her defiant throne, and insulted and intimidated the trembling North...  Now, you must divide them between loyalists, without regard to color, and disloyalists, or you will be the perpetual vassals of the freetrade, irritated, revengeful South.

For these, among other reasons, I am for Negro suffrage in every rebel state.  If it be just, it should not be denied; if it be necessary, it should be adopted; if it be a punishment to traitors, they deserve it.

Source: Thomas A. Bailey & David M. Kennedy, The American Spirit, Vol. II, Lexington, Mass: D. C. Heath and Company, 1984), pp. 457458.


Conservative State    Military Dist. Date of Readmission Government Reestablished
 July 24, 1866
October 4, 1869
June 22, 1868
November 10, 1869
June 25, 1868
January 2, 1877
June 25, 1868
January 2, 1877
North Carolina
June 25, 1868
November 3, 1870
South Carolina
June 25, 1868
November 28, 1876
      July 14, 1868
November 16, 1874
January 26, 1870
October 5, 1869
February 23, 1870
January 4, 1876
March 30, 1870
January 14, 1873
July 15, 1870
November 1, 1871

*Tennessee was readmitted to the Union before the other Ex‑Confederate  States were divided into military districts


State Black % of state population (1870) Black Legislators White Legislators Black % of Legislature 
South Carolina
North Carolina


James S. Pike, a Maine Republican and former abolitionist, toured South Carolina in 1873 and wrote a highly critical account of Reconstruction in that state.  Here is part of his description of the state legislature.

Yesterday, about 4 p.m., the assembled wisdom of the State....issued forth from the State House.  About threequarters of the crowd belonged to the African race.  They were of every hue, from the light octoroon to the deep black.  They were such a body of men as might pour our of a market house at random in any Southern state...

"My God, look at this!" was the unbidden ejaculation of a lowcountry planter, clad in homespun, as he leaned over the rail inside the House, gazing excitedly upon the body in session.  "This is the first time I have been here.  I thought I knew what we were doing when we consented to emancipation.  I knew the negro...but I never though it would come to this. Let me go."

In the place of this old aristocratic society stands the rude form of the most ignorant democracy that mankind ever saw, invested with the functions of government... It is barbarism overwhelming civilization by physical force.  It is the slave rioting in the halls of his master, and putting that master under his feet.

...The body is almost literally a Black Parliament, and it is the only one on the face of the earth which is representative of a white constituency and the professed exponent of an advanced type of modern civilization...The Speaker is black, the Clerk is black...the chairman of the Ways and Means is black, and the chaplain is coalblack.

One of the things that first strike a casual observer in this negro assembly is the fluency of debate...When an appropriation bill is up to raise money to catch and punish the Kuklux, they know exactly what it means.  So, too, with educational measures.  The free school comes right home to them... Sambo can talk on these topics and their endless ramifications, day in and day out.

The negro is imitative in the extreme.  He can copy like a parrot or a monkey...  He believes he can do any thing, and never loses a chance to try...  He is more vivacious than the white, and, being more volatile and goodnatured, he is correspondingly more irrepressible...  He answers completely to the description of a stupid speaker in Parliament, given by Lord Derby on one occasion.  It was said of him that he did not know what he was going to say when he got up; he did not know what he was saying while he was speaking, and he did not know what he had said when he sat down.

Will South Carolina be Africanized?  That depends.  The pickaninnies die off from want of care.  Some blacks are coming in from North Carolina and Virginia, but others are going off farther South.  The white young men who were growing into manhood did not seem inclined to leave their homes and migrate to foreign parts...  The old slaveholders still hold their lands. The negroes were poor and unable to buy, even if the landowners would sell.  The whites seem likely to hold their own while the blacks fall off.

Source: Richard N. Current and John A. Garraty, ed., Words that Made American History Since The Civil War, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965), pp. 5761. 


Until the 1970s most historians of Reconstruction assumed that black politicians made virtually no contribution to the post Civil War debates surrounding land redistribution and the public school system.  The historical record clearly shows otherwise.  In the following account from the Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina in 1868, we see the spirited discussion among black politicians over compulsory education.  Here is part of the debate.

