Unit Five: 1840-1877
Manifest Destiny is the belief
that Americans had the right, or even the duty, to expand westward across the
North American continent from the
•"MANIFEST DESTINY": "Manifest Destiny" was the term used, throughout the 1840s, to describe Americans’ belief that they were destined by God to spread their beliefs across the continent. This sense of duty created a sense of unity among the nation and stimulated westward expansion. The term itself was coined by John O’Sullivan in an 1845 magazine article. The concept justified westward expansion in all its forms and ramifications, including the Mexican War, the persecution of the Indians, and other such ethnocentric acts.
Was it Imperialism?: American annexation of territories such as Oregon are generally not considered imperialistic because these lands were obtained by negotiation between two equal powers and the people there were not opposed to joining the Union. However, lands gained by force, such as the Mexican cession, are considered imperialistic conquests.
Annexation of Texas, Joint Resolution under President Tyler: In 1843, Tyler started a campaign to annex Texas, and in 1844 he succeeded in sending a treaty to Congress for the annexation. This treaty was defeated in the Senate, but later, in early 1845, Congress passed a joint resolution to annex Texas because of the growing popularity of annexation.
Reoccupation of Texas: After Congress voted to annex Texas, the Mexican governmen began war preparations when Texans accepted annexation. In response, Polk sent troops to occupy Texas and the disputed territory south of the Nueces River. Polk believed that the land was part of the Louisiana Purchase, and therefore it belonged to the United States.
Reannexation of Oregon: Prior to 1846, America and Great Britain had jointly occupied the Oregon Country. However, in 1844, Polk began to demand that America obtain the entire territory. In compromise, a treaty was signed in 1846 giving the United States all of Oregon south of the 49th parallel.
•ELECTION OF 1844: In the election of 1844, the Whigs nominated Henry Clay. The Democrats, however, were divided between Martin Van Buren and Lewis Cass. A deadlock at the Democratic national convention resulted in the nomination of dark-horse candidate James K. Polk. The Liberty party, consisting of a small group of northern antislavery Whigs who were alienated by Clay’s indecisiveness, nominated James G. Birney. Also, large numbers of Irish immigrants turned out to vote for Polk, and he won by a small margin.
•JAMES K. POLK: Polk was a slaveowning southerner dedicated to Democratic party. In 1844, he was a "dark horse" candidate for president, and he won the election. Polk favored American expansion, especially advocating the annexation of Texas, California, and Oregon. He was a friend and follower of Andrew Jackson. He opposed Clay’s American System, instead advocating lower tariff, separation the treasury and the federal government from the banking system. He was a nationalist who believed in Manifest Destiny.
54° 40’ or Fight!: In the election of 1844, Polk used "54° 40’ or Fight!" as a campaign slogan, implying that the he would declare war if Britain did not give the United States all the Oregon territory up to its northern boundary, the line 54° 40’ N. latitude. However, in 1846 Polk agreed to negotiate, and the two countries divided Oregon at the 49th parallel.
Slidell Mission to Mexico: Slidell was a negotiator sent to Mexico by James Polk with orders to gain Mexico’s recognition of the independence of Texas and to purchase California and New Mexico. However, he was not received by the Mexican government because the threat of military revolt left the Mexican president to weak to negotiate.
Rio Grande, Nueces River, Disputed Territory: A dispute over the southern boundary of Texas contributed to the Mexican War. Mexico claimed that the Nueces River was boundary of Texas, but Polk insisted that the Rio Grande River was the boundary line. The land between these two rivers was uninhabited, but it was a significant slice of Mexican territory.
•MEXICAN WAR: The Mexican war lasted from 1846 to 1848. The main cause of the war was American desire for territory, especially Texas and California. The war took place mainly on Mexican soil. Partially because of disorganization and instability in the Mexican government, the war resulted in and American victory. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the war, made the southern boundary of Texas the Rio Grande, gave California and New Mexico to the United States, and gave $15 million to Mexico in compensation.
General Zachary Taylor: Taylor was an American major general who became a war hero during the Mexican War. His troops won important victories in northern Mexico at Matamoros, Monterrey, and Buena Vista, and his resulting popularity helped him win the presidential election in 1848.
Battle of Buena Vista: The battle of Buena Vista was a battle during Mexican War. Five thousand American troops commanded by General Taylor defeated three times as many Mexican troops under Santa Anna. As a result of this battle, Taylor was put in control of all of northern Mexico. This American victory also hastened end of the War.
Stephen Kearney: Kearney was an American colonel in the Mexican War. In 1846, he led an army to Santa Fe and took the New Mexico territory without firing a shot. Kearny then suppressed a rebellion of both Indians and Mexicans, and managed to send a detachment of his army south into Mexico in time to join Taylor in the Battle of Buena Vista.
John C. Fremont: Fremont was an explorer, soldier, and politician known as "the Great Pathfinder." In 1846, he assisted in the annexation of California by capturing insurgents, seizing the city of Sonoma, and declaring the independence of the "Bear Flag Republic." In 1856, Fremont became the first presidential candidate for the Republican party.
Senator Thomas Hart Benton: Senator Benton was an American statesman. He represented Missouri in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. His daughter, Jessie Benton, married adventurer John C. Fremont, and Benton used his influence to have records of Fremont’s explorations published as government documents.
General Winfield Scott: General Scott commanded American troops during the Mexican War, and led those troops victory at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, and Chapultepec. He also led the final defeat of Santa Anna when he captured Mexico City in 1847. He ran for president of United States in 1852.
Nicholas Trist: Trist was the chief clerk of state department and a peace officer. He was sent to Mexico by Polk to negotiate with Mexican president Herrera. They wanted Trist to convince Herrera to lower the price he was asking for California and to give Americans the right of movement over the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1846, Herrera rejected the offer.
All Mexico Movement: Many Senators in Congress wanted the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to include all of Mexico, because they believed that to have control of all of Mexico would give the United States more power. However, this movement failed because the acquisition of California and her ports satisfied Polk.
•MEXICAN CESSION: The Mexican Cession was the land that Mexico ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo in 1848. This territory included California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The addition of so much land to the United States exacerbated conflict over the expansion of slavery because some Northerners feared that the extension of slavery into California and New Mexico would deter free laborers from settling there.
Webster-Ashburton Treaty: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty was a treaty negotiated by Lord Ashburton of Great Britain and Daniel Webster of the United States in 1842. It settled a dispute over the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick. The treaty was very popular in the North because the United States got more than half of the disputed territory.
Caroline Affair: The American steamboat, the Caroline, was being used by Canadian rebels when it was attacked by the government of Canada in late 1837 in American waters. In 1842 Daniel Webster asked for an apology from British government. The event heightened tensions between the United States and Britain, but this tension was soon eased.
