Alcott, Louisa May
Born November 29, 1832
Died March 6, 1888
Writer and editor
"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
Louisa May Alcott is most famous as the author of Little Women (1868) and the seven novels that followed in the "Little Women" series. The novels are realistic and entertaining accounts of the March family, and show children developing as independent and thoughtful individuals, facing and learning from conflicts, and sharing a warm and loving family life. Alcott enjoyed widespread popularity in her lifetime as a children's author. Meanwhile, she was secretly successful as a magazine writer of sensational fiction about crime, revenge, and romance. Alcott was not revealed as the writer of those stories until more than fifty years after her death.
Keeping a journal...
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Anthony, Susan B.
Born February 15, 1820
Died March 13, 1906
Rochester, New York
Activist for women's rights, abolition of slavery, and temperance
"The true republic—men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less."
Susan B. Anthony was an early and longtime activist for women's rights and a leader of the American woman's suffrage (right to vote) movement. She spoke throughout the country, was arrested once for voting, helped start a magazine, contributed to the compilation of a multivolume history of the women's suffrage movement, and supported temperance (abstaining from alcohol) and the abolition of slavery through speeches and petitions. In honor of her tireless work and achievements, Anthony's image was chosen for a new dollar coin in 1979, making her the first woman to be depicted on U.S. currency.
Susan Brownell Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, one of seven...
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Bruce, Blanche K.
Born March 1, 1841
Died March 17, 1898
U.S. senator, educator, and farmer
"I have confidence, not only in my country and her institutions, but in the endurance, capacity and destiny of my people. We will, as opportunity offers and ability serves, seek our places.… Whatever our ultimate position in the composite civilization of the Republic and whatever varying fortunes attend our career, we will not forget our instincts for freedom nor our love for country."
Blanche K. Bruce was the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate. Prior to his political career, he founded a school in Hannibal, Missouri, and later helped establish a strong, countywide system of twenty-one schools in Mississippi. Bruce was also a successful farmer. Following his term in the Senate, Bruce was a chairperson of the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1880 and served in the administrations of presidents Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901; served 1889–93) and William McKinley (1843–1901;...
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Cardozo, Francis L.
Born February 1, 1837
Charleston, South Carolina
Died July 22, 1903
Minister, educator, and politician
"One of the greatest of slavery bulwarks was the infernal plantation system.… I maintain that our freedom will be of no effect if we allow it to continue. What is the main cause of the prosperity of the North? It is because every man has his own farm and is free and independent. Let the lands of the South be similarly divided."
Francis L. Cardozo served as an educator and politician in his native South Carolina and in Washington, D.C. His efforts in education resulted in two highly respected high schools: the Avery Institute in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. Cardozo was an effective elected official during the Reconstruction era in South Carolina, helping smooth the transition from an economy based on slavery to one that aimed to provide equal opportunity.
From carpenter to minister
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Born June 3, 1808
Died December 6, 1889
New Orleans, Louisiana
Robert E. Lee
Born January 19, 1807
Died October 13, 1870
Alexander H. Stephens
Born February 11, 1812
Died March 4, 1883
Robert A. Toombs
Born July 2, 1810
Died December 15, 1885
Secretary of state
"[I favor] the maintenance of the honor, the rights, the...
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Born August 10, 1821
Died February 16, 1905
Banker, investor, war bonds pioneer
"Newspapers and individuals got into the habit of gloomily deploring the [Civil War] and its ruinous expenditure. I offset this by quoting the fact that every dollar raised by the loans went right back into the hands of the people and was new and vigorous blood permeating all through the body of the nation."
Jay Cooke had a dramatic rise and fall during the Civil War (1861–65) and the Reconstruction era (1865–77). He used innovative methods to help the U.S. government finance (pay for) the Civil War, for which he became known as the "financier of the Union." During the Reconstruction era, Cooke invested heavily in railroads. When the national economy faltered in 1873, Cooke's financial empire of banks was wiped out; they had invested too heavily and could not pay back their depositors (people who saved money in the banks). In little over a decade, then, Cooke had gone from being America's...
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Born c. February 1817
Died February 20, 1895
Writer and activist
"Rebellion has been subdued, slavery abolished, and peace proclaimed, and yet our work is not done.… We are face to face with the same old enemy of liberty and progress."
Frederick Douglass was an eloquent spokesperson for abolition (the end of slavery) and equality. He persevered through an early life of slavery to become a celebrated speaker and writer. Relating his experiences as a victim of cruelty, Douglass maintained a strongly moral conviction in undoing the evil of slavery and establishing equality for people of both sexes and all races. He wrote celebrated autobiographical works, beginning with Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), and founded newspapers, including the North Star in 1847. The masthead of the North Star featured the motto, "Right is of no sex. Truth is of no color. God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren." During the Reconstruction era...
