Historical Timeline

Presidents #11 – #20 (1845-1881)


1845; #11. James K Polk11.James K. Polk

11/2/1795 – 6/15/1849

Party: Democratic

Timeline; 1845-1849

Polk had an interest in politics and practiced law early on, being admitted to the bar in 1820. He served On Tennessee’s House of Representative’s 6th district (1825-1833) and 9th district (1833-1839) as well as becoming the speaker of the house (1835-1839), before moving on to Governor of Tennessee (1839-1841), failing to win the spot again in 41′ and 43′ prompted him to move to Washington. He was the only president to ever have served as House Speaker, as well as Governor of Tennessee. Polk was the dark horse candidate for president, surprisingly defeating Henry Clay by promising to annex Texas. His nickname was “Young Hickory” because of his close association with “Old Hickory”, Andrew Jackson.


  • James K. Polk becomes eleventh President of the United States at the age of 49. George M. Dallas is his Vice President
  • The Great Irish Potato shortage forces huge waves of immigrants to United States
  • Polk orders General Taylor to the Rio Grande in case of Mexican invasion
  • Manifest Destiny becomes a label to justify expanding the United Sates
  • Texas (slave) becomes the 28th state of the Union
  • U.S. Naval Academy formed


  • Brigham Young leads Mormon migration to Utah
  • Congress declares war on Mexico after the clash at Rio Grande

1846; mexican american war




1846; Battle for mexico city



1848; CA gold rush


1848; treaty of guadalupe hidalgo


  • Wisconsin (free) becomes the 30th state of the Union
  • John Q. Adams is laid to rest in Quincy, VA

1848; John Q. Adams tomb

Scholars have ranked Polk favorably on lists of greatest presidents for his ability to promote, obtain support for, and achieve all of the major items on his presidential agenda. Polk is the least known president, that had a strong significance of the United States and in doing so, held true to his campaign, even pledged to only serve one term as President, Polk left office and returned to Tennessee in March 1849. He died of cholera three months later.

Famous quotes:

“No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.”

“Peace, plenty, and contentment reign throughout our borders, and our beloved country presents a sublime moral spectacle to the world.”

“One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights.”


1849; #12. zach taylor12. Zachary Taylor

11/24/1784 – 7/9/1850

Party: Whig

Timeline; 1849-1850

Taylor enlisted in the Army in 1806 and was commissioned first lieutenant of the infantry in 1808. He served for almost 40 years, going through the War of 1812, Blackhawk War (1832) and the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) where he reached the rank of brigadier general, eventually advancing to major general in 1846 for the Mexican-American War, where he was most known for disobeying President Polk’s orders and taking his diminished army south for the Battle of Buena Vista where he won a victory even though he and his men were outnumbered 4-1. “Old Rough and Ready”, as his soldiers called him, was put on the ballot in 1848 for the fame he received as general and national hero.


  • Zachary Taylor becomes 12th President of the United States at the age of 64. Millard Filmore was his Vice President.
  • James K. Polk is laid to rest in Nashville, TN

1849; James K. POLK TOMB


1850; President Taylor dies of cholera morbus and is buried in Louisville, KY

1850; Zach taylor tomb


Though Taylor had a short Presidency, his legacy stood tall from his acts as General. His last few months in Presidency were filled with debates over the possible expansion of slavery in the territories won in the Mexican war. While the Compromise of 1850 was being discussed by Congress, Taylor stood firm against it, prepared to hold the Union together by force, rather than compromise.

Famous quotes;

“For more than half a century, during which kingdoms and empires have fallen, this Union has stood unshaken. The patriots who formed it have long since descended to the grave; yet still it remains, the proudest monument to their memory…”

“It eminently becomes a government like our own, founded on the morality and intelligence of its citizens and upheld by their affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before appealing to arms.”

“I have no private purpose to accomplish, no party objectives to build up, no enemies to punish—nothing to serve but my country.”

1850; #13 millard fillmore13. Millard Fillmore

1/7/1800 – 3/8/1874

Party: Whig

Timeline; 1850-1853

Fillmore started work in a law office at an early age, being admitted to the bar in 1823. Entering politics in 1828, he served in the New York assembly (1829-1832) and eventually won a spot in congress as New York’s 32nd district representative (1833-1835) and again (1837-1843). Then he went on to be the first comptroller of New York (1848-1849) before he was put on the ballot with General Taylor as Taylor’s Vice President which he served from 1848 until Taylor’s passing in 1850, where he took over office during the Crisis of 1850.