Aroostook War: The Aroostook War was a boundary dispute between settlers in Maine and New Brunswick from 1838 to 1839. Full-scale war was avoided through an agreement in 1839, and the issue was settled by Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842.
•OREGON FEVER: During the 1830s and 1840s, many Americans traveled to the Oregon Territory in order to start a new life. The fertile farmland available in the Willamette Valley attracted many farmers. People in the East heard exaggerated, enthusiastic reports from missionaries and pioneers, convincing them that Oregon was a "pioneer’s paradise." Many settlers traveled to Oregon overland by way of the Oregon Trail or around Cape Horn in the newly invented clipper ships. This was an important part of westward expansion.
John Jacob Astor: Astor was a wealthy New York merchant who invested in real estate. He became involved in the fur business and organized a fur trading empire from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean and to China and Japan. He created the American Fur Company and established Astoria, the first major fur trading post in Oregon.
Oregon Trail: The Oregon Trail was an overland route to the Oregon territory, stretching almost 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette Valley. The pioneers who traveled this trail in wagon trains faced many dangers. It is estimated that about 11,500 emigrants used overland trails like the Oregon Trail to reach Oregon between 1840 and1848.
Willamette Valley: The Willamette Valley was an area of fertile farmland in the Oregon Territory which attracted large numbers of farmers in the 1830s and 1840s, especially those from the Mississippi River Valley. Reports of the abundance of this land sparked the movement of many pioneers to the West Coast.
Oregon Territory: Congress made the Oregon Territory an official territory of the United States in 1848. Prior to 1846, the Oregon Territory had been jointly occupied by Great Britain and the United States with its northern boundary the line 54°40’. In a 1846 treaty, the two countries split the territory, dividing it at the 49th parallel.
49th Parallel: The 49th parallel was the line of latitude dividing the United States’ and Great Britain’s portions of the Oregon Territory after 1846. Originally they had jointly occupied the entire territory, but a compromise was forged in 1846 because president Polk demanded title to this territory and neither side wanted to go to war over it.
Election of 1848: Cass, Taylor: Zachary Taylor was the Whig candidate in the election of 1848, and his platform was based solely on personal popularity because he was a war hero.; Lewis Cass was the Democratic candidate. Both parties avoided making the issue of slavery a campaign issue. Taylor won election on his popularity.
Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith was the founder of the Mormon church. He translated the Book of Mormon in 1827, after which, he and his followers set up a model city and temple in Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith saw himself as a prophet, increasing the negative sentiment towards Mormonism. After being charged with treason and jailed, he was killed by a mob in 1844.
Brigham Young: Brigham Young was the patriarch of the Mormon church who took control of the church after Joseph Smith was killed. After the Mormons were forced out of Illinois, Young led them to Utah in 1846, where they prospered. Young has been criticized for both his support of polygamy and his intolerance towards opposition.
Mormons: The Mormon religion was founded in 1827 by Joseph Smith. Their church is based in Utah and they believe that the Book of Mormon is the supplement for the Bible. The Mormons are characterized by their preference to be set apart from the rest of the community, apparent in their views, which were antebellum in the time the religion was born.
John Sutter: John Sutter was granted 49,000 acres of land by the Mexican government in 1834 and established a sawmill on the land in 1846. In 1848, he discovered gold. This discovery led to the onset of the California Gold Rush. Land squatters disputed over Sutter’s land claims and, subsequently, Sutter’s holdings were found invalid by the Supreme Court.
forty-niners: In 1849, 100,000 Americans, along with immigrants from Europe, Asia and South America rushed to California in search of easy riches. Competition led to violence and greed. As a result of inadequate shelter and food and the lack of medical supplies, 10,000 died the first year and few even benefited from the expedition.
Walker Tariff, 1846: The Walker tariff was created by Robert J. Walker, Polk’s secretary of the treasury, in 1846. The bill slashed all duties to the minimum necessary for revenue. It also reversed the trend of replacing certain specifics for ad value duties and dropped the minimum valuation principle. The tariff was signed July 30, 1846.
Independent Treasury System, Van Buren: The system was introduced by Martin Van Buren in 1837 and it passed through Congress in 1840. The bill had the federal government keep their revenue, and by doing this, kept public money from private business corporations. This also kept the government’s money out of state banks.
Independent Treasury System, Polk: After Van Buren was defeated in the election of 1840 by William Henry Harrison, the Independent Treasury System was repealed. However, when Polk was elected in 1844, he brought back the Independent Treasury System. This intensified the divisions between the Whigs and Democrats.
Expansion and Slavery
The expansion of slavery into new territories and onto the western frontier became a major issue after the Mexican-American War. Southerners fought to assert their rights while many Northerners wished to prevent the expansion of slave labor into new states.
panic of 1857: The causes of the panic were overspeculation in railroads and lands, false banking practices, and a break in the flow of European capital to American investments as a result of the Crimean War. The South’s less industrial economy suffered less than the North, who viewed this as a proof of superiority in both Southern economy and slavery.
Wilmot Proviso: David Wilmot, a Congressman from Pennsylvania, proposed that slavery be banned in land acquired from the Mexican War. The proviso was given to Congress in August 1846. It never passed the Senate, but passed the House. It was taken out of the War Appropriations bill in order for Senate to pass the actual bill.
Barnburners: The Barnburners were a part of the Democratic party in New York. They left in 1848 to form the Free Soil Party but rejoined after the election of 1848. They believed slavery should not be extended into the newly acquired U.S. territory and were pro-Wilmot Proviso. Their party slogan was "Free Trade, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men."
•TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO: This was the peace treaty between the United States and Mexico that ended the Mexican War. Through the treaty, Mexico gave Texas with Rio Grande boundary, California , and New Mexico to the United States. The U.S. assumed all claims of the American people against the Mexican government and also paid Mexico 15 million dollars. The treaty was signed on February 2, 1848. In the end, the treaty worked to expand the U.S. territory to include parts of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.
Free Soil Party: The Free Soil Party created by the Barnburners, Conscience Whigs, and the former Liberty party members in the election of 1844. They nominated Martin Van Buren on a platform of opposition to any kind of slavery. Although they were unable to carry any state, they had enough influence in North to convey their point.
California applies for admission as a state: Because the population grew during the gold rush and they were in need of a better government, California decided to petition to become a state in September of 1849. There was controversy on the issue of it being a free or slave state, but through the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted as a free state.
•COMPROMISE OF 1850: The Compromise of 1850 was an eight part compromise devised by Henry Clay in order to settle the land disputes between the North and South. As part of the compromise, California was admitted a free state, while a stricter Fugitive Slave Law was enforced. Slave trade was abolished in the District of Columbia, while slavery itself was not abolished and sectional peace returned to the northern and southern states for a few years. The issue of slavery eventually did lead to future conflicts, though.