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Born July 25, 1844
Died June 25, 1916
"Respectability in art is appalling."
A traveling exhibit of the major paintings of Thomas Eakins in 2001 attracted large crowds and strong critical praise. It was far different for Eakins during his lifetime as an artist working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the Reconstruction era (1865–77) to the early twentieth century. He sold a little over two dozen paintings and his work received a mild amount of attention during his lifetime. In modern times, however, he is regarded as the classic American painter of the Realist style. "Eakins's art was a monumental achievement," wrote art critic Hilton Kramer in 2001. "He was the first major painter of his period to accept completely the realities of contemporary American life and to create out of them a strong and profound art."
Science and art
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was...
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Born September 14, 1837
Died April 21, 1911
Montclair, New Jersey
Illustrator and painter
"At home I was only a little chap who liked to amuse himself with paints. After the bishop [encouraged] me, I felt myself dedicated to the work of transcribing the beauties of the world."
Harry Fenn was one of the great illustrators of the nineteenth century. Before photography came into regular use by the end of the century, illustrators created images for books and periodicals. Fenn worked for many of the leading magazines and authors. In addition, he was the major contributor to the highly popular and critically acclaimed "Picturesque America" series that appeared in Appleton's Journal and in a book published in 1872. The series showcased the variety of natural wonders in the United States, from mountain scenes of the northeast to lush vegetation and wildlife along the rivers and swamps of Florida. The book proved so popular that Fenn was also commissioned as the main illustrator for Picturesque Europe (1876) and Picturesque Palestine, Sinai, and Egypt (1883).
Harry Fenn was born with the name Henry on September 14, 1837, in Richmond, outside of...
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Grant, Ulysses S.
Born April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio
Died July 23, 1885
Mount McGregor, New York
U.S. president, Civil War general
"The country having just emerged from a great rebellion, many questions will come before it for settlement in the next four years which preceding Administrations have never had to deal with. In meeting these it is desirable that they should be approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained."
Ulysses S. Grant was president for eight of the twelve years of the Reconstruction era (1865–77). The popular Civil War general hoped to help reunify North and South and accepted the Republican nomination for president in 1868 with the statement "Let us have peace," which became his campaign theme. As president, however, Grant became upset at how slow respect for the civil rights of African Americans came, and pursued aggressive action against Black Codes (laws intended to limit the rights of African Americans) and...
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Born February 3, 1811
Amherst, New Hampshire
Died November 29, 1872
New York, New York
Newspaper publisher and editor, writer, and presidential candidate
"I am weary of fighting over issues that ought to be dead—that logically were dead years ago. When slavery died, I thought that we ought speedily to have ended all that grew out of it by universal amnesty and impartial suffrage."
An influential newspaper publisher and writer, Horace Greeley was a significant public figure for reform from the 1840s to the early 1870s and was affectionately called "Uncle Horace" by admiring readers. He was a leading proponent for abolition (end of slavery) through the Civil War years, supported programs for the poor and working class, and sought to improve society through pacifism (nonviolence) and cooperation. During the Reconstruction era (1865–77), Greeley rallied for civil rights legislation and favored policies of reconciliation toward former members of the Confederacy. The latter view distanced Greeley...
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Born August 25, 1836
Albany, New York
Died May 5, 1902
Writer and editor
"The only sure thing about luck is that it will change."
In 1868, Bret Harte burst onto the literary scene as a popular writer of tales set in California mining camps and boomtowns and as the founding editor of a new magazine called Overland Monthly. By 1871, he signed the highest paying publishing contract in American history to that time. Harte was known as a satirist (a writer who uses a humorous tone to criticize human characteristics) and a writer who specialized in regional stories. He carefully recreated distinct California settings, speech patterns of people drawn to mining districts, and details of clothing and manners from people of high society to everyday men and women trying to get rich or find work. Harte himself experienced the boom and bust of a gold rush: He went from being the highest-paid and most popular writer in America to experiencing a series of personal and professional failures within...
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Hayden, Ferdinand V.
Born September 7, 1829
Died December 22, 1887
Explorer and geologist
"From the river our path led up the steep sides of the hill for about one mile when we came suddenly and unexpectedly in full view of the [Mammoth Hot Springs of Yellowstone].… Before us arose a high white mountain, looking precisely like a frozen cascade.…
Geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden is best remembered for his 1871 expedition that directly led Congress to pass and President Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885; served 1869-77; see entry) to sign legislation creating Yellowstone National Park. Reports by Hayden and members of his expedition, which included painter Thomas Moran (1837–1926) and photographer William Henry Jackson (1843–1942), thrilled and astounded politicians and the general public about the natural wonders and sublime beauty of the region. As a geologist and explorer, Hayden traveled in and mapped the states of Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho. During his early work in the...
