Skip to main content Skip to main content

A Biography of America


Professor Miller begins the program by evoking in word and picture the battlefield after the battle of Gettysburg. With the assassination of President Lincoln, one sad chapter of American history comes to a close. In the fatigue and cynicism of the Civil War's aftermath, Reconstructionism becomes a promise unfulfilled.

View Transcript

Enhanced Transcript Page 1

Program 12: Reconstruction

Donald L. Miller and Waldo E. Martin, Jr


Miller: The Civil War dragged to its awful and bloody end. The Union is preserved. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people — a government that protects its people’s freedoms.

Martin: After the war what did black people do? They move around, they don’t want to serve the master. The other thing they try to do is reconstitute the families.

Miller: The abandonment by the federal government…When does that start?

Martin: Traditionally, people mark 1877 as the end. The government, the federal government, is no longer involved trying to assist the transition to freedom.

Miller: As a nation rebuilds after the Civil War, what is lost? Today on A Biography of America, Reconstruction.

Enhanced Transcript Page 2

Casualties of Gettysburg

Miller: The worst sight in war is a battlefield after the battle. At Gettysburg, where there were 50,000 casualties, the scene was beyond belief. Two gigantic armies, Robert E. Lee’s army of 70,000 and George Gordon Meade’s army of 90,000, had fought the greatest battle of the Civil War in a college town of 2,500 residents. They shot the place, and each other, to pieces.

By the time George Pickett’s assault line had been torn to shreds in the battle’s terrible climax, even the buzzards had been driven off. Before Union soldiers left in pursuit of Lee’s shattered army, they buried as many of the dead as they could in shallow graves. But heavy rains washed away these thin blankets of earth, leaving heads and feet sticking out the ground. Mangled body parts were everywhere, and sun-blackened, swollen corpses were found by townspeople hidden behind rocks or in heavy underbrush.

[Picture of casualties from the battle]

Local families who went to Gettysburg after the battle, looking for their boys, found hands and arms in trees; boots with feet in them; bodies flattened into shapeless horrors by close-range artillery fire; headless men, leaning against trees, their arms shot off. If they came by train, they passed through the town to get to the battlefield. And virtually every house had been turned into a hospital in an effort to care for the 22,000 wounded men left behind by both armies. As stunned townspeople and grieving parents passed through this scene from hell, they must have asked themselves: What was this for? And was it worth it?

The Gettysburg Address

That summer, Abraham Lincoln himself was searching for some way to explain to the American people this frightful war, these staggering sacrifices. Not long after word reached Washington of the victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Lincoln spoke to a crowd outside the White House, telling them how fitting it was that these twin triumphs had occurred on the nation’s birthday. “How long ago is it,” he said. “Eighty odd years, since on the Fourth of July for the first time in the history of the world a nation by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth that ‘all men are created equal.'”

The war, he told the crowd, had begun as an effort to subvert that idea; and now the rebels had suffered two staggering defeats on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. “Gentlemen,” he concluded, “this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion.” Lincoln made that speech, the most memorable in American history, the following November.

[Picture of the crowd at the Gettysburg Address]

The occasion was the dedication of a cemetery for the Union soldiers killed at Gettysburg. In three minutes, in just 272 words, Lincoln explained what the war was about and why it had to continue. It was a fight, he said, to preserve and advance two fundamental American ideas: constitutional liberty and human equality. The nation created by the Constitution of 1787 was a permanent bond that could not be broken by a discontented minority.

As Lincoln had said, in private, two years before: “[the war] must settle this question… whether in a free government, the minority have the right to break up the government when they chose. If they fail, it will go far to prove the incapacity of the people to govern.”

At Gettysburg he reiterated this in soaring language. These men have died, and many more would die, he said, so that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” But what began as a struggle to preserve democracy, had become, as well, a war to ensure what Lincoln called a “new birth of freedom,” a government “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Lincoln did an amazing thing in his Gettysburg Address. He informally amended the Constitution, which tolerated slavery, pledging the nation to the idea of human equality embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Later in the war, when the country grew weary of the killing, Lincoln was pressured to drop emancipation as a condition of peace. He flatly refused.

[Picture of African American troops]

Over 130,000 African Americans were then fighting for the Union, and he would not “betray them,” he said. They were fighting for the promise of freedom. “And the promise made,” he said, “must be kept.” This is why Lincoln, along with generals Grant and Sherman, believed that the war would continue, and become even bloodier: because the South would never, on its own, eliminate slavery.

William Tecumseh Sherman put it more bluntly: “We have not yet killed enough,” he told another general. “We must make this war so fatal and horrible that a century will pass before…new traitors will dare to resort to violence and war to achieve their ends.”

Enhanced Transcript Page 3

The War Continues

After Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Southern armies were incapable of winning the war by a series of decisive blows. All they could do was fight a war of attrition, holding on until the Union presidential election in November, 1864. They hoped somehow that Lincoln would be defeated by a Peace Democrat willing to negotiate an end to the slaughter, and an armistice that would leave slavery and the Confederacy intact.

In the fall of 1863, this seemed highly unlikely. Union war morale was high when Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, and it soared even higher when Ulysses Grant was made General-in-Chief of all Union armies and was brought East in 1864 to finish off Robert E. Lee. While Grant went after Lee in Virginia, Sherman remained in the West and moved confidently toward Atlanta, the Confederacy’s largest city. But Lee put up a desperate fight in Virginia, taking and delivering the heaviest blows of the war.

There was no denying Grant, however. The bulldog-like Grant pushed Lee all the way to Richmond and Petersburg, a rail center just south of Richmond. Once there, however, he couldn’t punch through the ring of heavy fortifications Lee had erected around the two cities.

So he settled down, as he did at Vicksburg, for a siege. Only this one would last nine months, not 47 days. And it taxed heavily the patience of a public anxious for a quick end to the war.

Sherman also ran into problems. That August, his advance stalled in front of the earthen-works encircling Atlanta. And he, too, set up siege operations. It began to look, as it did in the winter of 1863, like the Confederacy couldn’t be beaten.

And civilians in the North read of casualties that totaled a staggering 110,000 in three previous months. “Stop the war!” Northern newspapers demanded; and on two separate occasions that summer, Lincoln agreed to secret peace negotiations with Confederate agents. Both meetings broke down when the rebels learned that Lincoln’s uncompromising conditions were restoration of the Union and the abolition of slavery. The South would accept neither.

A Re-Election, A March, and A Surrender

That August, the Democrats nominated former general George McClellan for President, and passed a platform calling for the immediate end of hostilities. A despondent Lincoln told his Cabinet he didn’t expect to win the election. “I’m going to be beaten… badly,” he told an army official, “unless some great change takes place.”

Well, that great change took place on September 2nd, when Sherman broke through and captured Atlanta. While Sherman occupied Atlanta, General Phil Sheridan, “Little Phil,” a pint-sized, ferociously aggressive fighter, smashed Confederate forces in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Lincoln was saved. That November he won a presidential election that had more riding on it than any other one in American history.

After this, Grant and Sherman began finishing off the South. While Grant continued to pin down Lee at Richmond and Petersburg, Sherman cut loose from Atlanta and marched to the sea, destroying everything in his path in an effort to terrorize the South and break its will and ability to fight. As Sherman said before his march: “This war is different from European wars of the past. We’re fighting not only a hostile army, but a hostile people. And we must make them, old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.”

But Sherman saved his most devastating blows for his next target–South Carolina, the seat of secession. Early that April, after plundering South Carolina and pushing northward toward Richmond, Sherman heard that Grant had broken through Lee’s Richmond defenses and cornered his fleeing armies near Appomattox, Virginia. There, Grant had accepted Lee’s surrender.

