Exam preparation materials

Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-1877

Things to Know

1. Outbreak of the Civil War: pattern of secession after Lincoln’s election; relative strengths and weaknesses of the North and South at the outbreak of the war.

2. The Civil War, 1861-1865: military strategy and major battles; economic impact of the war on the North and South; response to war in Europe; Emancipation Proclamation — position of African-Americans during the war.

3. Reconstruction: Lincoln’s views on treatment of the South; difference between Congressional and Presidential Reconstruction; implementation of Reconstruction; status of former slaves; national politics and the end of Reconstruction.

Key Terms and Concepts

Fort Sumter

Jefferson Davis

Anaconda Plan

First Battle of Bull Run


U. S. Grant

Robert E. Lee

George McClellan

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson





Sherman’s March to the Sea




Mathew Brady

Morrill Land Grant Act

Pacific Railroad Act

National Bank Act

Wade-Davis Bill

John Wilkes Booth

Thirteenth-Fifteenth Amendments

Civil Rights Act of 1866

Andrew Johnson

Radical Republicans

contract labor system

Freedmen’s Bureau

Ku KIux Klan

Reconstruction Acts (1867)

Force Acts

tenant farms

election of 1876

Important Definitions

Black Codes: Passed by state legislatures in 1865-1866; granted former slaves right to marry, sue, testify in court, and hold property but with significant qualifications.

Border States: Slave states — Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri — that remained loyal to the Union; the secession of these states would have considerably strengthened the South.

Carpetbaggers: Derogatory term for Northern Republicans who were involved in Southern politics during Radical Reconstruction.

Compromise of 1877: Rutherford B. Hayes and other Republicans agreed that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the South, agreed to appoint a Southerner to the Cabinet, and pledged federal projects to the South in return for an end to Democratic opposition to official counting of the electoral votes for the disputed election of 1876.

Copperheads: Northern Democrats, also known as Peace Democrats, who opposed Lincoln's war policies and were concerned with the growth of presidential power. In the election of 1864, General George McClellan was nominated by the Democrats with their support.

Ex Parte Milligan (1866): Supreme Court decision involving presidential war powers; civilians could not be tried in military courts in wartime when the federal courts were functioning.

Presidential Reconstruction: Put forward by Andrew Johnson, it included repeal of ordinances of secession, repudiation of Confederate debts, and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. By the end of 1865, only Texas had failed to meet these terms.

Radical Reconstruction: Provided for dividing states into military districts with military commanders to oversee voter registration that included adult African-American males for state conventions; state conventions to draft constitutions that provided for suffrage for black men; state legislatures to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.

Scalawags: Term used to describe Southern white Republicans who had opposed secession.

sharecropping: Common form of farming for freed slaves in the South; received a small plot of land, seed, fertilizer, tools from the landlord who decided what and how much should be planted; landlord usually took half of the harvest.

“Ten-Percent Plan”: Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction (December 1863) provided that new state governments could be established in the South when ten percent of the qualified voters in 1860 took an oath of loyalty.

Readings on the Civil War and Reconstruction

Commager, Henry S., ed. The Blue and the Gray: The Story of the Civil War as Told by Participants (1950).

Cox, Lawanda. Lincoln and Black Freedom (1981).

Franklin. John Hope. Reconstruction After the Civil War (1961).

Litwack, Leon. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery (1980). McKitrick, Eric L. Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1963).

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988).

Randall, James G. and David Donald. The Civil War and Reconstruction (1969). Stampp, Kenneth. The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877 (1965).

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