  • Fillmore is sworn in at the age of 50 after Taylor’s untimely death. He becomes the 13th President of the Union
  • California (free) becomes the 31st state
  • Fillmore signs Fugitive Slave Act
  • Congress passes the Compromise of 1850, with Fillmore’s support
  • Fillmore names Brigham Young President of Mormon church, Young leads thousands from Illinois to Utah Valley


  • U.S. ratifies first commercial treaty with El Salvador
  • First installment of Uncle Tom’s Cabin comes out, which some believe is a book that helped raise tensions into the Civil War era
  • Gold is found in Oregon along the Rogue River prompting thousands to go.

1851; rogue river oregon gold rush






  • Fillmore sent the Navy to force Japan into trade talks
  • The territory of Washington is formed after its separation from the Oregon territory
  • Congress authorizes Transcontinental railroad survey

Fillmore’s insistence on federal enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 alienated the North and helped lead him to being the last Whig President, and the last President that didn’t fall under Democrat or Republican. Fillmore approved the Compromise of 1850, allowing slavery in the South. But neither North nor South were happy with it, and Fillmore was blamed for the law’s failure which is why he only served that one term, although he did run again in 1856 for the anti-immigrant “Know-Nothing Party“, which he lost. He retired to Buffalo, becoming a leader in the city’s civic and cultural life. With his health on a decline, he died in 1874 due to the aftereffects of a stroke.

Famous Quotes:

“Nothing brings out the lower traits of human nature like office-seeking. Men of good character and impulses are betrayed by it into all sorts of meanness.”

“May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not.”

“Let us remember that revolutions do not always establish freedom. Our own free institutions were not the offspring of our Revolution. They existed before.”

1853; #14. franklin pierce14. Franklin Pierce

11/23/1804 – 10/8/1869

Party: Democratic

Timeline; 1853-1857

Pierce was studying law as his father was rising in political ranks, he joined his father’s campaign and helped him become governor in 1827. By 1833, the younger Pierce was elected to Congress as New Hampshire’s “at large” district representative where he stayed until moving to Senator
(1837-1842). After losing his seat he went back to practicing law where he was a success due to his popularity and outgoing personality, but eventually he had to take part in the Mexican–American War (1847-1848) when he was summoned to lead as a brigadier general in the Army in the assault on Mexico City but arrived too late for the final battle where he suffered minor wounds and embarrassment when his horse badly stumbled and he fainted and fell. He had to be hoisted back into the saddle to ride out too late for the climactic Battle of Chapultepec. After the war Pierce retired back to his successful law firm until he was called back out of New Hampshire.

1853; battle-chapultepec





1854; GADSDEN purchase


  • A guerilla war between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers emerges and consumes Kansas for two years, dubbed “Bleeding Kansas”

1854; bleeding kansas


  • The Canadian Reciprocity Treaty opens the U.S. market to Canadian agricultural products. In return, the United States gets new commercial rights in Canadian waters and on the Great Lakes
  • Coinciding with the further disintegration of the Whig Party, the Republican Party is founded. Its membership is composed of Whigs, Free-Soilers, and northern Democrats angry at the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
  • The Ostend Manifesto, written by U.S. minister to Spain; Pierre Soule suggests that the United States threaten to invade Cuba if Spain is not willing to sell the island to the United States. The State Department disavows any connection to the document and forces Soule’s resignation later that year.


  • In congressional elections, the Whigs continue to decline in power while Democrats also suffer losses. The Republican Party has yet to prove its ability to contest the Democrats but boasts impressive gains through cooperation with the American Party. Forty-four Republicans are elected to the House of Representatives.


  • Nationality Laws change so that children born abroad by American citizens, were in fact American citizens themselves.
  • Anti-slavery settlers in Kansas form an army they called Free State Forces and write the Topeka Constitution, which creates a second government in Kansas.
  • Border ruffians invade Lawrence, Kansas starting the Wakarusa War but they are chased off by the Free State Forces.


  • Pro-slavery and Border Ruffians attack Lawrence again.
  • Sumner-Brooks affair occurs
  • In response to the pro-slavery invasion of Lawrence, some Free State Forces conduct the Pottawatomie Massacre, killing five unarmed pro-slavery Kansans along the Pottawatomie Creek.


  • Bleeding Kansas” continues to rage; hundreds killed and a lot of homes burnt down,


  • State of disunion convention is held Massachusetts to peacefully separate North and South.
  • Congress determines foreign coins are not legal tender in the states.

You wouldn’t know by looking at him because of his outgoing demeanor but his family life was a very grim affair, his wife Jane suffer from illness and depression for much of her life and all of their children died young, their last son was killed in a train accident while the family was traveling, shortly before Pierce’s inauguration. His polarizing actions in championing and signing the Kansas–Nebraska Act and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act failed to settle differences between North and South, setting the stage for Southern secession. Pierce signed the Gadsden Purchase of land from Mexico and led a failed attempt to acquire Cuba from Spain. He signed trade treaties with Britain and Japan, while his Cabinet reformed their departments and improved accountability, but these successes were overshadowed by political strife as his administration was further damaged when several of his diplomats issued the Ostend Manifesto, calling for the annexation of Cuba, a document which was roundly criticized. Pierce, who had been a heavy drinker for much of his life, died of severe cirrhosis of the liver in 1869. US historians and other political commentators generally rank Pierce’s presidency among the worst.