Omnibus bill: The omnibus bill is a term used to describe a bill that has many unrelated and separate topics within it. The bill most commonly known for being omnibus is the Compromise of 1850. Henry Clay introduced the bill as a whole, but it was later pushed through Congress as separate measures. Today, most states do nor allow omnibus bills.
Henry Clay: Henry Clay was an influential American politician who earned the title of "The Great Pacificator" with his development of three compromises. He ran, unsuccessfully, for president six times and devised the "American System" that favored a protective tariff and federal support of internal improvements.
Webster’s 7th of March speech: Webster’s speech was an eloquent one presented in favor of the Compromise of 1850. Webster argued that years of tension built up from the North’s growing power would be relieved by the compromise and that the North would make the South its equal, thus saving the Union. Despite his efforts, the speech made few converts.
John C. Calhoun: Calhoun is most known for the "nullification crisis" in 1828 between he and president Jackson over the tariff of 1828 (tariff of abominations). He supported the Compromise of 1850 on the basis of the theory of nullification. He was a senator during the debates over the compromise. Calhoun was also a war hawk.
Fugitive Slave Law: Unlike the previous 1793 slave law, the 1850 slave law was more strictly enforced. The results of the law were that the North became a hunting ground for slaves and slaves were denied a trial by jury and other protections they were entitled to. The anger of the slaves led to riots and other acts of violence.
•PERSONAL LIBERTY LAWS: Discontent with the injustice of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, northern states passed "personal liberty laws" in order to strengthen the use of the habeas corpus writs and prohibit state officials from accepting jurisdiction under federal law. The laws included the prohibition of the use of state jails to confine alleged fugitives. Southern states objected to the laws because they violated sectional equity and reciprocal trust. Northern resistance demonstrated that the slavery issue could not be ignored.
Gadsden Purchase: The Gadsden Purchase was the 1853 treaty in which the United States bought from Mexico parts of what is now southern Arizona and southern New Mexico. Southerners wanted this land in order to build southern transcontinental railroad. The heated debate over this issue in the Senate demonstrates the prevalence of sectional disagreement.
Perry and Japan: Commodore Perry opened relations with Japan, a country closed to the rest of the world for 2 centuries, in 1853. The treaty he forged protected the rights of sailors shipwrecked in Japanese territory from inhumane treatment, permitted American ships to buy coal in Japan, opened Japanese ports of to U.S. commerce, and ended Japan’s isolation.
Anthony Burns: Burns was an American slave who escaped in 1834. He was arrested on charges of theft and violation of the Fugitive Slave Law. During the trial, a mob of Boston abolitionists stormed into the courthouse to attempt, unsuccessfully, to rescue Burns. President Pierce sent him back to his master, but Burns was resold to friends who freed him.
Ableman v. Booth: Booth was arrested for aiding the escape of a fugitive slave in 1859. The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a writ of habeas corpus to release him, but habeas corpus was not valid as a result of Chief Justice Taney’s decision that a court or judge has certain limits of power. In turn, the battle for federal supremacy commenced.
Prigg v. Pa., 1842: This case resulted when Pennsylvania attempted to ban the capture and return of runaway slaves within its territory, a challenge to the fugitive slave law of 1793. Because article IV, section 2 of the Constitution deems the return of fugitive slaves a federal power, the state law was declared unconstitutional.
Ostend Manifesto: American ambassadors to Great Britain, France, and Spain met in Ostend, Belgium in 1854 to issue an unofficial document that gave the United States permission to attain Cuba by any necessary means, even force, and include the island in the Union. President Pierce, however, rejected the manifesto.
Stephen A. Douglas: American politician known for his debates with Abraham Lincoln prior to the election of 1860. Douglas was an advocate of the annexation of Mexico, who aroused the question of slavery in territories with the development of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. He was also a strong supporter of the Compromise of 1850.
•KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT, 1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act ended the peace established between the North and South by the Compromise of 1850. It was proposed by Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and repealed the Missouri Compromise. The act enforced popular sovereignty upon the new territories but was opposed by Northern Democrats and Whigs. It was passed, however, because President Pierce supported it. The purpose of the bill was to facilitate the building of the transcontinental railroad on a central route.
popular sovereignty: this compromise solution was first proposed during the time of the Wilmot Proviso: the residents of each territory had the option of determining whether it would be a free or slave state; a part of the Compromise of 1850 and Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.Stephen Douglas a strong advocator.
36° 30’ line: The 36° 30’ line was established by the Missouri Compromise and drew on parts of California and New Mexico. The Wilmot Proviso sought to extend the boundary line westward, blocking slavery and territory north of that line. Polk supported the idea of expansion to end the discussion of whether the new territory acquired was slave or free.
"Bleeding Kansas" and Lawrence: Topeka and Lecompton were the two rival governments of Kansas. Each claimed to be the lawful one, thus armed themselves and commenced guerilla warfare. In 1856, Missouri "border ruffians," those who supported slavery, sacked the town of Lawrence. John Brown, an abolitionist, also led a retaliation two days later .
"Beecher’s Bibles": Because the abolitionist government in Kansas was organized in 1856, a pro-slavery posse armed with guns mobbed through the town. Ridiculing the free staters, they dubbed their guns "Beecher’s Bibles," following the advice of an antislavery minister that rifles would do no more than Bibles to enforce morality in Kansas.
Pottawatomie Massacre: John Brown led a small group of abolitionists into a pro-slavery settlement in 1856 to kill unarmed men and boys at Pottawatomie Creek in retaliation to the border ruffians’ invasion and sacking of the abolitionists’ town of Lawrence. The retaliation was preceded by a pro-slavery posse’s armed raid through Kansas.
Lecompton Constitution: This constitution was devised by the anti-slavery delegates of Congress in 1857 to protect the rights of the slaveholders in Kansas and advocate popular sovereignty. Buchanan disapproved of it, but supported it so that Kansas could be admitted as a state.
New England Emigrant Aid Company: Aiming to prevent the expansion of slavery into Kansas, Northerners sent antislavery settlers into this area in 1854, but their attempt was unsuccessful. Settlers from New England arrived slowly, though the majority of settlers originated from Missouri and the Midwest. Settlers were mixed in their views on slavery.
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 during Illinois senatorial campaign: The Lincoln-Douglas debates were a series of seven, where Douglas argued on the basis of his opposition to the Lecompton Constitution and depicted Lincoln as a radical abolitionist. Lincoln condemned Douglas for not taking a moral stand against slavery.
Lincoln’s "house divided" speech: The "house divided" speech was a speech presented before the Republican party’s state convention in 1858 in Springfield, Illinois. It warned the people that a "house divided against itself cannot stand," referring to the slavery issue. Lincoln predicted in his speech that there would mean eventual freedom for the slaves.
