A Timeline of Reconstruction: 1865-1877
1865 Thirteenth Amendment approved in January. Ratified in
December. Abolished slavery in the United States.
Congress establishes Freedmen's Bureau in March to provide
assistance to the emancipated slaves.
Assassination of President Lincoln, April 15. Vice President Andrew
Johnson becomes president.
End of the Civil War (April 9, 1965). Lee surrenders to Grant.
President Johnson presents plans for Reconstruction.
Benjamin Butler, notorious Union General in the Civil War and
advocate of rights for African Americans, elected to Congress as a
radical member of the Republican party.
Mississippi enacts Black Code.
Joint Committee of Fifteen on Reconstruction created.
Ku Klux Klan created in Tennessee.
1866 Civil Rights Act passed despite Johnson's earlier veto.
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution approved by Congress.
Memphis race riot/Massacre (May 1).
Freedmen's Bureau responsibilities and powers expanded by
Congress. Legislation is vetoed by Johnson but Congress overrides
New Orleans Race Riot/Massacre (July 30).
1867 First Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.
Second Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.
Third Reconstruction Act passed over Johnson's veto.
Republican convention in New Orleans. Party platform includes
equality for African-Americans.
1868 Former slave, Oscar J. Dunn, elected lieutenant governor
Fourth Reconstruction Act passed.
Fourteenth Amendment ratified. Entitles all persons born or
naturalized in the United States to citizenship and equal protection
under the laws of the United States.
Francis L. Cardozo elected secretary of state in South Carolina.
Holds office from 1868 to 1872.
Thaddeus Stevens, radical republican and supporter of land for
John W. Menard of Louisiana elected to the United States Congress.
Menard is barred from his seat by white members of Congress. When
Menard pleaded his case to be seated, he became the first Black
representative to speak on the floor of the House.
James J. Harris and P.B.S. Pinchback are the first African American
delegates to a Republican convention. They support the nomination of
Ulysses S. Grant for president.
1869 Former Union General Ulysses S. Grant becomes
president. Although allied with the Radical Republicans in Congress he
does not provide strong leadership for Reconstruction.
1870 Hiram Revels elected to U. S. Senate as the first black
Jasper J. Wright elected to South Carolina Supreme court.
Fifteenth Amendment ratified. The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution gave the vote to all male citizens regardless of color or
previous condition of servitude.
Joseph H. Rainey, first black member sworn in as member of U. S.
House of Representatives. December 12, 1870.
1870 - 71 Forty-first Congress. Two black members in the House
of Representatives including Robert Brown Elliot from the 3rd District
in South Carolina.
1871 Forty-second Congress. Five black members in the House
of Representatives: Benjamin S. Turner of Alabama; Josiah T. Walls
of Florida; and Robert Brown Elliot, Joseph H. Rainey and Robert
Carlos DeLarge of South Carolina.
Act to Enforce Fourteenth Amendment (Ku Klux Klan Act).
1872 Freedmen's Bureau abolished.
1872 - 1873 P. B. S. Pinchback, acting governor of Louisiana
from December 9, 1872 to January 13, 1873. Pinchback, a black
politician, was the first black to serve as a state governor, although
due to white resistance, his tenure is extremely short.
1874 Blanche K. Bruce elected to U. S. Senate.
Robert Smalls, black hero of the Civil War, elected to Congress as
representative of South Carolina.
1873 - 75 Forty-third Congress. Six black members in House the
House of Representatives.
1875 - 77 Forty-fourth Congress. Six black members in the
House of Representatives.
1875 March 1--Civil Rights Act enacted by Congress. It provides
blacks with the right to equal treatment in public places and
The Supreme Court later declared this Act unconstitutional.
Blanche Kelso elected as Senator of Mississippi. He is the first
African-American Senator to serve a complete six year term.
1876 U. S. Senate votes not to seat P. B. S. Pinchback.
Wade Hampton inaugurated as governor of South Carolina. The
election of Hampton, a leader in the Confederacy, confirms fears that
the South is not committed to Reconstruction.
1877 Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated President of the United
1877-79 Forty-fifth Congress. Four black members in House.
Last federal troops leave South Carolina effectively ending the
Federal government's presence in the South.
Robert Brown Elliott yields office of attorney general of South