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After emancipation, former slaves throughout the South articulated their hopes and expectations for full citizenship. In this letter to the newly created Freedmen's Bureau, a group of African-Americans in Virginia list the economic and social needs of their community, and request assistance in finding homes. Joseph R. Johnson, a white notherner…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1865

This excerpt from Freedom's Unfinished Revolution describes the Union Army's decision to distributed abandoned plantation lands to former slaves during the Civil War. The excerpt also explains the problems freedpeople encountered after President Andrew Johnson decided that former plantation owners should be able to have their lands back.

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Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Date: 1996

In the chaotic last days of the Civil War, newly emancipated slaves were on the move across the South. Some had escaped bondage by joining Union military forces and following them; others were attempting to reunite with lost family members. Most had only the clothes on their backs. In March 1865 Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1865

Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery, before the Civil War had ended. Once the war was over, white southerners passed laws (known as Black Codes) to keep freedmen from exercising their rights, and Congress responded by passing a Civil Rights Act in 1866 to ensure black citizenship. Congress overrode President…

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Item Type: Laws/Court Cases
Date: 1865

On January 6, 1865, General William T. Sherman issued Special Field Order #15, which gave millions of acres of land along the Atlantic coast to emancipated slaves, in lots of not more than 40 acres per family. In March 1865, Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania proposed that all planter lands in the former Confederacy be confiscated and…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1865

In 1876, using the Mississippi Plan as their model, the Democratic Party in South Carolina organized a chilling campaign of violence to steal the election for governor. Their strategy, excerpted below, succeeded with the election of former Confederate General Wade Hampton. Items 2 and 16 appeared in a first draft of the plan and were marked…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1876

This series of worksheets accompanies the activity "New Liberties and New Threats During Reconstruction." The worksheets feature primary sources and descriptions that have been edited for different reading levels, as well as scaffolded questions.

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Item Type: Worksheet
Date: 2010

This activity features differentiation and scaffolding to help students understand the new social freedoms and new threats to the families of freedmen during Reconstruction. Students work in heterogeneous skill-level groups to analyze several primary sources and prepare to write a paragraph about freedmen's new social freedoms. The activity in…

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Item Type: Teaching Activity
Date: 2010

This worksheet helps students match primary source documents with three historical understandings for Reconstruction. It is used as a part of the activity "Create a Magic Lantern Show," but it can be used on its own to help students classify Reconstruction documents.

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Item Type: Worksheet
Date: 2010

Led by the self-styled “best men” of the South—planters, generals, lawyers and doctors—terrorist organizations like the White League and the Ku Klux Klan and paramilitary groups organized with the Democratic Party, led a campaign of violence and intimidation against freedmen and their white allies. Their targets were not…

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Item Type: Quantitative Data
Date: 1868