Freeport Doctrine: Stephen A. Douglas’ "Freeport Doctrine" stated that exclusion of slavery in a territory could be determined by the refusal of the voters to enact any laws that would protect slave property. In 1858, southerners rejected the doctrine because it did not insure the rights of slaves, a reaction that hurt him in the election.
The 1850s: The Road to Secession
During the 1850s, sectional issues such as slavery became very divisive. The issue of slaver polarized people, and Southern slaveowners felt that their rights and interests were no longer being fairly represented. Northerners began to increasingly support free soil and even abolition, so tensions between the two-sided mounted until Southerners became convinced that nothing short of secession could protect them Northern persecution.
Nashville Convention: Delegates of the northern and southern states assembled in the summer of 1850 to decide on the issue of the Compromise of 1850. Fire-eaters discussed southern rights, while suspicion of their secession rose amongst the northerners. The meeting itself led to the ultimate decision on the compromise.
fire-eaters: The fire-eaters were extreme advocates of southern rights. They walked out on the Nashville convention in 1850, raided a mass of Irish canal workers, and whipped and lynched slaves in the 1860s. They were labeled "fire-eaters" due to their recklessness and by making their presence strongly felt by all those around.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Harriet Stowe, a Northern abolitionist outraged by the Fugitive Slave Law, wrote this novel to illustrate the evils of slavery. Though the South denounced the novel, 500,000 copies were sold in the U.S. and others were translated into 20 languages. The novel stimulated Northern action against slavery, contributing to the Civil War.
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Stowe was an abolitionist writer who wrote powerful novels attacking slavery both before and after the Civil War in such novels as Dred, A Tale of Great Dismal Swamp (1856) and The Minister’s Wooing (1859). The novels are rambled in structure, yet rich in pathos and dramatic incident. She also wrote short stories and poetry.
election of 1852: The election of 1852 was the end of the Whig Party. Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act split the Whig Party, and the nomination of General Winfield Scott exacerbated the sectional split. The loss of votes from the South was the result of Scott’s campaign. Franklin Pierce of the Democratic party won the election with 27 of 31 states.
birth of the Republican Party: The party was formed in 1854 by northern Democrats who left the party because of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Former Whigs and Know-Nothings were party members, also. All opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and believed that slavery should be banned from all territories of the nation, except those states where slavery already existed.
election of 1856: Republican Party, Know-Nothing Party: This election was between John C. Fremont of the Republican Party, Millard Fillmore of the Know-Nothing Party, and James Buchanan of Democratic Party. Fillmore’s inexperience weakened his party, increasing the popularity of the Republicans. Buchanan won the election.
John Brown’s raid: The raid took place at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, and was conducted by an abolitionist to raid the federal arsenal and start a slave uprising. It failed and Brown was convicted of treason and hanged because he had ties with the northern abolitionists. At his death, southern fear of future slave uprisings increased, leading to the cruel treatment slaves.
Sumner-Brooks affair: Charles Sumner, a senator from Massachusetts, made a speech titled, "The Crime Against Kansas," denouncing slavery, and, at the same time, ridiculing the South Carolina senator, Charles Butler, in 1856. Preston Brooks, Butler’s nephew came into the Senate chamber and hit him on the head, making Brooks a hero in the South.
•DRED SCOTT DECISION: Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that Scott was not a citizen because he was a slave in 1856, therefore, he did not have the right to sue in federal court. It was determined that temporary residence in an area did not make one free, and that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional because it violated the fifth amendment, which did not allow Congress or territorial governments to exclude slavery from any area. Republicans became more suspicious of Slave Power in Congress.
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney: Taney was a Southerner appointed by Jackson as the 5th justice of the Supreme Court. He is well-known for handing down the Dred Scott decision. Under his leadership, the federal government had increased power over foreign relations. Taney ruled in 1861 that Lincoln exceeded his authority in suspending habeas corpus.
John Brown: John Brown was an American abolitionist who attempted to end slavery through the use of violence. This increased the tension between the North and South. He was the leader of John Brown’s raid and the Pottawatomie massacre. His life ended when he was hanged for murder and treason. He is regarded a martyr to the cause of human freedom.
Compact Theory of Government: This theory involves the idea that the United States of America was founded by the union of thirteen individual states creating a federation of states. This plays a major role in justifying the secession of the Southern states by stating that a state had the right to withdraw from the political entity it created.
•ELECTION OF 1860: candidates, parties, issues: A united republican party attempted to appeal more to the North in order to win the campaign and developed an economic program to amend the damages of the 1857 depression. They nominated Abraham Lincoln, who held a moderate view on slavery. The democrats nominated two candidates, Douglas and Breckenridge, each with opposing viewpoints on the slavery issue. The constitutional party, created by Whigs, nominated John Bell, who had the desire to preserve the Union.
Democratic Party conventions: The first assembly of delegates in Charleston in 1860 resulted in the split of the Democratic party as the Southern "fire-eaters" left the convention. They were unable to agree on a platform based on the protection of slavery. An unsuccessful second attempt to reach a consensus in Baltimore led them to nominate two candidates.
John Bell: Opposed to both Lincoln and Douglas, Whigs nominated Bell in 1860, an opposer of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Lecompton constitution. Bell created the new Constitutional Union party, which had a platform based on the preservation of the Union, and not on the controversial slavery issue.
John Breckenridge: A division in the Democratic Party led to the nomination of two candidates for the 1860 election. Breckenridge, Buchanan’s vice president, was nominated by secessionists on a platform based on protection of slavery in territories. His nomination completed the split of the Democratic party.
Republican Party of 1860: In order to lure votes from Northern states to their party, an economic system based on protective tariffs, federal aid for internal improvements and the distributing of 160-acre homesteads to settlers in order, was organized in favor of the Northerners. Lincoln’s nonchalant views towards slavery led them to victory.
Buchanan and the secession crisis: Buchanan declared secession of states illegal, yet he had no power to prevent it. He refused Southern demands to remove troops from Fort Sumter. Because his efforts to supply the fort failed and due to failure of a constitutional plan, he left the office disappointed and discredited.
Crittenden Compromise proposal: The compromise was proposed by John Crittenden in an attempt to preserve the Union. The amendments were to bar the federal government from intervening in southern states’ decision of slavery, to restore the Missouri Compromise, and to guarantee protection of slavery below this line. It also repealed personal liberty laws.
The Civil War
The Civil War was a terrible, bloody war fought mainly over the issue of slavery. It divided the nation and resulted in the death of more Americans than all other wars combined. The Union, with advantages such as greater organization and prosperity, eventually won, but not before 620,000 Americans died and thousands of fields, homes, and entire towns were destroyed.
secession: Slavery fueling the states’ rights issue along with the loss of Congress and Northern opposition to the new Fugitive Slave Law made the election of 1860 the straw that broke up the union. By March 1861, Lincoln’s innauguration South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had seceded.
•South’s advantages in the Civil War: The Confederate States of America had a strong advantage in the fact that they were fighting a defensive war in familiar territory, but it also had advantages buried deep within its much stronger military tradition. Southerners came from a rural rather than urban environments and therefore had more men experienced in the use of firearms and horses. This allowed the Confederacy to produce a more able corps of officers, such as Robert E. Lee.
Tredegar Iron Works: guided by Joseph Reid to success during a time when the economy in the North and South began to plunge because of their increased divergence. It became the nation’s fourth largest producer of iron products. During the Civil War the company contributed to the Confederacy cause.
•North’s advantages in the Civil War: The Union clearly had more military potential with its larger population of 22 million. In addition to that, the Union had more advantages in terms of material goods such as money and credit, factories for manufacturing war goods, food production, mineral resources, and an established railroad system to transport these material resources. The North in comparison with the South in these areas makes the North seem more advantageous.
Fort Sumter: Fort Sumter is a fort in Charleston harbor, South Carolina and it was the site of the first conflict of the Civil War on Apr. 12, 1861. The Confederates under Beauregard bombarded the fort and were eventually victorious, but the fort was eventually retaken by Union forces in 1865.
Bull Run: On July 16, General McDowell began to move on Confederate General Beauregard at Manassas Junction. McDowell attacked Beauregard’s soldiers, with aid from the forces of Johnston, near the bridge over Bull Run River and drove them to the Henry House Hill, but Jackson checked the advance and routed the raw Union troops.
Monitor and the Merrimac: March 8, 1862 was the date of first naval battle between ironclad ships. The Confederate ironclad frigate Merrimac had sunk the Cumberland and defeated the Congress in Hampton Roads but was forced to withdraw March 9 after an engagement with the Union’s ironclad Monitor, built by John Ericsson.
Lee: Commanding the Army of N. Virginia, he took the offensive in the 7 Days Battle and beat the Union army at the 2nd battle of Bull Run. Lee repulsed Union advances at the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and Grant’s assaults in the Wilderness Campaign. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomatox Courthouse.
Jackson: At the 1st battle of Bull Run Jackson earned his nick name when he and his brigade stood "like a stone wall." Serving under Lee, Jackson flanked the Union army to set up the Confederate victory at the second battle of Bull Run. At Chancellorsville Jackson again flanked the Union army but was mortally wounded by his own troops.
Grant: In 1862 he captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee, barely escaped defeat at the Battle of Shiloh and ended Confederate control of the Mississippi in Vicksburg. Commanding in the West, he thoroughly defeated Bragg at Chattanooga. He directed the Union army in the Wilderness Campaign and he received Lee’s surrender.
McClellan: He was criticized for overcaution in the unsuccessful Peninsular Campaign and removed from command. Called on again in 1862, he checked Lee in the Antietam Campaign, but he allowed the Confederates to withdraw across the Potomac and was again removed. He would run for president in 1864.
Sherman: He fought in the Vicksburg and Chatanooga campaigns and ge undertook the Atlanta Campaign. He burned Atlanta and set off, with a force of 60,000, on his famous march to the sea, devastating the country. After capturing Savannah, he turned north through S. Carolina, and received the surrender of General Johnston.
Meade: He made himself known in 1862 at Seven Days Battle and the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, and later at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He commanded of the Army of the Potomac from 1863, and won the battle of Gettysburg, but he was criticized for not following up his victory.
Vicksburg: It was a battle fought for control of the Mississippi River. By late 1862, the Union controlled all of the river except for the 200 miles south of Vicksburg. In May of 1863 U.S. Grant opened siege, and after 6 weeks the Confederates surrendered. Vicksburg’s fall completed the encirclement of the Confederacy.
Gettysburg: It was Lee’s second invasion of the North. Meade and Lee met just west of Gettysburg. First, the Union was pushed to Cemetery Hill. Then the South took the Peach Orchard but were repulsed. On July 3 Lee ordered George E. Pickett’s division forward in its infamous disastrous charge against the Union center.
Antietam: In September 1862, trying to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania, Lee sent Jackson to capture Harpers Ferry, but Lee’s own advance was halted by McClellan, who attacked him at Antietam Creek, Maryland., on September 17, the so-called bloodiest day of the war. It was a Union victory only in that Lee’s advance was stopped.
Appomattox: Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. The surrender at Appomattox virtually ended the Civil War, but the rest of the Confederate forces did not surrender until May 26 at Shreveport, Louisiana.
Jefferson Davis: He left Washington after the secession of Mississippi. As president of the Confederacy, he assumed strong centralized power, and weakened the states’ rights policy for which the South had seceded. He had many disputes with Confederate generals, and Lee surrendered without his approval.
Alexander Stephens: He was a U.S. congressman from Georgia and was opposed to secession but he remained loyal to Georgia when the state seceded. He was elected vice president of the Confederacy, and he was against many of the policies of President Davis. After the war he was interned for several months.
cotton versus wheat: Efforts by the Confederate government during the Civil War to convince planters to grow to wheat instead of cotton received little success. While some planters heeded the government’s pleas, many clung to the belief that cotton would never fail them. As a result, food shortages plagued the Confederacy.
Copperheads: Copperheads were Northerners who sympathized with the South during the Civil War. The term Copperheads was also used to label all Democratic opponents of Lincoln. The group was led by Clement L. Vallandigham and was especially strong in the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham: Vallandigham was the leader of the Copperheads during the Civil War. He was briefly imprisoned in 1863 for maintaining in a speech that the war was being fought to free African-American and enslave whites. The 1864 Democratic platform reflected his pro-Southern views.
suspension of habeas corpus: Writs of habeas corpus are court orders requiring that the a cause of imprisonment be demonstrated before a person is jailed. This basic civil liberty was suspended by both Lincoln and Davis during the war to deal with dissent. Lincoln used it to intimidate border states into rejecting secession.
Republican legislation passed in Congress after Southerners left: banking, tariff, homestead, railroad: After the South seceded, northerners in Congress enacted legislation such as the Pacific Railroad Act authorizing a transcontinental railroad and the Homestead Act granting free land in the west. Acts such as these had been blocked by southerners.
Homestead Laws: The Homestead laws were laws passed in Congress in 1862. They permitted almost any American citizen to acquire a homestead of up to 160 acres of land in the West, on the condition that the homesteader cultivate the land for 5 years. This allowed poor farmers to obtain land in the west and increased westward expansion.
