Notes on Reconstruction

1865 - War ends - Lincoln assassinated-April 14th 1865


1865 - Henry Wirz, Commanding officer at the most notorious prisoner of war camp, Andersonville, hanged for war crimes


1865 - 13th Amendment ratified - slavery abolished throughout the United States. It reads as follows: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


1865 –Freedman’s bureau established headed by general Oliver O. Howard


1866 –Congress passes Civil Rights Act into law, despite President Johnson’s veto.


1866 -Gen. Phil Sheridan estimates western plains buffalo herd at 100,000,000. There are claims that this number was actually lower than the true number. He kept it low because he felt any higher number would be too unbelievable.


1866 –Ku Klux Klan activities increase in the south. Organization used violence and intimidation to try to keep former slaves from exercising their newfound freedoms.


1867 -U.S. purchases Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000 Sec. of State William Seward negotiates the deal. This purchase ended Russia's presence in North America and ensured U.S. access to the Pacific northern rim. Purchase is highly criticized at first because most Americans at that time did not know the true value of the territory.


1868 - Johnson impeached by the House of Representatives - trail held in Senate. Additional info available on-line at   Senate fails to convict President Johnson by a single vote.


1868 - 14th Amendment ratified - defines citizenship. For the full text of the amendment check this site:


1868 -Republican Ulysses S. Grant defeats Democrat Horatio Seymour in presidential election


1868 - 15th Amendment – states that the right to vote (suffrage) shall not be denied because of the color of your skin.


Radical Republicans-led by Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Benjamin Wade


1869 - Cincinnati Reds became the first salaried team in baseball. Shortstop George Wright will earn a salary reported to be between $1,400 and $2,000 for that first season.


1869 - College football begins - Rutgers defeats Princeton in the first intercollegiate football game 6-4. Details on the Rutgers football site:


1869 - Jay Gould and Jim Fisk attempt, then fail, to corner the gold market


1870 - Women cast their vote for the first time legally in the United States (Wyoming territory). About 1,000 women turn out for the first election.


1871 - 300 die in huge Chicago blaze. Fire does $200 million in damage


1872 – Ulysses S. Grant defeats New York newspaper publisher Horace Greeley in reelection bid for the presidency. Corruption in the Grant administration exposed.


1872 - Wm. Marcy Tweed and other corrupt N.Y. city officials jailed for fraud. He was responsible for defrauding New York taxpayer of millions of dollars.


1873 - San Francisco begins operating its first cable cars


1874 - Joseph Glidden introduces barbed wire for cattle fencing on the open plains


1875 – Jockey Oliver Lewis aboard Aristides wins first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky


1875 - Thomas Adams of Brooklyn markets first chewing gum


1875 - Gold prospectors clash with Indians in the Dakota Territory


1876 - Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone


1876 - Huge exposition in Philadelphia Celebrates American’s 100th birthday


1876 - Henry Heinz and his Pittsburgh company introduces “Ketchup” in a bottle. For more details and a list of other company milestones check:


1876 - Gen. G.A. Custer and his men killed in battle at the Little Bighorn River


1876 - Rutherford B. Hayes defeats Samuel J. Tilden in disputed election. Disputed returns come in from South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida. See detailed election map.


1877 - Compromise puts Hayes in the White House while Federal troops are withdrawn from the south


1877 - Thomas Edison invents phonograph. The phonograph was developed as a result of Thomas Edison's work on two other inventions, the telegraph and the telephone. More info available at: