First All-Black Denomination Organized
American Colonization Society Founded
The American Colonization Society was founded to transport freeborn blacks and emancipated slaves to Africa, leading to the creation of a colony that became the Republic of Liberia in 1847.
U.S. Annexes East Florida
The U.S. annexes East Florida, which previously served as a refuge for runaway slaves.
U.S. law Declares Slave Trading Capital Offense
U.S. law declares slave trading to be a capital offense.
US Not Allowed to Pursue Escaped Slaves in Canada
Canada denies the American government the right to pursue runaway slaves within its borders.
Restraints on Slave Trade Removed
Virginia and North Carolina remove restraints on interstate slave trade.
Virginia Outlaws Teaching Blacks
Virginia outlaws blacks and mulattoes, whether free or slave, from meeting for the purposes of education and forbids teaching blacks to read and write.
Friends Accompany Customs Inspectors
Federal law passed requiring the inspection of passenger conditions on ships is used by Quakers to monitor conditions in the slave trade at the Baltimore (Maryland) Port. Society of Friends members accompany federal Customs inspectors.
Missouri Becomes Slave State
Missouri Compromise allows Missouri to become a slave state, establishes Maine as a free state, and bans slavery in the territory west of Missouri.
South Carolina Bans Anti-slavery Speech
South Carolina announces penalties for introducing any written anti-slavery material into the state.
South Carolina Requires Slaves to Wear ID Tags
In Charleston, South Carolina, slaves are required to wear distinctive identification tags. This law is later extended to free blacks in the city as well.
First Organized Emigration of US Blacks to Africa
The first organized emigration of U.S. blacks back to Africa from New York to Sierra Leon
The Genius of Universal Emancipation Established
New Jersey Quaker born Benjamin Lundy establishes the first American anti-slavery newspaper, The Genius of Universal Emancipation, in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. From September 1829 until March 1830, William Lloyd Garrison assists the paper. In 1836-1838 Lundy establishes and another anti-slavery weekly in Philadelphia, The National Enquirer. This paper becomes The Pennsylvania Freeman with John Greenleaf Whittier as one of its later editors.
Liberia is founded as a colony for blacks fleeing America.
Denmark Vesey Plans Slave Revolt
Denmark Vesey, an enslaved African American carpenter who had purchased his freedom, plans a slave revolt with the intent to lay siege on Charleston, South Carolina. The plot is discovered, and Vesey and 34 co-conspirators are hanged. Others are sold out of the state.
Philadelphia Opens Segregated Public Schools
Segregated public schools for blacks open in Philadelphia.
Tennessee Bans Slave Trade
Tennessee officially bans slave trading.
Texas Requires Some Slaves be Freed
Texas requires that one tenth of the slaves inherited by any estate be freed.
Texas Allows Individual Slave Sales
Texas permits slaves to be sold between individuals.
Freedom Journal Established
John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish establish the first African American newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, in New York. The paper circulates in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe, and Canada.
Sarah Mapps Douglas Establishes School
Sarah Mapps Douglass, a black educator and contributor to The Anglo African, an early black paper, establishes a school for black children in Philadelphia. Mapps becomes an important leader in the Female Anti-Slavery Society and is a life-long friend of Angelina and Sarah Grimke. After the Civil War, she becomes a leader in the Pennsylvania Branch of the American Freedman’s Aid Commission, which worked to protect and provide services to the former enslaved in the South.
Walker Publishes Slavery Condemnation
In Boston, Massachusetts, David Walker publishes his widely read vociferous condemnation of slavery, An appeal to the colored citizens of the world, and Walker’s Appeal in Four Articles. Walker’s Appeal, arguably the most radical of all anti-slavery documents, causes a great stir with its call for slaves to revolt against their masters and its protest against colonization.
Mexico Abolishes Slavery
Mexico abolishes slavery and becomes a refuge for American fugitive slaves.
Slave Population Exceeds Two Million
The slave population in the U.S. numbers more than two million, making the ratio of free to enslaved Americans approximately 5.5:1.
Virginia Legislature Launches Debate
Virginia legislature launches an intense debate on abolishing slavery.
Canada Becomes Important Refuge for Fugitive Slaves
In response to Ohio’s Black Laws restricting African American freedom, blacks migrate north to establish free black colonies in Canada, which becomes an important refuge for fugitive slaves.
First Negro Convention
The first National Negro Convention convenes in Philadelphia.
Convention of People of Color
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hosts the 1st annual Convention of People of Color.
Underground Railroad Given Name
The Underground Railroad is given its name.
The Liberator Founded
William Lloyd Garrison founds The Liberator, the most famous anti-slavery newspaper.
Anti-Slavery Society Founded
The New England Anti-Slavery Society is founded.
Maria Stewart Speaks Out Against Slavery
Maria W. Stewart, a free black woman in Boston, Massachusetts, speaks out against slavery, becoming the first African-American woman to deliver a public lecture in the U.S.
Debates in Virginia Mark Beginning of Movement
Debates in Virginia concerning emancipation mark the beginning of the last antebellum movement toward abolition in the South.
North Carolina Prohibits Educating Slaves
North Carolina passes a law enforcing prohibition against teaching slaves to read and write as well as against providing slaves with reading materials like books or pamphlets.
Nat Turner Leads Slave Uprising
Nat Turner, an enslaved African American preacher, leads the most significant slave uprising in American history. He and his band of followers launch a short, bloody, rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. The militia quells the rebellion, and Turner is eventually hanged. As a consequence, Virginia institutes much stricter slave laws.
Virginia Prohibits Religious Services
Virginia passes a law enforcing prohibitions against slaves congregating for religious service at night, regardless of whether black or white preachers hold those services.
Louisiana Removes Slave Trade Restraints
Louisiana removes restraints on the interstate slave trade.
American Antislavery Society Organized
American Antislavery Society, led by William Lloyd Garrison, is organized in Philadelphia. For the next three decades, the Society campaigns that slavery is illegal under natural law, and sees the Constitution as a covenant with hell.
Britain Abolishes Slavery in Colonies
August 1 becomes another black American and abolitionist holiday when Britain abolishes slavery in its colonies.
Anti-abolition riots break out in major cities across the Northeast.
Second Seminole War
In the Second Seminole War, blacks again fight alongside Native Americans in opposition to U.S. forces.
North and South Carolina Continue to Try and Suppress Anti-slavery Speech
Both North and South Carolina make formal requests to other states to suppress abolition societies and anti-slavery literature.
Anti-slavery Societies Orgainized
Female antislavery societies are organized in Boston and Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society was an integrated group of white and black middle class women, led by Lucretia Mott, Harriett Forten Purvis, and Grace Bustill Douglass.
Abolitionists Lobby Congress
Abolitionists launch a campaign flooding Congress with antislavery petitions.
Texas Wins Independence From Mexico
Texas wins independence from Mexico and legalizes slavery. Free blacks and mulattos are forbidden from entering the state.
States Request Suppression of Abolition
Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama request that other states suppress abolitionist activities.
U.S. House of Representatives adopts a Gag Rule
Faced with a deluge of abolitionist petitions, the U.S. House of Representatives adopts a Gag Rule by which abolitionist materials are automatically tabled. The rule is renewed numerous times.
National Anti-Slavery Society Convention
New York City hosts the first National Anti-Slavery Society Convention.
Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society of American Women
New York City hosts the first Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society of American Women, an event attended by both black and white women.
Blacks Lose Right to Vote
Blacks in Pennsylvania and Mississippi lose the right to vote. In New York, they petition for continued voting rights.
Vigilance Committee Organized
Philadelphia blacks, under the leadership of well-to-do Robert Purvis, organize the Vigilance Committee to aid and assist fugitive slaves. Purvis’ wife, Harriett Forten Purvis, the daughter of successful black businessman James Forten, leads the Female Vigilant Society. By his contemporaries, Robert Purvis is referred to as the President of the Underground Railroad.
Antislavery Convention of American Women
First gathering of the Antislavery Convention of American Women, an inter-racial association of various female antislavery groups, becomes the first independent women’s political organization.
Founding of the Institute for Colored Youth
Founding of the Institute for Colored Youth, which later became Cheyney University, one of the earliest historically black colleges in the United States.
Philly Plagued With Anti-Black Violence
Philadelphia is plagued with anti-black and anti-abolitionist violence, particularly from Philadelphia white workers who feared that they have to compete with freed slaves for jobs. Second meeting of the Antislavery Convention of American Women, gathered in Philadelphia at the newly built Pennsylvania Hall, is attacked by a mob. The mob burns down the hall, as well as sets a shelter for black orphans on fire and damages a black church.