Famous quotes:

“We have nothing in our history or position to invite aggression; we have everything to beckon us to the cultivation of relations of peace and amity with all nations.”

“The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution.”

“I wish I could indulge higher hope for the future of our country, but the aspect of any vision is fearfully dark and I cannot make it otherwise.”

1857; #15 JAMES BUCHANON15. james Buchanan

4/23/1791 – 6/1/1868

Party: Democratic

Timeline; 1857-1861

Buchanon studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1812 where he established a successful law practice, getting into politics shortly after where he was on the Pennsylvania house of representatives (1814-1816) and U.S. house of representatives for Pennsylvania’s 3rd district (1821-1823), and the 4th district (1823-1831) where he became the chairman of the house (1829-1831). He also help positions as Minister to Russia (1832-1833), Senator of Pennsylvania (1834-1845), Secretary of State (1845-1849) and Minister to the U.K. (1853-1856). He was the only bachelor to ever serve in the White House.


1857; mountain meadow massacre


  • Kansas elects Free-state legislature while pro-slavery advocates try to bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state. Lecompton constitution (Brittanica) is under discussion.



  • Comstock Lode is found in Nevada, becoming the first U.S. silver strike found



  • Oregon (free) becomes the 33rd state of the Union
  • Southern Commercial Convention kicks off where Southern slave owners try to bring back the African slave trade
  • Kansas constitutional convention is back in session to determine whether Kansas will be admitted as a free or slave state.
  • Kansas constitution ratified as an anti-slavery state
  • John Brown’s Harper’s Ferry raid in Virginia in effort to establish abolitionist Republic in the Appalachians but he is caught and hanged for treason to the state. The brute force used to remove their threat divides the North and South states even further.

1859; john brown hanging



  • Republicans gain control of Senate as well as regain the House, controlling Congress
  • Lincoln gives the Cooper Union address
  • Lincoln is elected President
  • Crittenden Compromise is put forth as a last attempt to persuade the Southern States from leaving the Union
  • South Carolina secedes from the Union
  • Buchanan gives his final message calling the Union a sacred trust


  • Mississippi secedes from the Union
  • Florida secedes from the Union
  • Alabama secedes from the Union
  • Georgia secedes from the Union
  • Louisiana secedes from the Union
  • Kansas joins the Union as a free state
  • The confederacy is formed and Jefferson Davis is elected President with Alexander Stephens as his Vice President.
  • Montgomery, Alabama is named Capital of the Confederacy
  • Texas secedes from the Union
  • Confederate Flag; Stars and Bars, is created

1861; stars and bars


Buchanan tried in vain to find a compromise to keep the South from seceding from the Union, but failed. His reputation during his years in retirement where Congress, the Republican Party, President Lincoln, the U.S. military, and national newspapers all ridiculed his handling of the Fort Sumter crisis and his failure to prevent the secession of Southern states. The Senate even drafted a resolution to condemn Buchanan. In fact, to prevent the defacing of Buchanan’s portrait, it had to be removed from the Capitol rotunda. Buchanan vigorously defended his presidency and died confident in the belief that posterity would vindicate him and redeem his reputation.

Famous quotes:

“There is nothing stable but Heaven and the Constitution.”

“The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among freemen.”

The test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.”

1861; #16. abraham lincoln16. Abraham Lincoln

2/12/1809 – 4/15/1865

Party: Republican

Timeline; 1861-1865

Lincoln lived a quiet life working various traits. He volunteered in the Illinois Mafia and shortly after was elected captain in the Black Hawk War (1832). After the war he aspired to be a legislator but kept falling short, although he did hold a position on the Illinois House of Representatives (1834-1842) he also studied law where he passed his bar exam (1836) and started practicing. While working in the legal field, he worked for the Illinois Central Railroad (and sued them for his pay) as well as handled many other cases for other railroads, banks, insurance companies, and manufacturing firms. He also served on the U.S house of representatives (1847-1849). One of his finest accomplishments that helped solidify his fame as a lawyer was saving the Rock Island Bridge (1857) from the threat of the Mississippi river transportation interests, that demanded the bridge’s removal. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War, which was its bloodiest and an event often considered its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy. His administration setup the Confiscation Acts through the war (1861-1864) liberating slaves in seceded states.