Lincoln’s Assassination and the End of the Civil War

Back in Washington, a jubilant Lincoln spoke about his plans for bringing the South back into the union. He had not settled on a final reconstruction policy, but he hoped, he said, that the vote would be extended, at least, to literate blacks and black army veterans. “That means nigger citizenship,” said a man in the crowd, a stage actor and Confederate supporter from Maryland named John Wilkes Booth. “That’s the last speech he’ll ever make,” Booth uttered.

When news of Lee’s surrender went out on the telegraph wires, wild celebrations broke out all over the North. But several days later, the mood turned somber and angry when the nation learned that John Wilkes Booth had assassinated Lincoln. Lincoln was first American President ever to be assassinated.

The next week, General Joseph Johnston, the commander of the Confederate army that Sherman was pursuing in North Carolina, surrendered. The South had no more armies. The war was over.

The martyred Lincoln achieved what he had called for in his Gettysburg Address: secession was dead, and with it, slavery, at a terrible cost of 620,000 lives and the utter destruction of the South. But two great questions remained: What would be the place in the reconstructed nation of the almost four million newly freed slaves, and of the defeated South?

Enhanced Transcript Page 4

The Reconstruction Challenge

[Picture of a ruined city]

Reconstructing was one of the most daunting challenges ever faced by the American people. The Northern economy emerged from the war stronger than ever, poised for an unprecedented expansion. But the South was bankrupt and prostrate, its farms and factories in ruins.

As rebel soldiers headed home along dusty roads, they passed wagons filled with white refugees, old men, women, and children, returning, like the soldiers, to homes and towns ravaged by Yankee armies. When these victims of war arrived home they found things greatly changed.

Nineteen-year-old Hugh Moss, a veteran of the siege of Vicksburg, talked to neighbors in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who claimed to have been, in their words, “humiliated by Negroes” who would no longer take orders from them. The newly freed blacks, Moss wrote in his diary, were “putting themselves on an equality with whites.” This, Moss said, made his “blood boil.”

To make matters worse, tens of thousands of Confederate veterans returned home as cripples. In 1865, the State of Mississippi spent over one-fifth of its budget for artificial limbs for its veterans. This is how Reconstruction began for Southerners, in a climate of seething passions and deep-felt hatred of Yankees.

Prospects of a New Freedom

But for black people, Reconstruction began on high hopes. At first, freedom meant simply freedom of movement. Long restricted to the plantation or to limited travel with a pass, newly-freed slaves took to the road and traveled from place to place, testing their ability to move about or just searching for family members who had been sold off to other plantations.

Thousands of former slaves shed their slave names; and all over the South, there were mass marriage ceremonies. Even the smallest things mattered, like in Vicksburg, when for the first time dead black people were listed on burial records by their names, and not by the term “person, colored.” As they rebuilt their families, newly freed slaves also created their own churches, the first social institutions in America fully controlled by black people. And they went to school.

Northern missionaries and philanthropists funded and staffed black schools and colleges. But to a large extent, it was blacks themselves who created, paid for, and ran their own schools. As Booker T. Washington marveled: “It was a whole race trying to go to school.”

Ida B. Wells, who would later lead a national anti-lynching movement, recalled that her illiterate mother went to school with her in Holly Springs, Mississippi, wearing her best dress, so she could learn to read the Bible. Nothing angered white Southerners more than these black schools. As one Mississippi politician declared: “What the North is sending South is not money but dynamite; this education is ruining our Negroes. They’re demanding equality.”

[Picture of Sherman]

But to have equality, black people felt they must have access to land. The cry went up all over the South: “40 acres and a mule.” This expression, ironically, had its origins in the surprising action of a Union general known for his racist views: William Tecumseh Sherman.

In his March to the Sea, Sherman had liberated thousands of Georgia slaves who followed his army; so many slaves, that Sherman feared they would disrupt his army’s capacity to make war. So when Sherman reached Savannah, Georgia, he issued Field Order No. 15. It set aside the South Carolina Sea Islands and extensive rice-growing land to the south of Charleston, land abandoned by white planters, for the exclusive use of blacks.

Sherman considered this a temporary war measure. The 40,000 former slaves who settled on what became known as “Sherman’s Lands” had different ideas. As one black man said, “I always kept master and me; I guess I can keep me.”