Pennsylvania Blacks Disfranchised
Pennsylvania blacks are disfranchised in the revised state Constitution.
Fredrick Douglass Runs Away From Slavery
A Maryland slave named Fred runs away and later becomes Frederick Douglass.
Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women Takes Place
The second Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Proslavery mobs riot in response.
The Portuguese slave ship Diligente, which was engaged in the illegal slave trade, was captured by a British ship.
Liberty Party Holds First National Convention
In Albany, New York, a committed political action group called the Liberty Party holds its first National Convention in the name of abolition.
Africans Board Amistad and Commit Mutiny
Africans aboard the Spanish slave ship, Amistad, commit mutiny. When the ship lands off the coast of Long Island, the slaves plea for freedom in court.
Liberty Party Promotes Anti-Slavery Action
Abolitionists form the Liberty Party to promote political action against slavery.
Pope Condemns Slave Trade
Pope Gregory XVI condemned slavery and the slave trade.
Anti-slavery Society Splits Over Women's Rights
American Anti-Slavery Society splits over the issue of the public involvement of women. Dissidents opposed to women having a formal role form the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
Clarkson Chairs Convention in London
Aged and venerable abolitionist Thomas Clarkson chairs the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.
The Mystery Published
Martin Delany publishes The Mystery, the first Black-owned newspaper west of the Alleghenies and he later serves as co-editor of the Rochester North Star with Frederick Douglass.
Texas Forbids Unauthorized Trading
Texas forbids unauthorized trading with slaves and prohibits slaves from carrying weapons without written permission.
South Carolina Enacts Slave Code
South Carolina enacts a Black Code by which slaves are denied the rights to assemble, produce food, earn money, learn to read, and to possess any clothing but low-quality garments.
Slaves From Mutinous Ship Freed
The U.S. Supreme Court declares that the mutinous Africans from the slave ship Amistad are now free.
Texas Urges Citizens to Apprehend Runaway Slaves
Texas gives its citizens the right and responsibility to apprehend runaway slaves and turn them over to the law so that they may be returned to their owners or sold at auction.
Africans Revolt Aboard Creole
Africans revolt aboard the ship Creole and flee to Bahamas.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania
In the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 1793 Fugitive Slave law is constitutional, while state personal liberty laws make unconstitutional demands on slave owners. Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave law is declared the federal government’s responsibility, not the states.
Georgia Declares Free Blacks Never Citizens
The Georgia legislature declares that it will never recognize free blacks as citizens.
Mob of Angry Whites Attack Parade
An angry mob of whites in Philadelphia attacks a black temperance parade celebrating West Indian Emancipation Day. A riot ensues with mayhem lasting three days and resulting in numerous injuries to blacks, who are dragged from their homes and beaten and several homes, an abolitionist meeting place, and a church are set afire.
War With Mexico
War with Mexico adds significant western territory to the United States and opens a new arena in the fight to check the spread of slavery.
Missouri Engages in Interstate Slave Trade
Missouri removes restraints on interstate slave trade.
Texas Creates Slave Patrol
Texas creates a system for patrolling slaves.
Democratic Representative Tries to Ban Slavery
The Wilmot Proviso, introduced by Democratic representative David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, attempts to ban slavery in territory gained in the Mexican War. The proviso is blocked by Southerners, but continues to inflame the debate over slavery.
Free Soil Party Organized
Anti-slavery groups organize the Free Soil Party.
First Women's Rights Convention
Seneca Falls, New York, hosts the first Women’s Rights Convention. Women’s rights activists, such as Amy Post, Angelina Grimke, and Susan B. Anthony, become outspoken opponents of slavery.
Rhode Island Passes Personal Liberty Laws
Rhode Island passes a personal liberty law.
Connecticut Law Prohibits Slavery
Connecticut law prohibits slavery entirely.
South Carolina Allows Interstate Slave Trade
South Carolina removes restraints on interstates slave trade.
Free Soil Party Tries to Prevent Slavery Spread
Free Soil Party is organized to stop the spread of slavery into the Western territories.
Slavery Banned in French Territories
Slavery is abolished in all French territories.
Harriet Tubman Escapes Slavery
Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery. She becomes a major conductor on the Underground Railroad, as well as an advocate for Women’s Rights.
Liberia Recognized by Britain
Liberia is recognized as a sovereign state by Britain. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the son of free Virginian blacks, becomes the first president.
Virginia Permits Emancipation by Will or Deed
Virginia passes a law permitting the emancipation of any slave by will or deed.
Kentucky Embraces Interstate Slave Trade
Kentucky removes restraints on interstate slave trade.
White Mobs Attack in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania
Blacks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, protect themselves against attacks by white mobs.
Seminoles and Blacks in Texas Flee to Mexico
Approximately 300 Seminoles and blacks in Texas head to Mexico, where enslavement is prohibited.
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 admits California to the Union as a free state, allows the slave states of New Mexico and Utah to be decided by popular sovereignty, and bans slave trade in D.C.
Fugitive Slave Law Threatens Rights of Free Blacks
A second fugitive slave law, enforced by the federal government, strengthens the rights of slave owners and threatens the rights of free blacks. Many states pass personal liberty laws in response.
Maryland Embraces Interstate Slave Trade
Maryland removes restraints on interstate slave trade.
Virginia Demands Emancipated Slaves Leave State
Virginia demands that emancipated slaves leave the state within a year and forbids the legislature from freeing any slave.
Sojourner Truth Speaks at Women's Convention
Sojourner Truth gives her famous Ain’t I a Woman speech at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.
Abolitionists Found Innocent of Treason and Conspiracy
Federal marshals and Maryland slave hunters seek out suspected fugitive slaves in Christiana (Lancaster County), PA. In the ensuing struggle with black and white abolitionists, one of the attackers is killed, another is seriously wounded, and the fugitives all successfully escape. Thirty-six black men and five white men are charged with treason and conspiracy under the federal 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and brought to trial in federal court at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in which they were found innocent in a jury trial.
Uncle Tom's Cabin Published
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential abolitionist novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published.
Missouri Compromise Repealed
Congress repeals the Missouri Compromise, opening western territories to slavery and setting the stage for a bloody struggle between pro and anti-slavery forces in Kansas Territory.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act creates sovereignty to decide the slave status of each. It also repeals the anti-slavery clause of the Missouri Compromise and renews tensions between anti- and pro-slavery factions.
Ashmun Institute Chartered
Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) is chartered in April 1854 as Ashmun Institute. It becomes a higher education institution providing an education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent. Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes are among its esteemed alumni.
Martin Delany Leads National Emigration Convention
Martin Delany leads 145 participants in the 4-day National Emigration Convention in Cleveland, OH. His arguments appeal to some educated and successful northern freed blacks and are defiantly opposite the position held by Frederick Douglass and others. In 1865 Major Delany becomes the first black commissioned as a line field officer in the U.S. Army.
Connecticut, Maine and Mississippi Pass Personal Liberty Laws
Connecticut, Maine, and Mississippi pass personal liberty laws. Massachusetts and Rhode Island renew personal liberty laws first enacted in the 1840s.
Georgia and Tennessee Embrace Interstate Slave Trade
Georgia and Tennessee remove restraints on interstate slave trade.
John Mercer Langston is elected to political office in Ohio, making him the first black to serve in the U.S. government.
Still and Williamson Intercept Slave Trade
With the assistance of others, William Still, a leader in the Philadelphia Underground Railroad, and his white colleague Passmore Williamson, intercept slave owner John Weaver, his slave Jane Johnson and her two sons as they are leaving town. The two help Jane and her children leave their master for freedom.
Republican Party Forms
The Republican Party is formed out of the Free Soil Party.
Pro-slavery Groups Attack Lawrence Kansas
Pro-slavery groups in Kansas attack the free soil town of Lawrence. Radical abolitionist John Brown and his followers strike in retaliation, initiating a wave of violence and destruction, known as Bleeding Kansas.
Republican Party Holds First Convention
The Republican Party, newly formed from various groups opposing the extension of slavery, holds its first convention in Philadelphia.
Wilberforce University Founded
Wilberforce University, named for English statesman and abolitionist William Wilberforce, opens in Ohio as a private, coeducational institution affiliated with The African Methodist Episcopal Church. This is the first institution of higher education owned and operated by African Americans.
Massachusetts Senator Badly Beaten by South Carolina House Rep for Attacking Slavery in Speech
Senator Charles Sumner delivers a stinging speech in the U.S. Senate, “The Crime against Kansas,” in which he attacks slavery, the South, and singles out his Senate colleague, Andrew Butler of South Carolina, for criticism. In retaliation, Butler’s nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, attacks Sumner with a cane while the Massachusetts senator is seated at his desk on the floor of the Senate. The injuries he sustains cause Sumner to be absent from the Senate for four years.
