Unit 4: 1844-1877 Civil War Era - Antebellum, Manifest Destiny, War & Reconstruction

 Unit 4, Period 5 
The Civil War Era… Antebellum… Manifest Destiny… War… and Reconstruction...1844-1877
civil war  

Unit 4 Textbook Chapters: 

AMSCO Chapters 12-15 / American Pageant Chapters 17-22 Reading Guides (Optional but HIGHLY ENCOURAGED): 
Chapter 11:  Society, Culture and Reform 
Chapter 12:  Territorial and Economic Expansion 1830-1860
Chapter 13:  The Union in Peril 1848-1861
Chapter 14:  The Civil War 1861-1865
Chapter 15:  Reconstruction 1863-1867

American Pageant chapters 17 - 22: 
If you do  not have your textbook yet, you may read American Pageant chapters online:

Chapter 17:  Manifest Destiny and It's Legacy 1841-1848

Chapter 18:  Renewing the Sectional Struggle 1848-1854

Chapter 19:  Drifting Toward Disunion 1854-1861

Chapter 20:  Girding for War:  The North and the South 1861-1865

Chapter 21:  The Furnace of the Civil War 1861-1865

Chapter 22:  The Ordeal of Reconstruction 1865-1877


All videos are approximately 20 minutes each.

Chapter 11American Society and Economy Transformed (1815-1860)

Chapter 12:  Westward Expansion (1820s-1850)

Chapter 13:  Travel West and Old South

Chapter 14:  Impending Crisis (1850-1861)

Chapter 15:  Civil War (1861-1865)

Chapter 16:  Reconstruction Politics (1863/65-1877)


(alternate recorded lectures!)


Unit 4 Key Concepts


 American Anti-Slavery Society Manifesto (additional reading) 
William Harper's Apology  (additional reading) 
Aint I a Woman? (additional reading) 
The Slavery Debate (also in unit 3 additional reading... you already have a copy)
Southern Argument for Slavery (also in unit 3 additional reading... you already have a copy)
Lincoln Douglas (additional reading) 
John Brown's Last Speech (additional reading) 
The Emancipation Proclamation (additional reading) 
The Gettysburg Address (additional reading) 
Native Americans in the Civil War (additional reading)
Suicide Slavery and Memory  (also in unit 3 additional reading... you already have a copy)
Black Reconstruction (additional reading)

Unit 4 Terms:

The South and the Slavery Controversy, 1793–1860

 (reviewing slavery and sectionalism from Unit 3)

The Seventh of March Speech
Renewing the Sectional Struggle

Theme: The explosion of cotton production fastened the slave system deeply upon the South, creating a complex, hierarchical racial and social order that deeply affected whites as well as blacks.

Theme: The economic benefits of an increasing production of cotton due to the cotton gin and slavery was shared between the South, the North, and Britain. The economics of cotton and slavery also led to bigger and bigger plantations, since they could afford the heavy investment of human capital.

Theme: The emergence of a small but energetic radical abolitionist movement caused a fierce proslavery backlash in the South and a slow but steady growth of moderate antislavery sentiment in the North.


Whitney’s cotton gin made cotton production enormously profitable, and created an ever-increasing demand for slave labor. The South’s dependence on cotton production tied it economically to the plantation system and racially to white supremacy. The cultural gentility and political domination of the relatively small plantation aristocracy concealed slavery’s great social and economic costs for whites as well as blacks.

Most slaves were held by a few large planters. But most slaveowners had few slaves, and most southern whites had no slaves at all. Nevertheless, except for a few mountain whites, the majority of southern whites strongly supported slavery and racial supremacy because they cherished the hope of becoming slaveowners themselves, and because white racial identity gave them a sense of superiority to the blacks.

The treatment of the economically valuable slaves varied considerably. Within the bounds of the cruel system, slaves yearned for freedom and struggled to maintain their humanity, including family life.

The older black colonization movement was largely replaced in the 1830s by a radical Garrisonian abolitionism demanding an immediate end to slavery. Abolitionism and the Nat Turner rebellion caused a strong backlash in the South, which increasingly defended slavery as a positive good and turned its back on many of the liberal political and social ideas gaining strength in the North.

Most northerners were hostile to radical abolitionism, and respected the Constitution’s evident protection of slavery where it existed. But many also gradually came to see the South as a land of oppression, and any attempt to extend slavery as a threat to free society.


