Ulysses S. Grant Timeline


Ulysses S. Grant


Slavery Divides the Nation
In the 1800's, the United States was divided over the issue of slavery. In the North, abolitionists were against slavery. In the South, plantation owners were in favor of slavery.

The issue of slavery played an important role when a new state was admitted into the Union. Would the new state enter as a free state and not allow slavery or would the new state enter as a slave state and allow slavery?

A Constitutional Amendment?
Whether a state would be admitted into the Union as a free state or a slave state was a critical question because the only way to abolish slavery was to amend the U.S. Constitution. To amend the Constitution, three-fourths of the states would have to vote in favor of abolishing slavery. If there were a balance between free states and slave states, a constitutional amendment would not pass.

The North wanted the new state to be admitted as a free state because it wanted to end the spread of slavery. The South wanted the new state to be admitted as a slave state because it wanted to keep a balance between free states and slave states to protect slavery.

The U.S. passed several laws to determine whether a new state would be admitted as a free state or a slave state. These include the Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Compromise of 1820
The Compromise of 1820 admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state. It also stated slavery would not be allowed in any state formed north of Missouri's southern border.

The drawing of this line was arbitrary, but it pleased both the North and the South. The North was satisfied because it stopped slavery from spreading. The South was satisfied because it protected slavery in the southern parts of the country.

When the Compromise of 1820 was passed, the existing territories of the U.S. were either above or below this arbitrary line. This lasted until 1848. In 1848, the United States won the Mexican War and gained new territories in the west. One of these territories was California.

Compromise of 1850
In 1850, California asked to join the Union. The Compromise of 1820 could not settle the issue of slavery in California because California extended across the arbitrary line marking the southern border of Missouri.

The Compromise of 1850 tried to settle this dispute. The state of California was admitted into the Union as a free state. The other territories recently annexed from Mexico (as a result of the Mexican War) would choose for themselves whether to be a free state or a slave state.

Kansas-Nebraska Act
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act extended the Compromise of 1850 to all U.S. territories. The people of Kansas, Nebraska, and other territories would decide for themselves whether to be a free state or a slave state.

The South Secedes from the Union
These laws did not solve tensions between the abolitionists and the slave owners. Instead, they divided the country more.

In November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States. The Southern states were not happy with Lincoln's victory as president because they did not agree with his position against slavery. They decided to secede or withdraw from the Union.

The Confederate States of America
On December 20, 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union. Within a few months, ten more states seceded: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. There were only 23 states remaining in the Union. The Southern states formed their own government called the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis as President.

The American Civil War Begins (April 12, 1861)
On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Union-controlled Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. The American Civil War had begun.

The Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862)
In September, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia into northern territory for the first time during the Civil War. On September 17, Lee's army met the Union Army of the Potomac at Sharpsburg, Maryland, near Antietam Creek. The Union army was led by Major General George B. McClellan.

Did you know the South refers to the battle as the Battle of Sharpsburg, and the North refers to the battle as the Battle of Antietam?

The Union army (87,000 troops) outnumbered the Confederate army (40,000 troops) by more than 2-to-1. The armies fought at North Woods, East Woods, West Woods, the Cornfield, Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, and Burnside's Bridge.

At the end of the day, the battle was tactically a draw. Over 22,000 men were killed or wounded. The Battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.

The next day, Lee's Army withdrew into Virginia, and the Union claimed Antietam as a victory. Five days later, on September 22, President Abraham Lincoln used this victory to issue a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863)
On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It freed about 4 million African-Americans held as slaves in the southern states and southern-held territories. It also changed the Civil War from a war for preservation (keeping the Union together) into a war of liberation (freeing the slaves).

The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863)
In the summer of 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee led his troops into Northern territory for the second time during the Civil War. Lee's army met the Union army at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Union army was led by General George G. Meade. The two armies fought at Gettysburg for three days from July 1 to July 3, 1863.

On July 1, the Confederate army met the Union army west of Gettysburg. They fought at McPherson's Ridge, the Railroad Cut, and McPherson's Woods. The Confederate army pushed the Union army back through the town. The armies' lines formed a "fishhook." The Confederate army was located in a "fishhook" along Seminary Ridge, and the Union army was located in a "fishhook" along Cemetery Ridge.

On July 2, the Confederate army confronted the Union army at Little Round Top, Big Round Top, Devil's Den, the Wheat Field, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, and Culp's Hill. The Confederate army gained some territory, and then fell back to its original line along Seminary Ridge.

On July 3, fighting continued at Culp's Hill in the morning. In the afternoon, the Confederate artillery began a 150-cannon barrage on the Union line located on Cemetery Ridge. The Confederate army then marched across the one mile open field towards the clump of trees marking the center of the Union army's position. This charge is known as Pickett's Charge. The two armies met at the Angle on Cemetery Ridge. This position is known as the High Water Mark. The Union army held off the assault, and the Confederate army fell back.

After three days of fighting, the Confederate army retreated from the battlefield, and the Union army won the battle. As both armies left the field, over 61,000 men were dead or wounded. The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg is known as the High Tide of the Confederacy because it was the closest the Confederate army came to defeating the Union army. If the Confederate army had won the battle, this victory may have led to a southern victory of the war. The Confederate defeat at Gettysburg was a turning point of the Civil War. Although the war continued for another two years, the Confederacy never had a better chance of winning the war than it did at Gettysburg.

Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865)
On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Approximately 26,765 Confederate soldiers surrendered.

The McLean House was owned by Wilmer McLean. At the beginning of the Civil War, McLean lived in Manassas, Virginia. The Battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861, was the first major battle of the Civil War, and part of this battle was fought on McLean's property. McLean moved to Appomattox Court House to get away from the fighting. Then in April, 1865, the Armies met in Appomattox Court House, and the Confederate Army surrendered in McLean's home. Because of this sequence of events, it has been said the Civil War began in Wilmer McLean's back yard and ended in his front parlor.

The American Civil War lasted four years and was finally over. Over 600,000 Americans died. More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the wars combined from 1775 to 1975. In the end, the Union was preserved and slavery was abolished.

13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments
After the American Civil War, there were three amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

  1. The Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery in the United States. It was proposed to the state legislatures by the 38th Congress on January 31, 1865. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states on December 6, 1865.
    Section 1 states, "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."

    The Fourteenth Amendment grants due process and equal protection to all citizens. It was proposed to the state legislatures by the 39th Congress on June 13, 1866. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states on July 9, 1868.
    Section 1 states, "…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

     The Fifteenth Amendment gives a man the right to vote regardless of his "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." It was proposed to the state legislatures by the 40th Congress on February 26, 1869. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states in February 3, 1870.
    Section 1 states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The period following the American Civil War is known as Reconstruction. It brought the Southern states back into the Union and allowed the United States to rebuild the South's economic, social, and political structures. The country was united once again.

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©  2009 D. K. Malowney


Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He died on July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York.