This plan to redistribute confiscated land would have revolutionized the South. But within a year, the land was returned to its former owners. And the blacks that had begun to farm it were told to work for the original owners or be evicted.

Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction

This was part of a plan by Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson, to return all land confiscated by the Union Army during the war to its former Confederate owners. Johnson hoped to bring the South back into the Union on lenient terms, with white supremacy intact. But Johnson didn’t speak for the entire government.

His reconstruction policies were vigorously opposed in Congress by a group of Republicans led by Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Newspapers called them the Radical Republicans. Abolitionists before the war, they wanted to punish the South and provide legal protection, including the vote, for the freedmen.

Thaddeus Stevens was almost alone among them, however, in pushing for a policy of land confiscation and redistribution. Both a “landed aristocracy” and a “landless class” were, he said, dangerous to a democracy. Johnson, a Tennessean of humble background, had been put on the Lincoln ticket in 1864 to get support from pro-war Democrats. In 1861, he was the only Senator from a seceding state that had remained loyal to the Union.

A tailor by trade, Johnson had never gone to school. And like many of his most enthusiastic supporters, the poor whites of Tennessee, he hated the plantation aristocracy. This at first encouraged the Radical Republicans. But they soon learned that he hated blacks even more.

Johnson was willing to officially pardon Confederate leaders by the thousands in order to keep the South white man’s country. In an official address to Congress, he declared that Negroes “have less capacity for government than any other race of people,” and when left alone, had “a tendency to relapse into barbarism.” That might be the most extreme statement ever to appear in an official paper by an American President.

At first, the Radicals had the country behind them and they won back control of Reconstruction from the President in 1866. Now, for a state to be readmitted to the Union, it had to accept the newly- ratified Fourteenth Amendment, which gave blacks the vote and citizenship rights. These rights would be further protected with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. Southern states were put under military rule until they accepted these terms.

When Johnson urged the Southern states to defy Congress, Thaddeus Stevens led a successful effort to impeach him. In March, 1868, Johnson was acquitted by one vote in a Senate trial; but he was a permanently damaged President. In 1868, the Republican Party turned to the most popular man in America, Ulysses Grant, and the great war hero was elected by a huge majority.

Enhanced Transcript Page 5

Grant Faces Erupting Racial Violence

Grant, like Lincoln before him, was committed to national reconciliation. His campaign slogan was “Let Us Have Peace.” But even as he campaigned, racial violence broke out all over the South. The chief instrument of intimidation was the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klan was founded in Tennessee right after the war, and grew strongest in areas where blacks were politically active. Blacks and their white political allies, called Scalawags, if they were from the South, and Carpetbaggers, if from the North, governed the Reconstruction South, with whites holding most of the high offices. Although blacks themselves never completely controlled any Southern state, they held political office all over the South. The Klan went after these black officeholders, as well as those who voted for them.

Black people were attacked, whipped, and often lynched by armed men dressed in white hoods and sheets, many of them ex-Confederate soldiers. Grant was unwilling to wage what he considered a second war against white Southerners. But reports of mounting Klan terrorism finally forced him to act, with the encouragement of Congress and his courageous Attorney General, Amos Akerman. Using federal troops and new federal laws, Grant crushed the Klan.

But he knew that violence would continue, and that the Northern public, more interested now in economic progress than black progress, wouldn’t support continued federal intervention. So he removed Ackerman and embraced conciliation. Smelling victory, white supremacists were in no mood to compromise. On December 21, 1874, there was an outbreak of racial violence at a place Grant knew well: Vicksburg, Mississippi.

After whites demanded the resignation of a black sheriff, violence erupted between his black supporters and city officials. Armed bands of the local White Man’s Party, as it was called, roamed the countryside with long rifles, murdering as many as 300 black people. Grant ordered in troops to restore Sheriff Peter Crosby. But just as he did, another crisis erupted in Louisiana.