1861; lincoln black hawk war



  • Lincoln becomes the 16th President of the United States at the age of 52. Hannibal Hamlin was his Vice President.
  • The Confederate Congress unanimously adopt the Confederate Constitution
  • Jefferson Davis wanted Fort Sumter surrendered to the Confederacy since it was on South land. Negotiations failed
  • Confederate President Davis orders General P.G.T. Beauregard to open fire on federal
    arsenal in response to Lincoln trying to resupply Fort Sumter; one of the last federal stations remaining in the South.
  • Lincoln calls for 70+ thousand volunteers to join the U.S. Army as militia men against the rebellion
  • Lincoln declares an insurrection, marking the beginning of the bloodiest war in America history; The U.S. Civil War

1861; civil war


  • In response to Lincoln’s decision to use force in South Carolina, Virginia secedes from the Union
  • Lincoln orders a blockade of Confederate ports to disrupt the importation of supplies to the Confederacy
  • Arkansas secedes from the Union
  • House of Representatives pass the Morrill Tariff Act to help pay for the war
  • North Carolina secedes from the Union
  • The capital of the Confederacy moves from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia since Virginia had the higher population
  • Tennessee secedes from the Union
  • The Battle of Bull Run takes place near Manassas, Virginia. Confederate General Beauregard defeats the Union forces under General Irvin McDowell.

1861; 2nd battle of bull


1861; civil war begins


  • Union offers $100 bonus to volunteers offering two years of service to the U.S. Army
  • General Winfield Scott retires as head of the Union army, Lincoln promotes General George B. McClellan


1862; battle of virginia and monitor


  • Secretary of the treasury under Lincoln, Salmon P. Chase passes the Legal Tender Act and issues 150 million “greenbacks”, ordering that “In God We Trust” be printed on them to encourage people to accept money at face value.
  • Former President Tyler is laid to rest in Richmond, VA



  • Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia
  • Major General David Hunter organizes the first set of black troops that were former slaves. Confederates threaten they will execute captured black troops and Lincoln responds they will execute a confederate soldier for every black troop executed.
  • Former President Van Buren is laid to rest in Kinderhook, NY

1862; martin-van-buren-tomb


1862; 2ND battle of bull RUN


1862; battle-of-antietam




  • General Lee invades the North in attempt to isolate Washington D.C. but fails. McClellan does not chase after the retreating Lee, frustrating President Lincoln and causing him to remove McClellan from command.
  • Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, to go into effect the following year where all Confederate and opposing state’s slaves were considered Free men. Union state slaves were not included in this.

1862; emancipation proclamation



  • Union ironclad Monitor sinks off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina




  • Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect, making black slaves in the South “forever free”. It did not include occupied portions of the South like parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and Louisiana, nor the loyal slave states, just rebellion portions.
  • The Battle of Murfreesboro occurs

1863; battle-murfreesboro


  • Salmon P. Chase orchestrates the first income tax in 1863.
  • Congress passes Conscription law, requiring military service, or draftees can pay $300 to hire a substitute, which angers some, referring to that as “aristocracy legislation.”
  • Battle of Chancellorsville takes place where Stonewall Jackson is wounded by his own troops, requiring his arm to be amputated, short time later, dying from pneumonia. General Lee wins the battle and it is dubbed a brilliant victory, prompting him to invade the North again.

1863; battle-of-chancellorsville


  • Richmond Bread Riot takes place, becoming largest civil disobedience for the Confederacy
  • West Virginia becomes the 35th state of the Union (Although Southern states seceded from the Union, Lincoln still counted them as Federal property, knowing they would not give up the fight to unify them all again)
  • On Lee’s way to invade the North again and try to take Washington D.C., General George G. Meade (whom replaced McClellan) accidentally ran into him in Gettysburg, staging the biggest engagement of the Civil War with the Battle of Gettysburg.

1863; battle of gettysburg


  • Lee makes huge mistake sending General George Picket and 15,000 men on a suicidal run of Cemetery Ridge, causing Lee and his men to retreat. Meade does not pursue, frustrating Lincoln.



  • General Ulysses S. Grant captures Vicksburg, Mississippi, a confederate stronghold. Shortly after, Lincoln promotes Grant as his Lieutenant General.
  • Angry over the draft, rioters in New York protest the conscription act prompting Lincoln to send troops from Gettysburg to end the fighting in New York
  • Lincolns makes the Gettysburg address on the bloodstained battlefield and dedicates a National cemetery for it.
  • Lincoln offers pardons to those in the South that take the oath and come back to the Union.

