| Home | Contents || Reconstruction in Alabama Time Line |
[ADAH Logo]US/Ala flags
| Reconstruction Summary | Black Leaders | Scalawags | Ku Klux Klan |

Reconstruction in Alabama Time Line:
Alabama As an Example of Reconstruction in the Seceding States

Dr. Sarah Wiggins, University of Alabama (ret.) and Dr. Leah Atkins, Auburn University (ret.)
Correlates to Alabama Course of Study: Social Studies 10th Grade Content Standard 11, p. 73
Correlates to Graduation Exam Eligible Content Standard IV, Objective 1

1863: President Abraham Lincoln proposes lenient plan to return seceding states to full political participation in the Union. Seceding states could reorganize their governments when ten percent of each state's 1860 voting population signed an oath of allegiance to the United States. Southern states would also be required to ratify to the U.S. Constitution the proposed 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S.; pardons would be available from the President.

1864-1865: Some defeated Southern states take advantage of Lincoln's proposal and reorganize their state governments by winter of 1865. (Alabama not conquered until Wilson's Raiders capture Montgomery shortly after the war was over in April 1865.)

1865: In April, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his army to Gen. U. S. Grant; Civil War over. Shortly thereafter, President Lincoln assassinated. After the assassination, President Andrew Johnson issues his plan of Reconstruction, which disfranchises high-ranking ex-Confederate leaders and all whites worth more than $20,000 in 1860. The plan represents Johnson's east Tennessee background and his hostility to wealthy Southerners, whom he blamed for secession.

March 1865: Freedmen's Bureau created in U.S. War Department to aid ex-slaves and destitute whites, but after 1867 also involved in encouraging blacks to vote. General Wager Swayne appointed to lead the Bureau in Alabama.

June 21, 1865: President Johnson appoints Lewis E. Parsons of Talladega as Provisional Governor of Alabama. Parsons reorganizes state government under Johnson's plan. Alabama reconstructed under Johnson's plan.

September 1865: An Alabama constitutional convention approves a new state constitution that abolishes slavery but does not guarantee blacks' civil rights, causing consternation in the North even though the state legislature ratifies the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1865: Robert M. Patton of Lauderdale County elected governor of Alabama under the newly organized government; new senators and representatives chosen.

December 4, 1865: Congress refuses to seat newly elected U.S. senators and representatives from the South, including Alabama's, when the new Congress convenes, calling their election invalid. Many of the Southern states had elected ex-Democrats who had supported the Confederacy. Alabama's two U.S. Senators, Lewis E. Parsons and George S. Houston, had been Unionists. Republicans in Congress fear that a large influx of Southern Democrats will threaten their majority control, so they oppose President Johnson's reconstruction plan and develop their own.

1866: Congress sets forth their Plan of Reconstruction—the 14th Amendment, which would prevent a state from disfranchising its adult black male population. Alabama would reject the proposed plan. Only Tennessee would accept the plan and be reconstructed under it. (Suggestion: Read the 14th Amendment with students. Note differences in use of the words "citizen" and "person." The punishment provisions were never invoked against a Southern state, although all Southern states disfranchised blacks in many ways during the 1890s. Speculate about why it was not used by the Federal government.)

1866: Congressional elections give Radical Republicans heavy majority in Congress. House of Representatives impeach President Johnson on trumped-up charges. In the Senate, the Republicans fail to muster, by only one vote, the two-thirds majority necessary to convict and remove Johnson from office. But Johnson politically ineffective for the two remaining years of his term.

1867: The Congressional Plan (also known as Military or Radical Reconstruction) centers around ratification of the 14th Amendment, and black suffrage. (The 15th Amendment later establishes black suffrage nationwide.) The United States Army, with military governors and military law, is to occupy Southern states. Previous Reconstruction state governments abolished. Alabama part of the Third Military District under Gen. John Pope (later succeeded by Gen. George Gordon Meade). Gen. Wager Swayne (head of the Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama) becomes military governor of Alabama in July. By October, voters register and elect Alabama constitutional convention delegates. For the first time blacks (men only—no women, white or black) vote in Alabama. The constitutional convention of 100 delegates includes 96 Republicans and 18 blacks.

1868: The vote to approve the proposed Alabama constitution lacks the requisite two-thirds majority first required by Congress, but Congress then amends the law to require only a simple majority. The Alabama Constitution of 1868 declared ratified. This constitution gives more emphasis to education and women's rights.

1868: William H. Smith, a Scalawag from Randolph County, elected governor. A. J. Applegate, a Carpetbagger from Maine, elected lieutenant governor. Republicans control state legislature.

1870: Disputed gubernatorial election. Both Smith and Robert Lindsay, a Conservative Democrat from Tuscumbia, claim to be governor. Dispute settled by court. Lindsay declared governor. State senate remains under the control of the Republicans.

1872: David P. Lewis, a Scalawag from Huntsville, elected governor with the aid of a heavy black vote from the Black Belt. Disputed legislative elections. Two legislatures meet simultaneously (one in the capitol and one in the courthouse). United States Attorney General settles dispute, recognizing the Republican legislature.

1874: George S. Houston, a Democrat, elected governor, and Democrats win both houses of the state legislature. Reconstruction ends in Alabama.

1876: Presidential election results in a contest over certain electoral votes. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes wins the presidency after Republicans agree contested Southern electoral votes would go to Hayes, and Hayes would withdraw U.S. Army troops from occupation duty in the South. Reconstruction ends across the South.