Tennessee State Library and Archives


Year State and National Events Slavery and Racial Issues African American Institutions and Accomplishments
1861 Kansas is admitted to the Union as a free state.
Jefferson Davis is inaugurated President of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama.

Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated President, with Hannibal Hamlin as his Vice President.

The Confederate States of America adopts a Constitution. 

Confederate batteries fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, in the first engagement of the Civil War.

The Tennessee General Assembly votes to secede from the Union, despite the fact that many Tennesseans oppose secession.
The TN General Assembly authorizes a draft of free black men into the Confederate army.  Most will evade the local sheriffs who enforce it.  
1862 The Confederate flag is lowered from the Tennessee Capitol as Nashville surrenders to Union forces.

Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson is appointed military governor and arrives in Nashville to head the occupation forces. Memphis surrenders to Union forces. 

The Morrill Act allocates federal land to states for teaching “agricultural and mechanical” subjects and military training.  UT is such a school.

Congress passes the Second Confiscation Act and the Militia Act. Lincoln can now use black soldiers in the Union Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is published.
Nathaniel Gordon, a slave trader from Maine, is hanged in New York City for piracy. Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia. 

Work on Fort Negley, the largest Union fort west of Washington, D.C., is completed by Union soldiers and hundreds of conscripted black workers.
1863 President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

The Conscription Act/Enrollment Act is passed, requiring enrollment of
all able-bodied men in the Union Army. 

West Virginia is admitted as the 35th state.  Its constitution mandates the gradual emancipation of slaves.

A week after the Battle of Gettysburg, opposition to the draft and its “rich
man’s exemptions”  sparks a riot in New York City.

The Bureau of U.S. Colored Troops opens in Nashville.  More than 20,000 of the 180,000 USCT will be from Tennessee.

Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.

The Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction pardons Confederates pledging loyalty to the Union and agreeing to accept emancipation.
  The 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, an all-black unit, attack Fort Wagner in Charleston, SC.  Nearly half are killed, wounded, or captured.

The statue “Freedom” is placed on top of the U.S. Capitol. Sculptor Philip Reid was a slave in a Maryland foundry when the statue was cast.
1864 Radical Republicans dispute Lincoln’s policies; Congress will not recognize Southern states’ governments or seat their elected representatives.

Congress passes a bill authorizing equal pay, equipment, arms, and health care for African American troops in the Union Army. 

Congress passes the Wade-Davis Bill, demanding tighter restrictions on Southern states and black equality under law. Lincoln vetoes it.

Sherman takes Atlanta.
Tennessee’s Military Governor Andrew Johnson urges Unionists to vote slavery out of the state. The black Baptists of the West and South organize the Northwestern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler becomes the first black woman to receive a medical degree; after the war she will work with the Freedmen’s Bureau.
1865 Under Union Gen. Sherman’s Field Order No. 15, 40-acre plots of land are set aside for the exclusive use of freed blacks.

U.S. Congress approves the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude, sending the 13th  Amendment to the states for ratification.

General William T. Sherman’s army turns north toward the Carolinas and 

Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated for a second term, pledging “malice toward none and charity for all.”  Andrew Johnson is Vice President.

Tennessee voters ratify the new state constitution, which includes an
anti-slavery amendment.
The Tennessee General Assembly ratifies the 13th  Amendment. 

Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Court House VA. 

In the last speech he will deliver, Pres. Lincoln makes a rare public
endorsement of  limited voting rights for black voters. 

Lincoln is assassinated.  Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, becomes President (1865-1869).

Confederate General Joe Johnston meets with General William T. Sherman in North Carolina to negotiate his surrender. 
Pres. Johnson issues his Amnesty Proclamation requiring loyalty oaths and ratification of the 13th  Amendment.

Southern white men excluded from the general amnesty begin appeals for
individual pardons. 

Southern states open Constitutional Conventions to renounce secession, disavow the Southern debt, & ratify the 13th Amendment.

Ulysses S. Grant makes a victory tour of an unexpectedly friendly South and recommends lenient Reconstruction policies.

Newly-elected Senators & Representatives from Southern states are denied their seats in the 39th  Congress.
The 13th  Amendment, abolishing slavery, is ratified. 

Southern states begin local, state, and congressional elections, anticipating full restoration to the Union as soon as they comply with Johnson’s order
The Tennessee General Assembly amends the state constitution to prohibit slavery; voters will ratify the amendment in March.

The Confederate States Congress authorizes the recruitment of black soldiers to serve in the Confederate Army.

“Juneteenth,” the oldest known celebration celebrating the end of slavery– word of Emancipation finally reaches slaves in the Texas interior.

Night riders expand their terrorist activities throughout Tennessee, causing Major General Thomas to increase the Union presence in the state.

Pres. Johnson issues a controversial order to return appropriated land to its former owners, even that granted to freedmen by Field Order No. 15

Issuance of Mississippi’s first “Black Codes” imposing restrictions on black citizens.
By this point about 180,000 African American men  have served in the Union Army, and many more in the Navy.

African-American soldiers comprise 10% of the entire Union Army – one-third of all blacks in the military will lose their lives in the Civil War.
Four Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company Bank branches are now operating in Tennessee between 1865 and 1874.
William Scott begins publication of  The Colored Tennessean, the first
black newspaper in Nashville.
John Mercer Langston, founder/dean of the Howard University Law School, speaks at Nashville’s 2nd Annual Emancipation Day celebration.

Fisk Free Colored School opens.  The school will number 600 students by
February and will continue to expand for some time.

J.S. Rock, who will be the first black lawyer to practice in the Supreme Court, is admitted to the Supreme Court bar.

Martin Robinson Delany, promoted to major in the U.S. Army, becomes
the first African American to receive a regular army commission.

U.S. Congress establishes the Freedmen’s Bureau to ease the transition from slavery; it will continue in operation until 1868.

First State Colored Men’s Convention meets in Nashville, calling for ratification of the 13th  Amendment, full citizenship, and black suffrage.

Southern cities begin to experience an influx of freedmen that will double the black population of the South’s ten largest cities within five years.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
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