1863; gettysburg address



1864; grant invasion


  • Lincoln opens peace negotiations and sends Horace Greeley to Canada to meet with Davis’s emissaries but without proper authority there, negotiations fail.
  • Democrats deem the war a failure and nominate General McClellan as their candidate to run against Lincoln for his 2nd term.
  • Confederates under General John Hood evacuate Atlanta Georgia as Union forces led by General William Tecumseh Sherman come in to occupy the city. Sherman, being a close friend to General Grant, used Grant’s same tactics of total warfare to occupy areas of the Atlanta Campaign
  • Nevada becomes the 36th state of the Union
  • Following decisive Union victories by Admiral Farragut in Alabama and General Sherman in Atlanta, Abraham Lincoln is reelected as President of the United States, with Andrew Johnson as his new Vice President. He chose Johnson, a racist and uneducated Southerner from Tennessee, to balance the ticket.
  • Salmon P. Chase is appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after his Legal Tender Act of 1862 helped keep the nation out of financial ruin.


  • House approves the Thirteenth Amendment, with Lincoln’s influence.
  • Confederate Congress gives Robert E. Lee full command of Confederate Army
  • Federal Congress creates Freedmen’s Bureau to help Southern blacks affected
    by the war
  • Confederate Congress approves recruitment of 300,000 slaves for military involvement. President Davis declares that all volunteers and their families would be given freedom
  • Richmond, Virginia is evacuated
  • Union forces capture Confederate’s much-needed supplies at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, prompting Confederate General Robert E. Lee to surrender to General Grant, marking the end of the Civil War.

1865; lee surrenders to grant


  • 5 days after the conclusion of the war, President Lincoln was shot in the head at Ford’s theater by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, dying the following morning.

1865; The-Assassination-of-Abrham-Lincoln-print-full-color

John Wilkes booth had accomplices who were supposed to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and General Ulysses S. Grant but Booth was the only one to follow through. The accomplices were hanged for taking part in the plot or having known about it in advance and doing nothing. Booth was discovered in a barn in Virginia by the Army and Secret Service but as they attempted to capture Booth, the barn was set on fire and Booth either shot himself or was killed in a shoot-out trying to flee.

1865; conspirators-hanged


Lincoln’s death stunned the country and wiped away any celebration that was to come of the ending of the Civil War. Polls show that Lincoln is the most admired President. Lincoln is the face of the five-dollar bill, and the penny. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was made dedicated to him, as well as his face being one of the 4 on Mount Rushmore

1865; lincoln memorial


1865; mount rushmore


Famous quotes:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

1865; #17. andrew johnson17. Andrew Johnson

12/29/1808 – 7/31/1875

Party: National Union

Timeline; 1865-1869

Before running with Lincoln, Johnson served in the U.S. house of representatives (1843-1853), was the governor of Tennessee (1853-1857) and in the Tennessee Senate (1875). As Southern slave states, including Tennessee, seceded to form the Confederate States of America, Johnson remained firmly with the Union. He was the only sitting senator from a Confederate state who did not resign his seat upon learning of his state’s secession.


  • At the age of 56, Johnson becomes the 17th President of the United States after Lincoln’s assassination.
  • Johnson declares that terms agreed on between Union General Sherman and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston were too lenient to the Confederates. Johnston surrenders to Sherman later, on harsher terms
  • Johnson issues a proclamation offering rewards for the arrests of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Jacob Thompson, and Clement C. Clay, Jr.
  • After Lincoln’s funeral train departs D.C. for Illinois, D.C. celebrates the Civil War win as Johnson presides over a series of reviews from the Army of Potomac and Army of Tennessee

1865; lincoln-funeral


  • Johnson appoints provisional governors of the South to look over his reconstruction plans
  • Lincoln is laid to rest in Springfield, IL

1865; abraham-lincolns-tomb


  • Mississippi enacts a Black Code which restricts newly won rights of African Americans in attempts to still keep them inferior. Other ex-Confederate states do the same.
  • Johnson orders provisional governors to hand over their positions to the elected successors. Newly elected government are filled with numerous ex-Confederate officials.


  • Johnson vetoes a bill calling for the extension of the Freedmen’s Bureau. The bill is a response to the black codes of the South and would expand the power of the Bureau, the organization formed for the freedmen’s protection.

1866; freedmans bureau

  • Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act, a second attempt by Congress to provide freedmen with federal citizenship after the failed Freedmen’s Bureau bill, but The Senate overrides Johnson’s veto and three days later, the House of Representatives overrides it as well.
  • The Fenian Raid and the Battle of Ridgeway in Canada takes place between Canadian militiamen and members of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish-American organization lobbying for a free Ireland. Many of the Fenian participants are Civil War veterans.

1866; fenian raids


  • Congress passes and sends the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, to the states for ratification. Not only does the amendment seek to prevent ex-Confederates from holding office, it also establishes the citizenship of African Americans, affirming that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The amendment, when passed, will overturn the Dred Scott decision of 1857.
  • Congress readmits Tennessee to the Union after the state ratifies the Fourteenth Amendment


  • Nebraska becomes 37th state in the Union
  • Despite Johnson’s veto, Congress passes the First Reconstruction Act as well as the Army Appropriations Act. Congress also passes, over Johnson’s veto, the Tenure of Office Act, prohibiting Johnson from removing cabinet officers without the Senate’s consent.
  • Johnson vetoes the Seconds Reconstruction Act but Congress overrides that too.
  • Johnson vetoes the Third Reconstruction Act, but again, Congress overrides it.