Manifest Destiny  

 American Progress painting

 Enlarging the Nation State & Manifest Destiny Notes Part 1

Enlarging the Nation State & Manifest Destiny Notes Part 2

Summary of Manifest Destiny (part 3)

Enlarging the Nation State and Manifest Destiny Bonus Map

Disunion Map and Mexican War Bonus Maps


Drifting Toward Disunion, 1854–1861... reviewing causes

A series of major North-South crises in the late 1850s culminated in the election of the antislavery Republican Lincoln to the presidency in 1860. His election caused seven southern states to secede from the union and form the Confederate States of America.


The 1850s were punctuated by successive confrontations that deepened sectional hostility until it broke out in the Civil War.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin fanned northern antislavery feeling. In Kansas, proslavery and antislavery forces fought a bloody little preview of the Civil War. Buchanan’s support of the proslavery Lecompton Constitution alienated moderate northern Democrats like Douglas. Congressman Brooks’s beating of Senator Sumner aroused passions in both sections.

The 1856 election signaled the rise of the sectionally based Republican party. The Dred Scott case delighted the South, while northern Republicans pledged defiance. The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 deepened the national controversy over slavery. John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry made him a heroic martyr in the North but caused outraged southerners to fear a slave uprising.

The Democratic party split along sectional lines, allowing Lincoln to win the four-way 1860 election. Seven southern states quickly seceded and organized the Confederate States of America.

As southerners optimistically cast off their ties to the hated North, lame-duck President Buchanan proved unable to act. The last-minute Crittenden Compromise effort failed because of Lincoln’s opposition.

“I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.” John Brown (1800–1859) (Statement before hanging, 1859)

“I have no money to pay anybody at Washington to speak for me.…Will nobody speak for me at Washington, even without hope of other reward than the blessings of a poor black man and his family?…I can only pray that some good heart will be moved by pity to do that for me which I cannot do for myself; and that if the right is on my side it may be so declared by the high court to which I have appealed.” Dred Scott (1795–1858) (Pamphlet containing Scott’s appeal for aid, 1854)

Girding for War: The North and the South, 1861–1865


Chapter Themes

The North effectively brought to bear its long-term advantages of industrial might and human resources to wage a devastating total war against the South. The war helped organize and modernize northern society, while the South, despite heroic efforts, was economically and socially crushed.

Lincoln’s skillful political leadership helped keep the crucial Border States in the Union and maintain northern morale, while his effective diplomacy kept Britain and France from aiding the Confederacy.


South Carolina’s firing on Fort Sumter aroused the North for war. Lincoln’s call for troops to suppress the rebellion drove four upper South states into the Confederacy. Lincoln used an effective combination of political persuasion and force to keep the deeply divided Border States in the Union.

The Confederacy enjoyed initial advantages of upper-class European support, military leadership, and a defensive position on its own soil. The North enjoyed the advantages of lower-class European support, industrial and population resources, and political leadership.

The British upper classes sympathized with the South and abetted Confederate naval efforts. But effective diplomacy and Union military success thwarted those efforts and kept Britain as well as France neutral in the war.

Lincoln’s political leadership proved effective in mobilizing the North for war, despite political opposition and resistance to his infringement on civil liberties. The North eventually mobilized its larger troop resources for war and ultimately turned to an unpopular and unfair draft system.

Northern economic and financial strengths enabled it to gain an advantage over the less-industrialized South. The changes in society opened new opportunities for women, who had contributed significantly to the war effort in both the North and South. Since most of the war was waged on Southern soil, the South was left devastated by the war.

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.…As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) (Message to Congress, 1862)

“The idea of acquiring a doctor’s degree gradually assumed the aspect of a great moral struggle, and the moral fight possessed great attraction for me.” Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) (Memoir, 1879)

“The paths of charity are over the roadways of ashes, and he who would tread them must be prepared to meet opposition, misconstruction, jealousy, and calumny. Let his work be that of angels, still it will not satisfy all.” Clara Barton

The Furnace of Civil War, 1861–1865

Chapter Themes

The Civil War, begun as a limited struggle over the Union, eventually became a total war to end slavery and transform the nation.

After several years of seesaw struggle, the Union armies under Ulysses Grant finally wore down the Southern forces under Robert E. Lee and ended the Confederate bid for independence as well as the institution of slavery.