Northern blockade: During the Civil War, the north attempted to establish a blockade of all Southern ports in order to stop the flow of essential supplies to the Confederacy. The Union navy was fairly weak, so at first the blockade was not as effective as northerners had hoped it would be and blockade-running was a common way for Southerners to obtain supplies
Anaconda Plan: The Anaconda Plan was a Union strategy in the Civil War calling for the establishment of a naval blockade around the Confederacy to prevent the importation of supplies from Europe. It was slowly implemented and only partially successful, but the blockade did contribute to the Northern victory.
Submarine: Four submersible vessels were built during the American Civil War by the Confederates for use against the federal fleet. One of these submarines successfully dragged a mine through the water to sink a northern ship, but sunk itself as well. Submarines were used only to a limited degree in the Civil War, and they were far from perfected.
Black Soldiers: It was not until late in the Civil War that African American soldiers were allowed to participate in combat, and when they were, they suffered a far higher mortality rate than white troops. Despite the many hardships that it entailed, military service was a source of pride for blacks because it symbolized their freedom.
Gatling Gun: The Gatling gun was one of the earliest machine guns, but it was the most effective of early models. The Gatling gun was created created a man by the name Gatling, who intended to make war so horrible that it would make peace. This weapon contributed to the high number of casualties in the Civil War.
Rifle: An improved rifle was one of the important technological advancements that transformed the Civil War. They were able to hit targets more accurately at large distances than previous guns, making open fields a hazard, so that trench warfare became a necessity. This also contributed to the high number of casualties during the war.
conscription, draft riots: The Federal Militia Act of 1862 and the Confederate Conscription Act of 1862 allowed for conscription, but contained many loopholes. Riots in 1863 by anti-conscription protesters and impeded the process of drafting soldiers, but the establishment of a draft prompted volunteering.
•Emancipation Proclamation: The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order ending slavery in the Confederacy. It was issued by President Lincoln after the battle of Antietam. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves residing in the territories in rebellion against the government of the United States. This proclamation had the dual purpose of injuring the Confederacy and preventing Great Britain from entering the war in support of the Confederacy. It also pushed the border states toward abolishing slavery.
Charles Francis Adams: Adams was an American diplomat who, as ambassador during the Civil War, helped to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy. In the Trent affair, he was instrumental in averting hostilities between the two nations, although he failed to stop the sailing of the Alabama, a raider built in Great Britain for the Confederacy.
Alabama claims: There were a series of claims for indemnity made by the United States upon Great Britain in 1862. The claims were for compensation for damages inflicted on Union property by a Confederate steamship built by the British, the Alabama. The claims were not resolved until the Treaty of Washington in 1871.
Trent Affair: In Nov., 1861, A Union captain stopped and boarded a British vessel, the Trent, and removed Mason and Slidell, two Confederate emissaries who were on board and he interned them in Boston. President Lincoln released Mason and Slidell, but the issue increased tension between the Union and Britain.
Laird rams: The Laird rams were two double-turreted, ironclad steamers, built by a company in England for the Confederate navy. The United States threatened war if these ships were released to the South, so the British purchased them for the royal navy. This was another source of diplomatic tension during the Civil War.
"continuous voyage": The concept of "continuous voyage" involves the idea that a voyage intended for an enemy port, regardless of the number of stops made before arrival in the port, contains contraband. During the Civil War the Union embraced this idea, seizing ships traveling from England to the West Indies with the final destination of Confederate ports.
election of 1864: In 1864, a number of Republicans sought to prevent Lincoln’s renomination. In order to balance Abraham Lincoln’s Union ticket with a Southern Democrat, the Republicans nominated Andrew Jackson for vice president. Lincoln was able to overcome Democratic candidate George McClellan and win a second term in office.
financing of the war effort by the North and the South: In order to pay for the Civil War, both the Confederate and Union governments were forced to sell public lands and tax. The fear that heavy taxation would cause unrest and corrode support of their cause, the governments issued bonds and, in the North, greenbacks. This led to high inflation.,
Clara Barton: Clara Barton, a Union nurse during the Civil War, was known as "the Angel of the Battlefield." She not only helped the war effort by nursing; she also helped the Union obtain medical supplies. After the War, Barton worked for the International Red Cross in the Franco-Prussian War, and organized the American Red Cross, which she headed until 1904.
Reconstruction was the process of bringing the southern states that had seceded during the Civil War back into the Union. There were many disagreements about the best way to accomplish this and many important pieces of legislation emerged as a result. Reconstruction lasted from the end of the Civil War in 1865 until the Tilden-Hays Compromise in 1877 restored the Democrats to power in the South.
•Lincoln’s ten percent plan: In it all southerners, except high-ranking Confederate officials, could get a full pardon and restoration of rights after taking an oath, pledging loyalty to the Union and accepting the end of slavery. When ten percent of the 1860 voting population had taken this oath, citizens could vote in elections that would create new state governments and new state constitutions. After that the state would once again be eligible for representation in Congress and readmitted to the Union.
assassination of April 14, 1865: President Lincoln wass assassinated while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, escaped with a broken leg, but he was shot later. Lincoln was succeeded by his vice president, Andrew Johnson.
John Wilkes Booth: Booth was a Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, who plotted with six fellow-conspirators to assassinate Union leaders. On Apr. 14, 1865, he shot President Lincoln during a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He escaped, but was later shot and killed.
Ex parte Milligan: Ex parte Milligan was an 1866 Supreme Court limiting the authority of martial law and the suspension of habeas corpus in times of war. In this case, the court declared that "martial law can never exist where the courts are open in the proper and unobstructed exercise of their jurisdiction."
•Radical Republicans: The Radical Republicans were a group of Republicans unhappy with the corruption and policies of Grant’s administration. Among their leaders were Carl Schurz, Horace Greely, and Charles Sumner. The party nominated Greeley for president. Greely was a choice acceptable to the Democrats, but unpopular with many of the leaders of his party, so Grant won reelection despite the corruption within his administration and his poor leadership.
Wade-Davis bill, veto, Wade Davis Manifesto: Congress, in July 1864, passed the Wade-Davis Bill, calling for a stricter form of Reconstruction than that proposed by Lincoln. After Lincoln pocket vetoed this bill, radicals sought to displace him. They issued Wade-Davis Manifest, which declared the primacy of Congress in matters of the Reconstruction.
Joint Committee on Reconstruction: The Joint Committee on Reconstruction was the Congressional committee consisting of leaders of both houses of Congress which led Congressional Reconstruction after the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 were passed. This committee would exist until after Hayes was elected president.
•Reconstruction acts, 1867: The Reconstruction Acts divided the Confederate states except Tennessee into five military districts. Military commanders in the districts were appointed to oversee constitutional conventions in the districts and the creation of state constitutions. This military occupation would last until the states created new constitutions that included black suffrage, the permanent disfranchisement of Confederate leaders, and ratification of the 14th Amendment.
conquered territory theory: The conquered territory theory was a popular theory held by many Reconstruction policy makers after the Civil War that the southern states which seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America should be treated as if they were territories conquered from a foreign nation.