Dred Scott v. Sanford
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sanford denies citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves and denies Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories.
New Hampshire Repeals Laws Against Blacks
New Hampshire declares that no one shall be denied citizenship on account of African descent and, along with Vermont, repeals laws against the enlistment of blacks in state militia.
Virginia Passes Comprehensive Slave Code
Richmond, Virginia, passes a comprehensive slave code that, among other stipulations, prohibits self-hiring by slaves, restricts blacks from entering certain parts of the city, specifies street etiquette, and forbids slaves from smoking, carrying canes, standing on the sidewalk, and using provocative language.
Ohio and Wisconsin Pass Personal Liberty Laws
Ohio and Wisconsin pass personal liberty laws.
First African American Novelist
Harriet E. Wilson, author of Our Nig, becomes the first African-American novelist published in the U.S.
White Workers in South Carolina Petition for Relief
White workers in South Carolina petition for relief against competition from slave and free black workers.
New Mexico Slave Code
New Mexico enacts a slave code.
Arizona Declares Free Blacks to be Slaves
Arizona declares that all free blacks in the territory will be considered slaves on the first day of the New Year.
Last Slave Ship Brings Slaves to Alabama
The last slave ship to bring slaves into the U.S. lands in Mobile Bay, Alabama.
John Brown Attempts Slave Revolt and is Executed
John Brown and 21 followers capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Va. (now West Virginia.), in an attempt to launch a slave revolt to free and arm slaves. His effort fails and he is executed.
Kentucky Senator John Crittenden proposes six amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The amendments, contained in the Crittenden Compromise, specifically addressed slavery.
Census Records Nearly 4 Million Enslaved
The British-operated slave trade across the Atlantic was one of the biggest businesses of the 18th century. Approximately 600,000 of 10 million African slaves made their way into the American colonies before the slave trade – not slavery – was banned by Congress in 1808.
By 1860, the US census recorded nearly 4 million enslaved black people (3,953,760) and 488,070 free – 13% of the population – in the country as the American-born population grew.
Abraham Lincoln Elected
Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.
Arizona Passes Expulsion Act
Arizona passes an Expulsion Act, banishing all free blacks from the state.
Texas Prohibits Manumission
Texas prohibits manumission.
South Carolina Secedes
South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Later in the year, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina also secede.
Union of Confederate States Forms
The Union of Confederate States is formed. Jefferson Davis is elected its president.
Harriet Jacobs Publishes Autobiography
Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the life of a slave girl is the first published autobiography of an African-American woman.
U.S. Civil War Begins
The Civil War begins in Charleston, South Carolina.
Black Volunteers Rejected
75,000 blacks volunteering for the U.S. army are rejected.
First Confiscation Act
Slaves seeking refuge with Northern forces are considered contraband of war. The First Confiscation Act is passed, declaring all property used in support of rebellion, including slaves, subject to capture.
Southern States Secede
Southern states secede and start Civil War between the free and the slave states.
Secretary of Navy Authorizes Slave Enlistment
The Secretary of the Navy authorizes enlistment of contrabands (slaves) taken in Confederate territories.
Congress passes a new reconstruction plan called the Wade-Davis Bill. Unlike Lincoln’s plan, this stipulates that only those who swear never to have fought against the Union can participate in the reconstruction of state governments. In addition to requiring bans on slavery, the bill demands the disenfranchisement of Confederate leaders and the repudiation of Confederate debts. Lincoln refuses to sign the bill.
National Equal Rights League Convenes
The National Equal Rights League convenes in Syracuse, New York. Delegates are all prominent northern blacks, led by John Mercer Langston who later organized Howard University’s Law Department, and included Frederick Douglass and Octavius V. Catto. Working through state chapters, the League promotes an aggressive advocacy agenda to obtain civil rights for blacks. Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are charged to take the lead. Philadelphia blacks, led by Catto, boycott to desegregate public transportation.
13th Amendment Proposed
Thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States proposed. The amendment stated that:”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.”
Reconstruction Era Begins
Reconstruction Era begins. It introduces a series of laws, codes, amendments, and acts. Although African Americans received U.S. citizenship with the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, America’s Indigenous peoples, aka Native Americans, were not U.S. citizens until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
Freedmen's Bureau Established
The Freedmen’s Bureau is established in the War Department. The Bureau supervises all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumes custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, Border States, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.