MR. R. C. DE LARGE:  I am not well acquainted with all the clauses in the constitution of Massachusetts, and speak only from my historic knowledge of that people.  This section proposes to open these schools to all persons, irrespective of color, to open every seminary of learning to all.  Heartily do I endorse the object, but the manner in which it is to be enforced meets my most earnest disapproval.  I do not propose to enact in this report a section that may be used by our enemies to appeal to the worst passions of a class of people in this State.  The schools may be opened to all, under proper provisions in the Constitution, but to declare that parents "shall" send their children to them whether they are willing or not is, in my judgment, going to a step beyond the bounds of prudence.  Is there any logic or reason in inserting in the Constitution a provision which cannot be enforced?  What do we intend to give the legislature power to do?  In one breath you propose to protect minor children, and in the next to punish their parents by fine and imprisonment if they do not send their children to school.  For these reasons I am opposed to the section, and urge that the word "compulsory" shall be stricken out.

MR. A. J. RANSIER:  I am sorry to differ with my colleague from Charleston on this question.  I contend that in proportion to the education of the people so is their progress in civilization.  Believing this, I believe that the Committee have properly provided for the compulsory education of all the children in this State between the ages named in the section.

I recognize the importance of this measure.  there is a seeming objection to the word "compulsory," but I do not think it of grave importance.  My friend does not like it, because he says it is contrary to the spirit of republicanism.  To be free, however, is not to enjoy unlimited license, or my friend himself might desire to enslave again his fellow men.

Now I propose to support this section fully, and believe that the more it is considered in all its bearings upon the welfare of our people, the greater will be the desire that every parent shall, by some means, be compelled to educate his children and fit them for the responsibilities of life.  As to the particular mode of enforcing attendance at school, we leave that an open question.  At present we are only asserting the general principle, and the Legislature will provide for its application.

Upon the success of republicanism depends the progress which our people are destined to make.  If parents are disposed to clog this progress by neglecting the education of their children, for one, I will not aid and abet them.  Hence, this, in my opinion, is an exceedingly wise provision, and I am content to trust to the Legislature to carry out the measures to which it necessarily leads.

Vice and degradation go hand in hand with ignorance.  Civilization and enlightenment follow fast upon the footsteps of the schoolmaster; and if education must be enforced to secure these grand results, I say let the compulsory process go on.

MR. R. C. DE LARGE:  Can the gentleman demonstrate how the Legislature is to enforce the education of children without punishment of their parents by fine or imprisonment.

MR. A. J. RANSIER:  When that question arises in the Legislature, I hope we shall answer that question.  If there is any one thing to which we may attribute the sufferings endured by this people, it is the gross ignorance of the masses.  While we propose to avoid all difficulties which may be fraught with evil to the community, we shall, nevertheless, insist upon our right to provide for the exercise of the great moral agencies which education always brings to bear upon public opinion.  had there been such a provision as this in the Constitution of South Carolina heretofore, there is no doubt that many of the evils which at present exist would have been avoided, and the people would have been advanced to a higher stage of civilization and morals, and we would not have been called upon to mourn the loss of the flower of the youth of our country.  In conclusion, I favor this section as it stands.  I do not think it will militate against the cause of republicanism, but, on the contrary, be of benefit both to it and to the people whom we represent.  Feeling that everything depends on the education of the rising generation, I shall give this measure my vote, and use all my exertions to secure its adoption into this Constitution.

MR. B. F. RANDOLPH:  In favoring, as I do, compulsory attendance at school, I cannot for the life of me see in what manner republicanism is at stake.  It seems to have been the fashion on this floor to question a man's republicanism because he chooses to differ with others on general principles.  Now this is a question which does not concern republicanism at all.  It is simply a matter of justice which is due  to a people, and it might be just as consistently urged that it is contrary to republican principles to organize the militia, as to urge that this provision is anti-republican because it compels parents to see to the education of their children.

MR. B. O. DUNCAN:  Does the gentleman propose to educate children at the point of the bayonet, through the militia?

MR. B. F. RANDOLPH:  If necessary, we may call out the militia to enforce the law.  Now, the gentlemen on the other side have given no reasons why the word "compulsory" should be stricken out.