Texas v. White, 1869: The trial of Texas v. White in 1868, was a case which involved the disposition of Civil War bonds used by Texas, which had left the Union. It was held that states in rebellion did not lose their existence or identity. The decision also declared secession unconstitutional.
the unreconstructed South: This term refers to failure of Reconstruction to permanently reform the South. Even after Republicans withdrew, there was corruption in the states, and exploitation of African-Americans was common. When the states were readmitted into the Union, civil rights legislation was practically overturned with open discrimination.
scalawags: A scalawag was a white Southerner who joined the Republican party during the Reconstruction period. Scalawags were considered traitors to the Southern cause and were condemned by Southern Democrats. The term scalawag was applied both to entrepreneurs who supported Republican economic policies and Whig planters who had opposed secession.
carpetbaggers: Carpetbaggers were Northerners who went to the South during Reconstruction. They carried their belongings in carpetbags, and most intended to settle in the South and make money there. The African-American vote won them important posts in Republican state governments.
"forty acres and a mule": "Forty acres and a mule" refers to the desire of Radical Republicans such as Thaddeus Stevens to carry out land redistribution in the South. He wanted to subdivide confiscated land and distribute it among the freedmen. Proposals such as these failed in Congress and state legislatures.
black codes: The black codes were local laws intended to force African-Americans to continue working as plantation laborers. They imposed prohibitive taxes, harsh vagrancy laws meant to intimidate the freedmen, restrictions on blacks’ ability to own property. Essentially, they condemned the newly-freed slaves to conditions not unlike slavery.
Ku Klux Klan: The KKK was an organization formed by ex-Confederates and led by Nathan B. Forrest. It was founded in the South in 1866 in opposition to Reconstruction. Members used disguises, rituals, whippings and lynchings, to terrorize African-Americans and their supporters. Forrest disbanded the Klan in 1869.
Thaddeus Stevens: As a leader of the radical Republicans’ Reconstruction program after the Civil War, Stevens saw the Southern states as "conquered provinces." He sincerely desired the betterment of the lives African-Americans. He proposed the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing civil rights and was a leader in the impeachment of President Johnson.
Charles Sumner: Sumner was the aggressive abolitionist who was physically assaulted by Preston Brooks after making a strong antislavery speech. He was one of the leaders of the radical Republicans’ Reconstruction program and was also an active participant in the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.
Andrew Johnson: As president he was denounced by the radical Republicans for his Reconstruction program. When Johnson tried to force Stanton out of office, the radical Republicans passed a resolution of impeachment against him for violation of the Tenure of Office Act, but the Senate failed to convict him by one vote.
Freedmen’s Bureau: The Freedmen’s Bureau furnished food and medical supplies to blacks, and to needy whites as well. It was also concerned with the regulation of wages and working conditions, the maintenance of schools for illiterate former slaves, and the distribution of lands abandoned by or confiscated from Southern proprietors.
General Oliver O. Howard: Howard was a Civil War general who took part in the Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga campaigns. As commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau after the war, he was unable to prevent many abuses to freedmen, but managed to provided needed food and medical and employment aid to many people.
Civil Rights Act: This act was passed in Congress with nearly unanimous Republican support in March 1866, and it attempted to redress the issue of slavery by defining all persons born in the nation as citizens. It also specified the rights of citizens, the right to sue, make contracts, give evidence in court, hold, convey, and inherit property.
Thirteenth Amendment: The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865. It prohibited "slavery or involuntary servitude except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." This amendment guaranteed freedom for African Americans.
Fourteenth Amendment: The Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868. It said that no state can make or enforce any law which "deprives any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Also, states could not "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Fifteenth Amendment: Secretary of State Hamilton Fish ratified the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of United States on March 30, 1870. This amendment explicitly forbid denial of the right to vote for citizens "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Tenure of Office Act: The Tenure of Office Act was a measure passed by Congress in 1867. It prohibited the president from dismissing any cabinet member or other federal officeholder whose appointment had required the consent of the Senate unless the Senate agreed to the dismissal. Johnson’s violation of this act caused the impeachment crisis.
•IMPEACHMENT: Impeachment is the formal accusation by a legislature against a public official, to remove him from office. The term includes both the bringing of charges, or articles, and the trial that may follow. President Andrew Johnson, after violating the Tenure of Office Act, by removing Secretary of War Stanton faced impeachment. The formal accusation of Johnson went through the House on Feb. 24, 1868, but the Senate failed to convict him. This is the only instance of impeachment of an American president.
Chief Justice Chase: Salmon Chase was the sixth chief justice of the Supreme Court and an abolitionist. As chief justice, he presided over the impeachment trial of President Johnson. His greatest achievement, however, was as secretary of the treasury, when he created a national bank system.
Secretary of War Stanton: Edwin Stanton served as the secretary of war under Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, but his dismissal by President Andrew Johnson and his subsequent refusal to leave office act precipitated the impeachment of President Johnson in 1868.
Hiram R. Revels, Blanche K. Bruce: Revels and Bruce were the first two African-American politicians to serve a full term in the United States Senate. They were both representatives from Mississippi, and were the only two African-American Senators during Reconstruction.
•Compromise of 1877: As a result of the electoral vote from the election of 1876, Congress created a 15-member bipartisan commission, on January 29, 1877, to resolve the dispute concerning the electoral votes between Tilden and Hayes. The committee consisted of five Democrats, five Republicans, and five Supreme Court justices. Hayes was unanimously awarded the electoral votes from Oregon and South Carolina and the ones from Louisiana by a commission vote of 8 to 7.
The Legacy of Reconstruction
Reconstruction changed the lives of southerners,, especially those of the many slaves who first tasted freedom during this period. Southern society changed in order to adjust to emancipation, but former slaves were still relegated to inferior and submissive positions through economic, political, and social restrictions of their rights. The social and political atmosphere of the postwar South would endure long into the 20th century.
Reconstruction Myth: The Reconstruction Myth is the false belief that during Reconstruction, Radical Republicans intended to exploit the South by forcing it into economic and political submission. Such beliefs were promoted by movies such as Birth of a Nation, and Gone With the Wind.