  • Johnson and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton disagree on Southern Reconstruction,
    Stanton refuses to resign at Johnson’s request so Johnson suspends him and promotes Ulysses S. Grant as interim Secretary of War.


  • Johnson submits his reasons for suspending Stanton to the Senate but the Senate refuses to concur
  • Grant informs Johnson that he will vacate his spot for Stanton per the Senate
  • Former President Buchanan is laid to rest in Lancaster, PA

1868; buchanan tomb


  • Johnson removes Stanton and gives control of the War Department to General Lorenzo Thomas but Stanton barricades himself in his cabinet office for a couple months. Johnson’s actions violate the Tenure of Office Act and begin the impeachment crisis.
  • The House appoints seven managers to go before the Senate with eleven articles of impeachment. Eight of these articles relate to the Tenure of Office Act and the removal of Secretary of War Stanton.
  • Senate begins impeachment trials
  • The Senate votes 35-19 to convict President Johnson, falling one vote short of the necessary two-third majority. Seven moderate Republicans vote against impeachment. The vote serves as a precedent for standard necessary to convict in impeachment hearings.
  • The Senate votes to acquit President Johnson on impeachment charges two and three. The Senate then adjourns and fails to vote on the remaining eight articles of impeachment.
  • President Johnson vetoes bills that would have readmitted several ex-Confederate states to the Union. Congress overrides these vetoes.
  • Johnson submits the Burlingame Treaty between the United States and China
  • President Johnson delivers his final annual message to Congress, again requesting the repeal of the Reconstruction Acts.

Succeeding Lincoln, Johnson found himself in bitter battles with Congress over Reconstruction. Congress tried to impeach him and he was tried by the Senate, but was acquitted by one vote. After Presidency he won another seat on the Senate in 1875 but died later that year due to complications of multiple strokes.

Famous quotes;

“Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide”

“There are no good laws but such as repeal of other laws”

“I am sworn to uphold the Constitution as Andy Johnson understands
it and interprets it”


1869; #18. ulysses s grant18. Ulysses S. Grant

4/27/1822 – 7/23/1885

Party: Republican

Timeline; 1869-1877

Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant, but an error on his application to West Point changed his name to Ulysses Simpson Grant. He liked the initials so much that he kept the name. Not only was Grant the top Union military hero of the Civil War era (1861-1869), before that, he played a big part in the Mexican-American war era (1839-1854) under both General Taylor, and later General Scott.


  • Grant becomes the 18th President of the United States at the age of 46. Schuyler Colfax was his Vice President.
  • Former President Pierce is laid to rest in Concord, NH






  • Construction of the Brooklyn Bridge begins



  • Grants vetoes Private relief bill
  • Virginia is readmitted to the Union after completing reconstruction
  • U.S. Weather bureau is established
  • Mississippi is readmitted to the Union after completing reconstruction
  • Texas is readmitted to the Union after completing reconstruction
  • Fifteenth Amendment ratified
  • Congress makes it a federal crime to interfere with voting as a first Enforcement Act to prevent people from stopping blacks from voting.
  • Congress creates a Department of Justice, reporting to Attorney General


  • Federal Election Law passes as the second Enforcement Act to prevent people from stopping blacks from voting.



  • Indian Appropriation Act is passed
  • Treaty of Washington passes
  • Ku Klux Klan Act is passed to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment in
    the South and suppress Klan activities. It was the third, and strongest
    Enforcement Act to prevent people from interfering with Blacks voting.
  • City of Chicago is nearly burned to the ground, the rise of skyscrapers comes from the reconstruction

1871; GreatChicagoFire


  • Grant issues a proclamation against KKK in South Carolina


  • Grant vetoes Private Pension Bill
  • Henry Wilson runs as Grant’s VP for re-election


  • The House of Representatives investigates the relations of Credit Mobilier and the Union Pacific Railroad as a scandal surfaces in which UPR directors used the Credit Mobilier to pay themselves from the Railroad Treasury. Additionally, they had bribed congressmen to avoid an investigation. Thirteen Senators were involved, although only two received censure.

