American Civil War Timeline
|1775||Philadelphia Quakers organize America's first antislavery society.|
|1776–83||English colonies' War for Independence against Great Britain ends with the formation of the United States.|
|1788||The U.S. Constitution is ratified, providing legal protection to slaveowners.|
|1793||Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin, which will dramatically increase Southern cotton production.|
|1803||President Thomas Jefferson purchases the Louisiana Territory from France.|
(The entire section is 2577 words.)
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Words to Know
- people who worked to end slavery
- Black Codes:
- series of harsh laws passed by white legislators in Southern states during Reconstruction that discriminated against black people; the Black Codes returned black people to a condition very close to slavery
- the act of surrounding a harbor with ships in order to prevent other vessels from entering or exiting the harbor; also the act of ships or other military forces surrounding and isolating a city, region, or country
- Civil War:
- conflict that took place from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern states (Union) and the Southern seceded states (Confederacy); also known in the South as the War between the States and in the North as the War of the Rebellion
- an action in which an existing country establishes a new community or state in a foreign land
(The entire section is 634 words.)
People to Know
Robert Anderson (1805–1871): Union major who surrendered Fort Sumter to Confederates in April 1861
John Andrew (1818–1867): governor of Massachusetts, 1860–66; organized the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, the first black Northern unit in the Civil War
Pierre G. T. Beauregard (1818–1893): Confederate general who captured Fort Sumter in April 1861; also served at First Bull Run and Shiloh
John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865): American actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln
Braxton Bragg (1817–1876): Confederate general who led the Army of Mississippi and the Army of Tennessee; fought at Perryville, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga
James Buchanan (1791–1868): fifteenth president of the United States, 1857–61
Ambrose E. Burnside (1824–1881): Union general who commanded the Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg; also fought at First Bull Run, Antietam, and in Ulysses S. Grant's Wilderness campaign
John C. Calhoun (1782–1850): South Carolina politician; vice...
(The entire section is 848 words.)
Research and Activity Ideas
The following research and activity ideas are intended to offer suggestions for complementing social studies and history curricula, to trigger additional ideas for enhancing learning, and to suggest cross-disciplinary projects for library and classroom use.
Imagine yourself as a slave on the Underground Railroad. Keep a diary of your imaginary experiences as you make your way to the North. Create a map showing your progress each day.
Divide into two groups of at least four. Assign one group to defend the South's right to secede from the Union, emphasizing the philosophy of "states' rights." The other group, meanwhile, will argue against secession from the North's point of view.
Give an oral presentation to the class in which you deliver an actual speech given by a Civil War figure. Other options include reciting a Civil War poem or singing a Civil War song.
Create a three-dimensional panoramic scene from the Civil War era using any materials that you wish. Scenes can range from a specific event like the Battle of Mobile Bay or the Richmond Bread Riots to an everyday scene of the South (slaves toiling on a plantation) or the North (workers building a railroad or a busy harbor).
Divide the class into several groups. Give each group an assignment to deliver an oral presentation on one of the...
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Where to Learn More
The following list of resources focuses on material appropriate for middle school or high school students. Please note that the web site addresses were verified prior to publication, but are subject to change.
Anders, Curt. Hearts in Conflict: A One-Volume History of the Civil War. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group, 1994.
Anderson, Nancy Scott, and Dwight Anderson. The Generals—Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. New York: Knopf, 1988.
Aptheker, Herbert. Abolitionism: A Revolutionary Movement. Boston: Twayne, 1989.
Basler, Roy P., ed. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953.
Berlin, Ira, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland, eds. Freedom's Soldiers: The Black Military Experience in the Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass's Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.
Bradford, Ned, ed. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. New York: New American Library, 1984.
Buell, Thomas B. The Warrior Generals: Combat Leadership in the Civil War. New York:...
(The entire section is 1139 words.)