The Union defeat at Bull Run ended Northern complacency about a quick victory. George McClellan and other early Union generals proved unable to defeat the tactically brilliant Confederate armies under Lee. The Union naval blockade put a slow but devastating economic noose around the South.

The political and diplomatic dimensions of the war quickly became critical. In order to retain the border states, Lincoln first de-emphasized any intention to destroy slavery. But the Battle of Antietam in 1862 enabled Lincoln to prevent foreign intervention and turn the struggle into a war against slavery. Blacks and abolitionists joined enthusiastically in a war for emancipation, but white resentment in part of the North created political problems for Lincoln.

The Union victories at Vicksburg in the West and Gettysburg in the East finally turned the military tide against the South. Southern resistance remained strong, but the Union victories at Atlanta and Mobile assured Lincoln’s success in the election of 1864 and ended the last Confederate hopes. The war ended the issues of disunion and slavery, but at a tremendous cost to both North and South.

1790 to 1860 Map Review

Pictoral Review of Fort Sumter

A Pictorial Review of the First Battle of Bull Run: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/multimedia/photos/?c=y&articleID=124102919&page=17

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Gettsburg Address

“Yes, it is amazing that our people—Americans, proud, boastful, free—should have submitted to usurpation and despotism.…I am a Democrat—for the Constitution, for law, for the Union, for liberty—this is my only crime.” Clement Vallandigham (1820–1871) (1863)

“After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassing courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.…Feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuation of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.” Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) (Farewell Speech to Confederate Troops, 1865)

“I saw an open field…so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without touching a foot on the ground.” Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) (After the Battle of Shiloh, 1862)

“I think a man of different qualities from those the President has will be needed for the next four years. I am not anxious to be regarded as that man. I am quite willing to leave [the choice] to the decision of those who think some such man should be chosen.” Salmon P. Chase (1808–1873) (Diary, 1864)

“I am not a murderer. I have done nothing that a soldier on the battlefield would not do. I do not regret what I have done.” John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865) (Statement to physician aiding him, April 15, 1865)


1850-1860 Review

Great review and pictures... (play the review at the top of the page)


The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln


Reconstruction Era; 1865-1877



“We are henceforth to be one American people. 
Let us forget that we fought. Let us remember only that we have made peace.”
Horace Greeley (1872)


Introduction to Reconstruction

Chapter 22

The Ordeal of Reconstruction, 1865–1877


Johnson’s political blunders and Southern white recalcitrance led to the imposition of congressional military Reconstruction on the South. Reconstruction did address difficult issues of reform and racial justice in the South and achieved some successes, but was ultimately abandoned, leaving a deep legacy of racial and sectional bitterness.

During Reconstruction, the Constitution was strengthened with the Fourteenth (citizenship and equal protection of the laws) and Fifteenth (black voting rights) Amendments, but it was also tested with the conflicts between the President and Congress that culminated in an impeachment process.

Southern resistance to Reconstruction began immediately with the sending of ex-rebels to be seated in Congress and continued with the creation of violently oppressive groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Although forced to make some concessions, Southern "Redeemers" successfully outlasted the Congressional Reconstruction efforts.


With the Civil War over, the nation faced the difficult problems of rebuilding the South, assisting the freed slaves, reintegrating the Southern states into the Union, and deciding who would direct the Reconstruction process.

The South was economically devastated and socially revolutionized by emancipation. As slaveowners reluctantly confronted the end of slave labor, blacks took their first steps in freedom. Black churches and freedmen’s schools helped the former slaves begin to shape their own destiny.

The new President Andrew Johnson was politically inept and personally contentious. His attempt to implement a moderate plan of Reconstruction, along the lines originally suggested by Lincoln, fell victim to Southern whites’ severe treatment of blacks and his own political blunders.

Republicans imposed harsh military Reconstruction on the South after their gains in the 1866 congressional elections. The Southern states reentered the Union with new radical governments, which rested partly on the newly enfranchised blacks, but also had support from some sectors of southern society. These regimes were sometimes corrupt but also implemented important reforms. The divisions between moderate and radical Republicans meant that Reconstruction’s aims were often limited and confused, despite the important Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

Embittered whites hated the radical governments and mobilized reactionary terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan to restore white supremacy. Congress impeached Johnson but failed narrowly to convict him. In the end, the poorly conceived Reconstruction policy failed disastrously.

Essential Reconstruction

Reconstruction Amendments