1873; credit mobilier scandal


  • Coinage act passed, also know as the “Crime of 73
  • Congress passes appropriations Bill, raising senior government salaries with 2 years back paid… also known as the salary grab bill.
  • Grant starts 2nd term with Henry Wilson as the new VP
  • The failure of brokerage firm Jay Cooke & Company starts the
    Panic of 1873
  • A Spanish cruiser captures the U.S. ship, the Virginius, thinking that it was sent to provide armaments for an invasion. Before Spain’s can order instructions not to impose the death penalty , fifty-three of the men captured on the ship were executed. Tensions were calmed when Secretary of State Fish and the Spanish minister to the United States signed an agreement providing for the return of the remaining prisoners and the payment of an indemnity.




  • The salary grab bill is repealed
  • Former President Fillmore is laid to rest in Buffalo, NY

1874; fillmore tomb




  • Grant issues a proclamation calling for the dispersal of the rebellious “White League” in Louisiana. Grant sends five thousand troops and three gunboats to New Orleans; the resistance ends two days later, although, Grant and the Republicans were criticized for the intervention in the Battle of Liberty Place

1874; battle of liberty place



1875; johnson tomb


  • Two-hundred thirty-eight people are indicted in connection with
    the “Whiskey Ring Scandal,” in which distillers conspired with Treasury
    Department officials to defraud the government of millions of dollars
    in liquor taxes.
  • VP Henry Wilson dies
  • Grant signs the Civil Rights Act of 1875, guaranteeing blacks
    equal rights in public places and prohibiting the exclusion of blacks
    from jury duty


  • General George A. Custer and 265 men of the Seventh Cavalry are
    killed in a battle with Sitting Bull’s Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn



  • Colorado is admitted to the Union as the 38th state
  • Presidential election result is inconclusive, a team is put together to look at the electoral votes


  • Ohio Republicans and Southern Democrats meet in D.C. to forge the
    Compromise of 1877
  • Senate and House accept the report from the electoral commission.

Grant had a solid two terms even though they were marred with scandals. He would have won a third had he ran but he showed no interest. After office, he and his wife Julia traveled around the world before settling in New York to run a business and write his memoirs, which he signed a contract with his friend Mark Twain to complete. Grant died in 1885 after battling with throat cancer.

Famous quotes;

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.

Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor.

1877; #19. rutherford b hayes19. Rutherford B. Hayes

10/4/1822 – 1/17/1893

Party: Republican

Timeline; 1877-1881

Hayes was an attorney and city solicitor of Cincinnati (1858-1861) but when the Civil War began he left politics to join the Union Army, as an officer. He was wounded a few different times, the worst being the Battle of South Mountain (1862) where he earned a reputation for bravery in combat and earned the rank of major general. After the war he went back to politics and served in the U.S. Congress (1865-1867) and then as Governor of Ohio on two separate occasions (1868-1872, 1876-1877).




  • Hayes becomes the 19th President of the United States at the age
    of 54. He secures only 48 percent of the popular vote and 164 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184. However, voter fraud and unclear results are reported in several states. A controversial decision of a special electoral commission ultimately proclaims Hayes President, with some Democrats referring to Hayes as “Rutherfraud.”
  • In return for the presidency, the Republicans make various concessions, including the removal of federal troops from the South in what was known as the Compromise of 1877 or the Great Betrayal as African-Americans referred to it as.
  • Troops depart the statehouse in South Carolina following a meeting at the White House.
  • As in South Carolina, Hayes officially withdraws soldiers from Louisiana. Governor Packard has no choice but to submit, declaring, “One by one, the Republican
    state governments of the South have been forced to succumb to force, fraud or policy.” Hayes’s withdrawal of troops from the South marks the end of Reconstruction.

1877; reconstructing the nation

  • Hayes sends troops to patrol the nearly lawless Mexican border and cross it if necessary to pursue bandits. Mexican president Diaz protests and sends troops to the border as well. Ultimately, economic concerns motivate both parties to work towards a settlement.
  • Hayes issues an Executive Order that forbids the involvement of federal employees in political activities. The President takes such action in the hope that it will curtail corruption; the Executive Order stipulates that those in office can no longer be dismissed for political reasons. Congress rejects additional proposals. These events testify to Hayes’s interest in civil service reform.
  • The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 begins on the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) line at Camden Junction, Maryland; additional strikes will follow, lasting a month, but lacking organization, the strikes frequently degenerate into mob activity. Hayes sends federal troops to protect mail and quell the riots that take place in numerous cities, angering many workers.