There, Democrats attempted to illegally seize control of the state assembly. Again Grant sent troops, this time under the command of his old army pal, Phil Sheridan. Federal soldiers marched into the legislative chambers and removed the Democratic claimants, members of a group called the White League. The only way to deal with these white radicals, Sheridan wired Washington, was to declare them “banditi” and execute them.

The incident unleashed a storm of criticism in the North. Grant was condemned for his resort to government “by bayonet.” “Was this America?” asked a leading Republican Party critic of Grant. “If this can be done in Louisiana, how long will it be before it can done in Massachusetts and Ohio?”

Grant defended his actions in a courageous speech, in which he made reference to a massacre that occurred a few years before, in Colfax, Louisiana. In that incident, rampaging whites murdered 280 blacks, and none of the whites had been arrested. “Why is it,” Grant asked, “that no way can be found in this boasted land of civilization and Christianity to punish the perpetuators of this bloody and monstrous crime?

White Supremacy is Restored in the South

But after this, Grant backed off. On one occasion, he turned down an urgent plea from the Reconstruction Governor of Mississippi to send troops to protect black voters against violent intimidation by a local White League. Grant refused to intervene because it would have hurt his party’s chances of retaining the White House in 1876. So the Democrats swept the Mississippi election of 1875, using force and fraud.

The Republicans were overthrown, as they would be two years later in every Southern state. The national Republican Party sat back and watched this happen. But this was no longer the party of Thaddeus Stevens. The Party was now controlled by powerful Northern businessmen, and Grant catered to them.

The Reconstruction Governor of Mississippi, Adebert Ames, had it right. “A revolution has taken place, by force of arms; and a race are disfranchised. They are to be returned to a condition of serfdom, an era of second slavery.”

The South prevailed because the North was not prepared, as Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln had been prepared during the Civil War, to use radical measures against an undeclared revolution against constitutional government. These tougher measures could have included: confiscation and redistribution to black farmers of the land of former masters; long prison sentences for top Confederate leaders (Jefferson Davis, for example, got the longest prison sentence, a mere two years); and a long-term military presence in the South to protect black people. Why the North didn’t take stronger measures is explained, in part, in a letter William Tecumseh Sherman sent to a fellow officer who believed in black suffrage.

“There is powerful racial prejudice all over America, North as well as South,” Sherman told him. “If we begin to force the Negro on the South as a voter we begin,” what Sherman called, “a new revolution.” Then, Sherman strongly implied that he might take a different side in this revolution than he had when he was fighting, during the war, to crush a revolution against constitutional government. So with Northern compliance, white supremacy was restored in the South for almost a century, until a black church leader named Martin Luther King inaugurated a Second Reconstruction.

Image as History: Reconstruction Cartoons

What are the references employed by the cartoonist Thomas Nast in his cartoon “This is a White Man’s Government?”

Title: This is a White Man’s Government Artist: Thomas Nast Date: 1868 Credit: Images Courtesy of HarpWeek, LLC

The slogan and quote from the 1868 Democratic Party platform speak to the organized resistance against Republican Reconstruction.

  1. Black schools and asylums set aflame and lynched bodies hanging from lamp posts demonstrate the severity of the opposition to Reconstruction.
  2. This figure represents a generic Irish Democrat. His hat indicates that he comes from the notorious Five Points district of New York, and he holds aloft a club by which he will make certain to deny black men the right to vote.
  3. This is Confederate veteran Nathan Bedford Forrest. He wears the belt buckle of the Confederate States of America and holds a dagger labeled “The Lost Cause,” a reference to the Southern belief after the war that the Confederacy had nobly fought for the constitutional right of secession and had not truly been defeated.
  4. As a Confederate commander in Tennessee, Forrest was responsible for one of the worst atrocities of the war at Fort Pillow, Tennessee on April 12, 1864 when Forrest’s men murdered surrendering black soldiers. After the war, Forrest was one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.
  5. This is August Belmont, a New York financier who headed Democratic Party efforts to nominate Horatio Seymour for president in the election of 1868. As Governor of New York during the war, Seymour had denounced emancipation as “barbarous.” Belmont represents the interests of northern capital, especially Wall Street, who seek to turn away from the problems of Reconstruction and focus instead on commercial and industrial development.
  6. The ballot box lies on the ground out of reach of the black man; he has been denied his right to vote.