MR. R. C. DE LARGE:  Can you name any State where the provisions exists in its Constitution?

MR. B. F. RANDOLPH:  It exists in Massachusetts.

MR. R. C. DE LARGE:  That is not so.

MR. F. L. CARDOZO:  This system has been tested in Germany, and I defy the gentlemen from Charleston to deny the fact.  It has also been tested in several States of the Union, and I defy the gentleman to show that is has not been a success.  It becomes the duty of the opposition if they want this section stricken from the report, to show that where it has been applied it has failed to produce the result desired.


MR. J. J. WRIGHT:  Will you inform us what State in the Union compels parents to send their children to school?

MR. B. F. RANDOLPH:  The State of New Hampshire is one.  It may be asked what is the object of law?  It is not only for the purpose of restraining men from doing wrong, but for the protection of all citizens of a State, and the promotion of the general welfare.  Blackstone lays it down as one of the objects, the furthering, as far as it can consistently be done of the general welfare of the people.  It is one of the objects of law, as far as practicable, not to restrain wrong by punishing man for violating the right, but also one of its grand objects to build up civilization, and this is the grand object of this provision in the report of the Committee on Education.  It proposes to further civilization and I look upon it as one of the most important results which will follow the defeat of the rebel armies, the establishment among the people who have long been deprived of the privilege of education, a law which will compel parents to send their children to school.

Source: Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of South Carolina (Charleston, 1868), pp. 686-94, 705-08. Reprinted in Thomas R. Frazier, Afro-American History:  Primary Sources.(Chicago, 1988)pp. 138-142.


South Carolina Senator Benjamin R. Tillman participated in antiblack violence in the 1870s.  Years later, in a 1907 speech on the floor of Senate, he explained why the violence was necessary.

It was in 1876, thirty years ago, and the people of South Carolina had been living under Negro rule for eight years.  There was a condition bordering upon anarchy.  Misrule, robbery, and murder were holding high carnival...Life ceased to be worth having on the terms under which we were living, and in desperation we determined to take the government away from the Negroes.

We reorganized the Democratic Party [of South Carolina] with one plank, and only one plank, namely, that "this is a white man's country, and white men must govern it."  Under that banner we went to battle.

We had 8,000 Negro militia organized by carpetbaggers...  They used to drum up and down the roads with their fifes and their gleaming bayonets, equipped with new Springfield rifles and dressed in the regulation uniform.  It was lawful, I suppose, but these Negro soldiersor this Negro militia, for they were never soldiersgrowing more and more bold, let drop talk among themselves where the white children might hear...  This is what they said: "The President [Grant] is our friend. The North is with us.  We intend to kill all the white men, take the land, marry the white women, and then these white children will wait on us."

Clashes came.  The Negro militia grew unbearable and more and more insolent.  I am not speaking of what I have read; I am speaking of what I know, of what I saw.  There were two militia companies in my township and a regiment in my county.  We had clashes with these Negro militiamen.  The Hamburg riot was one clash, in which seven Negroes and one white man were killed.  A month later we had the Ellerton riot, in which no one ever knew how many Negroes were killed, but there were [at least] forty or fifty or a hundred.  It was a fight between barbarism and civilization, between the African and the Caucasian, for mastery.

It was then that "we shot them"; it was then that "we killed them"; it was then that "we stuffed ballot boxes."  After the [federal] troops came and told us, "You must stop this rioting," we had decided to take the government away from men so debased as were the Negro...

[President] Grant sent troops to maintain the carpetbag government in power and to protect the Negroes in the right to vote.  He merely obeyed the law...  Then it was that "we stuffed ballot boxes," because desperate diseases require desperate remedies, and having resolved to take the state away, we hesitated at nothing...

I want to say now that we have not shot any Negroes in South Carolina on account of politics since 1876.  We have not found it necessary.  Eighteen hundred and seventysix happened to be the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and the action of the white men of South Carolina in taking the state away from the Negroes we regard as a second declaration of independence by the Caucasian from African barbarism.

Source: Thomas A. Bailey & David M. Kennedy, The American Spirit, Vol. II, Lexington, Mass: D. C. Heath and Company, 1984), pp. 462463.

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