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Hayes, Rutherford B.
Born October 4, 1822
Died January 17, 1893
U.S. president and U.S. general
"[Here] we are, Republicans, Democrats, colored people, white people, Confederate soldiers, and Union soldiers, all of one mind and one heart today! And why should we not be? What is there to separate us any longer?"
Rutherford B. Hayes presided over the end of the Reconstruction era (1865–77). During his administration, a poor American economy improved and much needed reform was brought to the federal government. But Hayes had a frustrating presidency. It began with a bitter election dispute that was finally settled more than three months after election day and only two days before Hayes took office. Conflict between North and South, Republican and Democrat, made it impossible for Hayes to have a successful administration, even though he proved trustworthy, optimistic, and fair-minded.
Studies and practices law
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born on October 4, 1822, in...
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Howe, Julia Ward
Born May 27, 1819
New York City, New York
Died October 17, 1910
Newport, Rhode Island
Writer and lecturer; activist for abolition, women's rights, and peace
"The new domain now made clear to me was that of true womanhood—woman no longer in her ancillary relation to her opposite, man, but in her direct relation to the divine plan and purpose, as a free agent, fully sharing with man every human right and every human responsibility."
Julia Ward Howe is perhaps best known as the writer of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1862), which became the unofficial song of the Union army during the American Civil War (1861–65). However, Howe was equally significant during her lifetime as an activist for abolition (ending slavery), women's rights, peace, and prison reform. She was a founding member of the American Woman Suffrage Association, a leading organization for promoting voting rights for women. A noted lecturer and author, Howe was the first woman elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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Born December 29, 1808
Raleigh, North Carolina
Died July 31, 1875
Carter's Station, Tennessee
President, politician, and tailor
"[Most,] if not all, of our domestic troubles are directly traceable to violations of the organic law and excessive legislation. The most striking illustrations of this fact are furnished by the enact ments of the past three years upon the question of reconstruction."
Andrew Johnson succeeded to the presidency after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865; served 1861–65) in April 1865, just a month into Lincoln's second term as president. Johnson was chosen by Lincoln to be his vice president as a symbolic gesture of uniting the nation during the Civil War (1861–65): Lincoln was a Republican from the North, Johnson a Democrat from the South. Johnson faced great challenges as president; the Civil War was over and the nation needed to be reunified and to respect the freedom of emancipated slaves. But Congress and Johnson held different views on Reconstruction (1865–77), the rebuilding of the...
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Born c. September 20, 1822
Died December 10, 1909
Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota
Native American (Lakota) tribal leader and warrior
"I was born a Lakota and I have lived a Lakota and I shall die a Lakota. Before the white man came to our country, the Lakotas were a free people.… The white men made the laws to suit themselves and they compel us to obey them."
Red Cloud was leader of the most successful war involving Native Americans and the United States. His success is not measured in the number of people killed or the amount of territory taken. Instead, Red Cloud is credited for stopping, at least for a few years, the loss of land and way of life of his tribe. From 1866 until the Second Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, Red Cloud and his warriors frustrated U.S. government attempts to build a road for miners and settlers that led across Lakota (Sioux) lands and into Montana. The treaty led U.S. troops to abandon three forts built to protect the road, and Sioux sovereignty (authority) over the territory was recognized. The treaty...
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Born September 1822
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Died January 16, 1901
Minister, educator, and U.S. senator
"I maintain that the past record of my race is a true index of the feelings which today animate them.… They aim not to elevate themselves by sacrificing one single interest of their white fellow-citizens. They ask but the rights which are theirs by God's universal law.…
A religious leader and educator, Hiram Revels traveled as a preacher and missionary throughout the Midwest and the upper South before the Civil War (1861–65). During the war, Revels served the Union army as a chaplain for African American soldiers. After settling in Mississippi, Revels became in 1870 the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He was elected to complete an open term of two years that had been vacant since Jefferson Davis (1808–1889; see Confederate Leaders entry) had left the Senate to become president of the Confederate States of America. Revels later served as the first president of Alcorn...
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Richards, Ellen H.
Born December 3, 1842
Died March 30, 1911
Chemist, educator, and founder of the discipline of home economics
"I hope in a quiet way I am winning a way which others will keep open. Perhaps the fact that I am not a Radical or a believer in the all powerful ballot for women to right her wrongs and that I do not scorn womanly duties, but claim it as a privilege to clean up and sort of supervise the room and sew things, etc., is winning me stronger allies than anything else."
The first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ellen Richards was a chemist and the founder of the discipline of home economics, now often called family and consumer sciences. In addition to being a student pioneer at MIT (she was the first American woman to earn a bachelor of chemistry degree) and then as a professor, she helped break barriers and opened more opportunities for women in science professions. In addition to creating methods for analyzing air and water quality, food values,...
