Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807, in
Westmoreland County, Virginia. He died on October
12, 1870, in Lexington, Virginia.
Divides the Nation
In the 1800's, the United
States was divided over the issue of slavery.
In the North, abolitionists were against slavery.
In the South, plantation owners were in favor
The issue of slavery played
an important role when a new state was admitted
into the Union. Would the new state enter as a
free state and not allow slavery or would the
new state enter as a slave state and allow slavery?
Whether a state
would be admitted into the Union as a free state
or a slave state was a critical question because
the only way to abolish slavery was to amend the
U.S. Constitution. To amend the Constitution,
three-fourths of the states would have to vote
in favor of abolishing slavery. If there were
a balance between free states and slave states,
a constitutional amendment would not pass.
The North wanted the new
state to be admitted as a free state because it
wanted to end the spread of slavery. The South
wanted the new state to be admitted as a slave
state because it wanted to keep a balance between
free states and slave states to protect slavery.
The U.S. passed several
laws to determine whether a new state would be
admitted as a free state or a slave state. These
include the Compromise of 1820, the Compromise
of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The Compromise of 1820 admitted
Missouri into the Union as a slave state. It also
stated slavery would not be allowed in any state
formed north of Missouri's southern border.
The drawing of this line
was arbitrary, but it pleased both the North and
the South. The North was satisfied because it
stopped slavery from spreading. The South was
satisfied because it protected slavery in the
southern parts of the country.
When the Compromise of
1820 was passed, the existing territories of the
U.S. were either above or below this arbitrary
line. This lasted until 1848. In 1848, the United
States won the Mexican War and gained new territories
in the west. One of these territories was California.
In 1850, California asked
to join the Union. The Compromise of 1820 could
not settle the issue of slavery in California
because California extended across the arbitrary
line marking the southern border of Missouri.
The Compromise of 1850
tried to settle this dispute. The state of California
was admitted into the Union as a free state. The
other territories recently annexed from Mexico
(as a result of the Mexican War) would choose
for themselves whether to be a free state or a
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska
Act extended the Compromise of 1850 to all U.S.
territories. The people of Kansas, Nebraska, and
other territories would decide for themselves
whether to be a free state or a slave state.
South Secedes from the Union
These laws did not solve
tensions between the abolitionists and the slave
owners. Instead, they divided the country more.
In November, 1860, Abraham
Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the
United States. The Southern states were not happy
with Lincoln's victory as president because they
did not agree with his position against slavery.
They decided to secede or withdraw from the Union.
Confederate States of America
On December 20, 1860, South
Carolina was the first state to secede from the
Union. Within a few months, ten more states seceded:
Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and
Tennessee. There were only 23 states remaining
in the Union. The Southern states formed their
own government called the Confederate States of
America and elected Jefferson Davis as President.
American Civil War Begins
(April 12, 1861)
On April 12, 1861, Confederate
forces fired on Union-controlled Fort Sumter in
Charleston, South Carolina. The American Civil
War had begun.
Battle of Antietam
(September 17, 1862)
In September, 1862, Confederate
General Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern
Virginia into northern territory for the first
time during the Civil War. On September 17, Lee's
army met the Union Army of the Potomac at Sharpsburg,
Maryland, near Antietam Creek. The Union army
was led by Major General George B. McClellan.
you know the South refers to the battle
as the Battle of Sharpsburg, and the North refers
to the battle as the Battle of Antietam?
The Union army (87,000
troops) outnumbered the Confederate army (40,000
troops) by more than 2-to-1. The armies fought
at North Woods, East Woods, West Woods, the Cornfield,
Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, and Burnside's Bridge.
At the end of the day,
the battle was tactically a draw. Over 22,000
men were killed or wounded. The Battle of Antietam
was the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.
The next day, Lee's Army
withdrew into Virginia, and the Union claimed
Antietam as a victory. Five days later, on September
22, President Abraham Lincoln used this victory
to issue a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
(January 1, 1863)
On January 1,
1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation
Proclamation. It freed about 4 million African-Americans
held as slaves in the southern states and southern-held
territories. It also changed the Civil War from
a war for preservation (keeping the Union together)
into a war of liberation (freeing the slaves).