Republicans Favor Increased Intervention in South
Congress passes the first civil rights act. President Johnson’s veto of the bill is overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, and the bill becomes law. Johnson’s attitude contributes to the growth of the Radical Republican movement. These Republicans favor increased intervention in the South and more aid to former slaves, and ultimately to Johnson’s impeachment.
Fisk University Established
In Nashville, Tennessee, Fisk University is established for former slaves by the American Missionary Association. The school becomes the first black American college to receive a class “A” rating by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1878. W.E. B. DuBois graduates from Fisk in 1888.
Congress Overrides Presidential Vetoes
Congress overrides Presidential vetoes to pass the first, second, and third Reconstruction Acts, ushering in the period known as Radical Reconstruction, during which the governments of all Southern States, except Tennessee, are declared invalid and the states are broken up into military districts overseen by federal troops.
Black Voters Push Republicans to Victory
The first election in the District of Columbia to include black voters results in a victory for the Republican ticket. Similar results are repeated in other areas of the country, where blacks are granted the franchise. These elections also produce new black political leaders.
Howard Becomes Premier Education Institution
Congress charters Howard University, named after General Oliver O. Howard, Commissioner of the Freeman Bureau and the college’s first president. Howard becomes a premier education institution in the black community and plays an important role in civil rights history. It is here that Thurgood Marshall earns his law degree.
Black Americans Not Truly Free, But Granted Right to Vote
Some experts have argued that Reconstruction laid the foundation for the organization of new segregated institutions, white supremacist ideologies, legal rationalizations, extra-legal violence and everyday racial terror – further widening the racial divide among blacks and whites. Others have pointed out that the end of the war left black Americans free but their status undetermined, with the passing of codes to prevent black people from being truly free. But eventually, under the 14th amendment, African American men were granted the right to vote.
Tennessee Establishes Anti-Equality Government
Tennessee is the first of many Southern states to establish an all-white, Democratic Redeemer government sympathetic to the cause of the former Confederacy and against racial equality.
Equal Rights Leader Assassinated
National Equal Rights League leader, Octavius V. Catto, is assassinated by a white man attempting to discourage black voting in a key Philadelphia election. Catto’s funeral is the largest public funeral in Philadelphia since Lincoln’s and his death is mourned in black communities throughout the country.
Civil Rights Act Passes
The last U.S. Congress of the 19th century with bi-racial Senate and House passes the Civil Rights Act of 1875. The law protects all Americans, regardless of race, in their access to public accommodations and facilities such as restaurants, theaters, trains and other public transportation, and grants the right to serve on juries. However, the law is not enforced, and the Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional in 1883.
Mississippi Votes in Redeemers
Whites in Mississippi vote in a Redeemer government and more than 20 African Americans are killed in the Clinton Massacre.
Hayes-Tilden Election - Most Divisive Until 2020
Both political parties participated in rampant fraud, something that is very rare today, but was pretty common in that time. Republicans allowed repeat votes, and threw away Democratic ballots, and Democrats intimidated Black voters to keep them from the polls. The eventual compromise in 1877 was disastrous for Blacks, with consequences extending to the present day.
Mississippi Republican Ends Senate Term
Blanche K Bruce, Mississippi Republican, ends his term in the U.S. Senate. He is the last black to serve in the Senate until Edward Brooke, Massachusetts Republican, in 1967. With Reconstruction replaced with segregation, voting rights for blacks cease in many areas and greatly curtailed in others.
Ida B. Wells Barnett Begins Campaign Against Lynching
Ida B. Wells Barnett begins her campaign against the lynching of blacks, a common practice by white racists and the Klan to instill fear in the black community. She later writes Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and becomes a tireless worker for women’s suffrage.
Plessy vs. Ferguson Establishes Separate, But Equal Doctrine
Supreme Court establishes Separate, But Equal Doctrine with Plessy vs. Ferguson. This law enables the expansion of growing segregation or “Jim Crow” practices across America, with many states codifying segregation in state constitutions and local laws and ordinances.
U.S. Knight Riders Terrorize African Americans and Washington
The recession of the late 19th century hit the US. Knight riders went out in the dark, burning the homes of African Americans who bought their own land. They rode up to Washington to demand change as southern white Democrats rolled back many of the albeit limited freedoms from Reconstruction just a couple of decades before.