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Born December 19, 1814
Died December 24, 1869
Attorney general, secretary of war, and lawyer
"Now he belongs to the ages." (on the death of Abraham Lincoln)
Edwin Stanton was one of the nation's best-known attorneys during the 1850s, an extremely effective secretary of war under President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865; served 1861–65) during most of the Civil War (1861–65), and a controversial figure in the administration of President Andrew Johnson (1808–1875; served 1865–69; see entry). As Johnson struggled with Congress over control of Reconstruction, the program through which states that joined the Confederacy would reenter the Union, Stanton openly sided with the views of congressional leaders. Johnson hesitated to fire Stanton; when he finally demanded Stanton's resignation, Congress began the first-ever impeachment (formal accusation of wrongdoing) case against a U.S. president. Known for his quick temper and penetrating questions, Stanton overcame personal tragedies and used...
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Born April 4, 1792
Died August 11, 1868
U.S. congressman, lawyer, and mill owner
"We have turned, or are about to turn, loose four million slaves without a hut to shelter them or a cent in their pockets. The infernal laws of slavery have prevented them from acquiring an education, understanding the common laws of contract, or of managing the ordinary business of life. This Congress is bound to provide for them until they can take care of themselves."
A powerful congressman who fought for the abolition (end) of slavery and for civil rights legislation for freedmen, Thaddeus Stevens was a leading "Radical Reconstructionist." This term describes congressmen who favored strict terms and a carefully supervised program for allowing former Confederate states to reenter the Union after the Civil War (1861–65). Stevens led the battle against President Andrew Johnson (1808–1875; served 1865–69; see entry), who wanted a speedier and more lenient program for reunification. Stevens led the...
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Born January 6, 1811
Died March 11, 1874
"This is one of the last great battles with slavery. Driven from the legislative chambers [and] the field of war, this monstrous power has found a refuge in the executive mansion, where, in utter disregard of the Constitution and laws, it seeks to exercise its ancient, far-reaching sway.… Andrew Johnson is the impersonation of the tyrannical slave power. In him it lives again."
Charles Sumner led the causes of abolition (ending slavery) and civil rights for over two decades in the U.S. Senate. Uncompromising and often intolerant of opinions different than his own—Sumner once stated, "Nothing against slavery can be unconstitutional!"—he pursued immediate and absolute human equality. During the Reconstruction era (1865-77), Sumner was the Senate leader of the Radical Reconstructionists. These congressmen advocated an aggressive policy for securing the social and economic equality for freedmen (former slaves) and sought to set the terms...
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Tilden, Samuel J.
Born February 9, 1814
New Lebanon, New York
Died August 4, 1886
Yonkers, New York
Governor of New York, presidential candidate, and lawyer
"If my voice could reach throughout our country and be heard in its remotest hamlet I would say, 'Be of good cheer. The Republic will live. The institutions of our fathers are not to expire in shame. The sovereignty of the people shall be rescued from this peril and be reestablished.'"
Samuel J. Tilden was a popular national figure during the 1870s as he successfully fought against political corruption in New York and became the Democratic presidential candidate in the 1876 election. Tilden lost one of the most controversial presidential elections in American history. Despite finishing with 250,000 more popular votes than his opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893; served 1877–81; see entry), Tilden fell one electoral vote shy of becoming president. A newly created election commission ruled that disputed electoral votes from four states should all go to Hayes. Tilden retired to...
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Born May 13, 1830
Buncombe County, North Carolina
Died April 15, 1894
Politician and lawyer
"I do not, altogether, share the general alarm that pervades the Southern mind. The taunts, the gibes, the sneers and the vulgar triumphs of ignoble spirits, which so annoy and mortify, were to be expected.… Happily it is not in the nature of man always to hate; and the reign of the bad passions is short-lived."
Zebulon Vance was an important political force for North Carolina for over thirty years. He attempted to ease the growing unrest between North and South in the years leading up to the Civil War (1861–65). He was a Confederate military leader during the war, but he had key differences with Confederate leaders over their policy of forced conscription (mandatory military service for all young men) and their harsh treatment of deserters (those who leave military service without permission). Following the war, Vance was a voice for reconciliation. As the Reconstruction era (1865–77) was ending, Vance served as...
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Born January 10, 1835
Died October 3, 1895
Atlantic City, New Jersey
"The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches."
Harry Wright organized, managed, and played on the first all-professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869. Baseball had been played since the 1840s under many rules still in effect today, and some teams or bettors had occasionally paid players, but the Red Stockings paid all their players and influenced the development of organized, professional baseball. The Red Stockings traveled the country and won their first 130 games (89 against certified opponents). During the 1870s, Wright played and managed in the first two professional baseball leagues, the National Association of Baseball Clubs (1871–75) and the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs (still in existence today as Major League...
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