1877; great railroad strike



  • Founded in 1869 by Uriah S. Stephens, a tailor in Philadelphia, the Knights of Labor is
    established as a national organization. It is the first labor union to attempt to organize all workers and hopes to establish a worker-owned factory system.
  • A U.S.-Samoan treaty is signed in Washington which gives the United States the right to establish a naval and coaling station at the port of Pago Pago; it also pledges American assistance to Samoa if a third country interferes with Samoan chiefs. The Senate ratifies the treaty



  • Hayes vetoes the Bland-Allison Act, advocated by farmers and debtors, but Congress passes the measure over his veto. The act calls for the resumption of silver coinage at a rate between $2 and $4 million per month.
  • Hayes vetoes a bill which bans incoming vessels from carrying more than fifteen Chinese passengers. Hayes then works to negotiate changes to the Burlingame Treaty with China in order to set limits on Chinese immigration.
  • America recognizes the Diaz regime in Mexico in an effort to avoid greater conflict.
  • House Democrats begin an investigation of the controversial presidential election of 1876, much to the chagrin of Hayes, who fears that the investigation may be an attempt to replace him with Tilden.
  • Following congressional midterm elections, the Democratic Party controls both houses of Congress for the first time since the Civil War. Consequently, Hayes will have little sway in Congress.


  • Hayes allows the resumption of gold payments for Civil War greenbacks, paper money not backed by specie, silver, or gold. This is a continuation of the Specie Act begun under President Grant. During the Hayes administration, as the government’s gold supply grows and the issuance of silver coins increases, the economy begins to recover. By the spring of 1879, the government has retired all Civil War bonds.
  • After a political struggle between Hayes and Senator Conkling, the Senate approves Hayes’s appointments for the New York Customhouse. Although these fail to end inefficiency in the civil service system, the country largely supports Hayes’s commitment to reform.
  • Congress passes the Army Appropriations Bill. The law includes a “rider” which forbids the use of federal troops at polls, which many regard as an attempt to nullify black
    voting rights. Hayes vetoes the bill, but the House sustains the veto. Hayes again vetoes the rebuffed version, and many Republicans feel the veto secures the election of 1880.
  • Hayes vetoes a version of the appropriations bill for the third time; a later bill excludes “certain judicial expenses” forbidding the army to “police the polls”; Hayes will agree to this language.
  • The appropriations designated by Democrats exclude implementation of election law funds; Hayes vetoes the bill.
  • In a speech to Congress, Hayes continues to support a Central American canal to unite the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

1880; The United States and China sign a treaty which repeals a section of the 1868 Burlingame treaty. The move gives the United States the power to “regulate, limit or suspend” but not completely prohibit Chinese immigration. The treaty also includes a clause banning the opium trade. In return, the United States grants China trading privileges.

Hayes kept his pledge not to run for re-election, retired to his home in Ohio, and became an advocate of social and educational reform. He died from complications after a heart attack.

Famous quotes;

“One of the tests of the civilization of people is the treatment of its criminals.” 
“He serves his party best who serves his country best.” 
“Do not let your bachelor ways crystallize so that you can’t soften them when you come to have a wife and a family of your own.”

1881; #20. james a garfield20. James A. Garfield

11/19/1831 – 9/19/1881

Party: Republican

Timeline; 1881

Garfield worked various jobs in his younger years entering politics in 1857. He served on the Ohio Senate
(1859-1861) and then joined the Union Army where he helped recruit the 42nd Ohio Volunteer infantry and became its colonel. After commanding a brigade at the Battle of Shiloh (1862) he served as chief of staff in the Army of Cumberland, where he was promoted to major general after his part in the Battle of Chickamauga (1863). He served on the U.S. house of representatives (1863-1880) where he also held titles as chairman on the house committees on Military affairs (1867-1869), Financial services (1869-1871) and Appropriations (1871-1875).

1881; Chickamauga


  • Garfield becomes the 20th President of the united States at the age of 49. Chester A. Arthur was his Vice president.
  • New York senators Roscoe Conkling and Tom Platt resign to protest
    Garfield’s removal of New York nominees to secure Robertson’s confirmation.
  • The Senate confirms Robertson as collector of customs for the port of New York.
  • Clara Barton organizes the American Association of the Red Cross, modeled after the International Red Cross, in Washington, D.C.
  • Charles J. Guiteau, a mentally unstable Stalwart attorney who had
    been denied a consular post, shoots Garfield in a Washington railroad
    station. “I am a stalwart,” Guiteau proclaims. “Arthur is now President
    of the United States.”

1881; Garfield_assassination


  • Established in 1880, the Normal School for Colored Teachers, now Tuskegee University, officially opens its doors in Tuskegee, Alabama.
  • President Garfield dies from blood poisoning and complications after surgeons search endlessly to find the lost bullet in Garfield’s back, lodged in his pancreas. He was laid to rest in Cleveland, OH



Garfield set out to reform the “spoils system” by which politicians gave their friends low-level political offices. He never paid a great deal of attention to securing himself, likening the possibility of being assassinated to the same chance of being struck by lightning; impossible to prevent, pointless to worry about. Even after he was shot he didn’t seem too concerned by those around him.

Famous quotes;

“If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written
upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.”

The truth will set you free, but first it will make you

History is philosophy teaching by example, and also warning;
its two eyes are geography and chronology.”


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