Battle of Gettysburg
(July 1-3, 1863)
In the summer of 1863, Confederate
General Robert E. Lee led his troops into Northern
territory for the second time during the Civil
War. Lee's army met the Union army at Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania. The Union army was led by General
George G. Meade. The two armies fought at Gettysburg
for three days from July 1 to July 3, 1863.
On July 1, the Confederate
army met the Union army west of Gettysburg. They
fought at McPherson's Ridge, the Railroad Cut,
and McPherson's Woods. The Confederate army pushed
the Union army back through the town. The armies'
lines formed a "fishhook." The Confederate army
was located in a "fishhook" along Seminary Ridge,
and the Union army was located in a "fishhook"
along Cemetery Ridge.
On July 2, the Confederate
army confronted the Union army at Little Round
Top, Big Round Top, Devil's Den, the Wheat Field,
the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, and Culp's
Hill. The Confederate army gained some territory,
and then fell back to its original line along
On July 3, fighting continued
at Culp's Hill in the morning. In the afternoon,
the Confederate artillery began a 150-cannon barrage
on the Union line located on Cemetery Ridge. The
Confederate army then marched across the one mile
open field towards the clump of trees marking
the center of the Union army's position. This
charge is known as Pickett's Charge. The two armies
met at the Angle on Cemetery Ridge. This position
is known as the High Water Mark. The Union army
held off the assault, and the Confederate army
After three days of fighting,
the Confederate army retreated from the battlefield,
and the Union army won the battle. As both armies
left the field, over 61,000 men were dead or wounded.
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle
of the Civil War.
The Battle of Gettysburg
is known as the High Tide of the Confederacy because
it was the closest the Confederate army came to
defeating the Union army. If the Confederate army
had won the battle, this victory may have led
to a southern victory of the war. The Confederate
defeat at Gettysburg was a turning point of the
Civil War. Although the war continued for another
two years, the Confederacy never had a better
chance of winning the war than it did at Gettysburg.
(April 9, 1865)
On April 9, 1865,
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered
to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant in
the McLean House in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
Approximately 26,765 Confederate soldiers surrendered.
The McLean House was owned
by Wilmer McLean. At the beginning of the Civil
War, McLean lived in Manassas, Virginia. The Battle
of Bull Run, in July, 1861, was the first major
battle of the Civil War, and part of this battle
was fought on McLean's property. McLean moved
to Appomattox Court House to get away from the
fighting. Then in April, 1865, the Armies met
in Appomattox Court House, and the Confederate
Army surrendered in McLean's home. Because of
this sequence of events, it has been said the
Civil War began in Wilmer McLean's back yard and
ended in his front parlor.
The American Civil War
lasted four years and was finally over. Over 600,000
Americans died. More Americans died in the Civil
War than in all the wars combined from 1775 to
1975. In the end, the Union was preserved and
slavery was abolished.
14th, and 15th Amendments
After the American Civil
War, there were three amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Amendment abolishes slavery in the United
States. It was proposed to the state legislatures
by the 38th Congress on January 31, 1865. It
was ratified by three-fourths of the states
on December 6, 1865.
Section 1 states, "Neither
slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as
a punishment for crime whereof the party shall
have been duly convicted, shall exist within
the United States, or any place subject to their
Amendment grants due process and equal
protection to all citizens. It was proposed
to the state legislatures by the 39th Congress
on June 13, 1866. It was ratified by three-fourths
of the states on July 9, 1868.
Section 1 states, "
shall any State deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws."
Amendment gives a man the right to vote
regardless of his "race, color, or previous
condition of servitude." It was proposed
to the state legislatures by the 40th Congress
on February 26, 1869. It was ratified by three-fourths
of the states in February 3, 1870.
Section 1 states, "The
right of citizens of the United States to vote
shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any State on account of race, color,
or previous condition of servitude."
The period following the
American Civil War is known as Reconstruction.
It brought the Southern states back into the Union
and allowed the United States to rebuild the South's
economic, social, and political structures. The
country was united once again.