Thomas Nast

Born in Germany and educated in New York, Thomas Nast helped invent and define political cartooning in America. Through his work for Harper’s Weekly, a magazine with a circulation of over 100,000 readers, Nast introduced a number of symbols that have remained commonplace in political allegory, including the elephant for the Republican Party and the donkey for the Democratic Party. He is perhaps best remembered for his skewering attacks on the corruption of Tammany Hall in New York under the leadership of Boss Tweed.

But Nast was also a dedicated Republican and a devout exponent of radical Reconstruction policies after the war. His cartoons called for the granting of civil rights to the freed men relentlessly attacked the pro-Southern policies of Andrew Johnson, and offered repeated reminders of what he believed the war had been fought for. He became especially riled by the violent and manipulative efforts of opponents of Reconstruction to deny free blacks their rightful place in a newly reconstructed nation.

The name of the cartoon used in this “Image as History” is a quotation from the 1868 Democratic Party platform, speaking to the organized resistance against Republican Reconstruction.

Questions to Ponder

After the Civil War, African Americans faced assaults upon their newly won political rights. The Fifteenth Amendment, giving all male citizens the right to vote, disturbed many Southerners, as well as Northerners, who used a variety of extra-legal means to intimidate blacks and prevent them from voting.

1. Political cartoons such as Nast’s employ a different visual rhetoric from photographs or paintings. What makes cartoons effective as pieces of social commentary?

2. How might a Southern Democrat have depicted the events of the era of Reconstruction?


Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York: Perennial Library, 1989.

Keller, Morton. The Art and Politics of Thomas Nast. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Litwack, Leon. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. New York: Knopf; distributed by Random House, 1979.


Harper’s Weekly  
Provides access to the content and pages of leading illustrated newspapers of the 19th century, including Harper’s Weekly.



Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address  
The text of Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address.

The Valley of the Shadow: Northern Politics 

Newspaper articles from 1861-1864. Includes one about the 1864 Democratic platform, McClellan’s letter of acceptance as nominee, the election of Lincoln, etc.

USA: Lincoln’s last speech  
The text of Lincoln’s last speech.    

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site  
An account of Lincoln’s assassination with a photo of the theater and the box where he was sitting. Provides links to information on Booth, Lincoln security, Inaugural Addresses, etc.

Lincoln Assassination: Introduction  
An account of Lincoln’s assassination with illustrations. Provides links to a timeline of the conspiracy, a gallery of illustrations, and Lincoln papers at the Library of Congress.

Abraham Lincoln Assassination and Memorial Links  
A page of links to sites about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.


Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Address  
Drafts of the Gettysburg Address, transcriptions in different languages, Lincoln’s invitation to Gettysburg, the only known photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg, etc.

The Avalon Project : Gettysburg Address  
The text of the Gettysburg Address.

Abraham Lincoln – The Gettysburg Address  
The text of the Gettysburg Address.

Documents of Freedom – The Gettysburg Address  
The Gettysburg Address, with links to other important American historical documents.

Historical Documents  
Many historical documents including The Gettysburg Address with a brief introduction.


William Tecumseh Sherman

Furman: Sherman’s Atlanta Correspondence  
The text of two letters from Sherman’s Atlanta correspondence.

Sherman’s March to the Sea  
A page of links pertaining to Sherman’s March.

Bentonville Battleground – Overview  
A history of Sherman and the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War, with illustrations, photos and quotes.

Time Line of The Civil War, 1864  
A timeline of the Civil War with links. Includes a paragraph each on Sherman and Atlanta, and Sherman’s March to the Sea.    

Forty Acres and a Mule  
A summary of Sherman’s Field Order No. 15.

The American Civil War Home Page  
A Civil War site with many documents, letters, related links, etc.    