Solid South: After Reconstruction, the South became solidly Democratic. Once they gained control, the Democrats cut back expenses, wiped out social programs, lowered taxes, and limited the rights of tenants and sharecroppers. These white southerners remained a major force in national politics well into the 20th century.
sharecropping: It was the farm tenancy system that arose from the cotton plantation system after the Civil War. Landlords provided land, seed, and credit. The croppers contributed labor and received a share of the crop’s value, minus their debt to the landlord. This along with the crop lien system held back African Americans economically.
crop lien system: Through this system, the white southern landowners possessed a tight hold over African American farm production during much of the Reconstruction periond. Black economic rights were eroded away with this crop lien system and along with sharecropping. A cycle of dependency and debt would be the result of these systems.
segregation: Segregation was the practice held in the South after legislation made explicit discrimination in law illegal. In response to that legislation the concept of "separate but equal" dominated the policies Southern policy makers. This practice of keeping the races separate would not officially broken up until the mid-twentieth century.
Grantism and Postwar Politics
Ulysses S. Grant was elected president of the United States in 1868 because he was a war hero, but his cabinet was riddled with corruption. Grant did manage to make some important accomplishments in the area of foreign policy, but his ability to cope with domestic controversy, especially the economic issues which began to arise, created chaos in national politics.
Ulysses S. Grant: Grant was an American general and the 18th president of the United States. A war hero, Grant was admired throughout the North and was endorsed by Union veterans. Although he was a strong military leader, Grant proved to be a passive president with little skill at politics.
purchase of Alaska: Alaska was ceded to the United States by the Russian Czar Alexander II in a treaty signed on March 30, 1867. Secretary of State William Henry Seward arranged the $7.2 million purchase at 1.9˘ per acre. Critics ridiculed this purchase as "Seward’s icebox," but it expanded American territory at a reasonable price.
Secretary of State William Seward: Seward was the American Secretary of State who handled diplomatic issues during and after the Civil War. He was involved in the Trent Affair and his most notable act was the purchase of Alaska. This purchase was denounced at the time as "Seward’s folly, but it added a significant amount of territory to the United States.
Napoleon III: After his election in 1848, Napoleon III proclaimed himself the Emperor of France, instituted reforms, and rebuilt Paris. His successful imperialist ventures were overshadowed by a failed campaign in Mexico to create a French-Mexican Empire and the Franco-Prussian War, which resulted in his deposition.
Maximilian in Mexico: Maximilian was instructed by Napoleon III in 1864 to establish a French empire in Mexico, but the Mexicans were hostile to Maximilian and loyal to President Juárez. The United States invoked the Monroe Doctrine as justification for their demand for French nonintervention. Although the French drove Juárez’s army from the capital, Maximilian’s empire disintegrated when French troops withdrew.
Treaty of Washington, 1871: The Treaty of Washington was a treaty arranged by Hamilton Fish. In it, the U.S. and Great Britain settled many minor disputes such as the Alabama claims, which had arisen during the U.S. Civil War. The treaty also provided for arbitration of disagreements over the Canadian-American boundary and fishing rights.
Secretary of State Hamilton Fish: Fish served as Grant’s secretary of state. He arranged the Treaty of Washington, which settled disputes with Britain over the Alabama claims the and Canadian-American boundary. Also, he prevented American filibustering expeditions against Cuba from escalating into war with Spain.
"Whiskey Ring": Grant’s private secretary, Orville Babcock, was unmasked in 1875 after taking money from the "whiskey ring," a group of distillers who bribed federal agents to avoid paying millions in whiskey taxes. On May 10, 1875, 16 distillers in areas of Saint Louis, Milwaukee, and Chicago were captured.
Black Friday: Scandal caused a short-lived financial crisis in the United States that occurred on Friday, September 24, 1869. The panic was precipitated when two financial speculators, James Fisk and Jay Gould, attempted to corner the U.S. gold market. Fisk and Gould probably made a profit of about $11 million through their manipulations.
"Salary Grab Act": In the Salary Grab Act of 1873, Congress voted a 100% pay raise and a 50% increase for itself. Both raises were made retroactive two years back. The public was shocked, leading to a Democratic victory in the next congressional election. The act was later repealed, but it was another example of the corruption of the postwar government.
Credit Mobilier: Officials of the Union Pacific Railroad created a fake construction company, called the Credit Mobilier, in order to cheat the government out of money allotted to the construction of the Union Pacific Railroads. Grant’s vice-president, Colfax, was linked to this scandal.
Sanborn Grab Fraud: In the Sanborn Grab Fraud, a politician named Sanborn was given a contract collect $427,000 in unpaid taxes, receiving a 50% commission for all money collected. He then used this commission as Republican campaign funds, allowing the candidate to focus on his campaign rather than fundraising.
Bribing of Belknap: William E. Belknap was Grant’s secretary of war. He took a bribe to sell lucrative Indian trading posts in Oklahoma. Belknap resigned in 1876 when voters learned of his corruption. Although Grant was not personally involved, he loyally defended his subordinates.
Liberal Republicans: The Liberals Republicans’ revolt marked a turning point in Reconstruction history. They split the Republican party, supporting the Republican southern policy while attacking regular republicans on several key issues and denouncing Grantism and the spoils system.
election of 1872: In 1872, Republicans unhappy with the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant formed the Liberal Republican party and nominated as their candidate the journalist Horace Greeley. Although he was also endorsed by the Democrats, Greeley was defeated, and the new party collapsed.
Panic of 1873, depression: Transforming the northern economy, the Panic of 1873 triggered a five-year depression. Banks closed, farm prices plummeted, steel furnaces stood idle, and one out of four railroads failed. However, once the depression began, demand rose. This issue divided both major parties and was compounded by the repayment of federal debt.
"Waving the bloody shirt": During the election of 1876, the Republicans backed Rutherford Hayes against the Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden. They resorted to a tactic known as "waving the bloody shirt," which was used in the last two elections. The tactic emphasized wartime animosities by urging northern voters to vote the way they shot.
Greenbacks, Ohio Ideas: During the Civil War the Union had borrowed money through the sale of war bonds, known as Greenbacks, to private citizens. Senator John Sherman of Ohio and other Republican leaders obtained passage of the Public Credit Act of 1869, which promised to pay the war debt in "coin." Debtors favored the Greenbacks because they could repay debts easier with this inflated currency.
Specie Resumption Act: The Sherman Specie Resumption Act promised to put the nation effectively on the gold standard in 1879. With some convincing, it changed the minds of the Republican voters who also wanted to continue Greenbacks for the sake of "easy money." Grant signed this act. Unfortunately, robber barrons schemed to corner the gold market.
Greenback-Labor Party: The Greenback party was formed in 1876 with James Weaver as its presidential candidate. The party adopted the debtors’ cause, fought to keep greenbacks in circulation, and promoted the inflation of farm prices. The party elected 14 members to Congress . As prosperity returned, the Greenbacks faded.
election of 1876: The presidential election of 1876 resulted in neither Democrat Samuel Tilden nor Republican Rutherford Hayes receiving the 185 electoral votes necessary to become president. There were 20 disputed votes, and a Congressional committee gave all of these to Hays, making him president. In exchange, he ended military rule of the South.