William Tecumseh Sherman  
A Sherman biography with links to various events.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman  
A Sherman biography with links to various events.

People in the West  
A Sherman biography.


Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant  
A photo and a biography of Grant with a reference to his appointment by Lincoln as General-in-Chief in March 1864.

Ulysses S. Grant – Chronology  
Offers a Grant chronology with links and images.


Grant’s Orders of Federal Troops against the KKK

A chronology of events from January 1865- April 1898. Includes Grant’s use of Federal Troops to augment the anti-Klan effort.

Ulysses S. Grant: In Over His Head, 1869-1877 
A history of problems during Grant’s presidency, including the events of the Ku Klux Klan. Provides links to information about Grant, facts about his presidency, and images.


Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee  
A biography of Lee with a reference to the Battle of Gettysburg.

Modern History Sourcebook: Terms of Lee’s Surrender At Appomattox, 1865  
The text of letters exchanged by Generals Grant and Lee, giving the terms under which Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox.

Handbook of Texas Online: Lee, Robert Edward  
A biography of Robert E. Lee.


Philip Henry Sheridan

Major-General Philip Henry Sheridan  
A photo of Sheridan.

Handbook of Texas Online: Sheridan, Philip Henry  
A biography of Sheridan.

People in the West – Philip Henry Sheridan  
A biography of Sheridan with a photo and related links.


George McClellan

General George Brinton McClellan  
A biography and a photo of McClellan.


Thomas Nast

The World of Thomas Nast  
HarpWeek’s comprehensive site on Thomas Nast.


John Wilkes Booth

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site  
An account of Lincoln’s assassination with a photo of the theater and the box where he was sitting. Provides links to information on Booth, Lincoln security, Inaugural Addresses, etc.    

Surratt House Museum/John Wilkes Booth/Abraham Lincoln  
A site about the Surrat house with links to Mrs. Surrat’s story, the proceedings of the conspiracy trial, a brief description of John Wilkes Booth’s family, etc.

The Life and Plot of John Wilkes Booth  
A biography and photographs of John Wilkes Booth, with information on his plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln Assassination: Introduction  
An account of Lincoln’s assassination with illustrations.Provides links to a timeline of the conspiracy, a gallery of illustrations, and Lincoln papers at the Library of Congress.    

Today in History, April 14  
An illustrated account of the Lincoln assassination with related links.


Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson  
A biography of Andrew Johnson with a photo.

Andrew Johnson  
A biography of Andrew Johnson.

Today in History: December 29  
An illustrated biography of Andrew Johnson with related links including one to information about his impeachment trial.

The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson  
A comprehensive site about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Includes a brief overview with links to a chronology, opinions of senators, Senate vote and map, biographies, sketches, etc.

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson: Historical Perspectives on Impeachment in American History  
A page of links to information on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson as well as to historical perspectives on impeachment in American history.

Chronology of Andrew Johnson 1808 – 1875  
A chronology of the life of Andrew Johnson.

Johnson, Andrew 1808-1875: Biographical Information  
A biography and portrait of Andrew Johnson.


Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson

An Introduction to the Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson  
An account of Johnson’s impeachment trial, with references to Sumner and Stevens and a link to the impeachment trial home page.

Life After the 13th Amendment  
An account of the events after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, with references to Sumner and Stevens.

Mathew Brady Gallery, NY – Thaddeus Stevens  
A brief biography and a photo of Stevens.

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson 

A brief biography and a photo of Stevens

Closing Argument of Thaddeus Stevens in the Impeachment  
The text of the closing arguments given by Stevens in Johnson’s impeachment trial.

Furman University: Thaddeus Stevens Papers On-line 
Stevens’ letters regarding issues such as Reconstruction, race relations, political upheaval, Constitutional issues, etc. An outline of each letter is given.

Today in History, May 16  
An illustrated account of the Johnson impeachment with many links.

Series Directory

A Biography of America


Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration, and with the assistance of Instructional Resources Corporation. 2000.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-202-7