Black Codes Laws that were passed across the South in response tothe Civil Rights Act of 1866,restricting blacks’ freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, andlegal rights, and outlawing unemployment, loitering, vagrancy, andinterracial marriages. The codes were one of many techniques thatsouthern whites used to keep blacks effectively enslaved for decadesafter the abolition of slavery. Some black codes appeared as earlyas 1865.

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You are watching: The wade davis bill was rendered ineffective whenCarpetbaggers

A nickname for northerners who moved to the South afterthe Civil War, named for their tendency to carry their possessionswith them in large carpetbags. Though some carpetbaggers migratedto strike it rich, most did so to promote modernization, education,and civil rights for former slaves in the South. Some carpetbaggershad influential roles in the new Republican state legislatures,much to the dismay of white southerners.

Civil Rights Actof 1866

A bill that guaranteed blacks the right to sue,serve on juries, testify as witnesses againstwhites, and enter into legal contracts. The act didnot give blacks the right to vote, because most Radical Republicans in 1866 remainedunconvinced that black suffrage was a necessity. When more Radicalswere elected to Congress that autumn, however, they did considermaking black suffrage a requirement for a state’s readmission intothe Union. The act eventually led to the Fourteenth Amendment tothe Constitution.

Civil Rights Actof 1875

A bill that forbade racial discrimination in all publicplaces. The act was the Radical Republicans’ last legislativeeffort to protect the civil liberties of former slaves. Democratsin the House opposed the bill from the outset and consequently madesure it remained largely ineffectual.

Civil RightsCases of 1883

A series of Supreme Court cases that countered RadicalRepublican legislation passed during Reconstruction and severelyrestricted blacks’ civil liberties. The Court ruled that the CivilRights Act of 1875wasunconstitutional, citing the fact that the Fourteenth Amendmentprohibited racial discrimination by the U.S. government but notby individuals. The decision was used to justify racist policiesin both the South and the North.

Compromise of 1877

A political agreement that made Rutherford B. Hayes president (ratherthan Samuel J. Tilden) in exchange for a complete withdrawal offederal troops from the South, effectively ending Reconstruction. Whenneither Hayes nor Tilden won enough electoral votes to become president,the election fell into dispute, and Congress passed the ElectoralCount Act to recount popular votes in three contested states.The special counting committee determined by just one vote thatHayes had received more votes in the three states and was thereforethe next president of the United States. Democrats accused the Republican-majoritycommittee of bias, so the Compromise of 1877 wasstruck to resolve the political crisis.

Crédit Mobilier

A dummy construction company formed in the 1860sby corrupt Union Pacific Railroad officials who hired themselvesas contractors at inflated rates to gain huge profits. The railroadexecutives also bribed dozens of congressmen and members of UlyssesS. Grant’s cabinet, including Vice President SchuylerColfax. Eventually exposed in 1872,the affair forced many politicians to resign and became the worstscandal that occurred during Grant’s presidency.

Depression of 1873

An economic depression—caused by bad loans and overspeculation inrailroads and manufacturing—that turned the North’s attention awayfrom Reconstruction. Poor whites and blacks were hit hardest, andunemployment soared as high as 15 percent.The depression helped southern Democrats in their quest to regainpolitical prominence in the South and diminished the reelectionprospects for Republican candidates, who advocated hard-money policiesand little immediate economic relief. Indeed, Democrats swept thecongressional elections of 1874 andregained the majority in the House of Representatives for the firsttime since 1856,effectively ending Radical Reconstruction.

Fifteenth Amendment

A constitutional amendment, ratified in 1870,that gave all American men the right to vote, regardless of raceor wealth. The amendment enfranchised blacks and poor landless whiteswho had never been able to vote. Radical Republicans requiredsouthern states to ratify the amendment in order to be readmittedinto the Union. The amendment’s ratification angered many suffragettes whowere fighting for a woman’s right to vote.

First ReconstructionAct

A bill, passed by Radical Republicans inCongress in 1867,that treated Southern states as divided territories. Sometimes calledthe Military Reconstruction Act or the Reconstruction Act, the First ReconstructionAct divided the South into five districts, each governed by martiallaw. It was the first of a series of harsher bills that the Radicalspassed that year.

Fourteenth Amendment

A constitutional amendment, drafted by Radical Republicans in 1866 andratified in 1868,that ensured that the liberties guaranteed to blacks in the CivilRights Act of 1866 couldnot be taken away. Like the Civil Rights Act, the Fourteenth Amendmentgranted citizenship to all Americans regardless of race (exceptNative Americans, who did not gain full citizenship until the twentiethcentury). The amendment consequently reversed the Supreme Court’s DredScott v. Sanforddecision of 1857.

Freedmen’s Bureau

A government agency established by Congress in 1865 todistribute food, supplies, and confiscated land to former slaves.Although the bureau’s worth proved questionable because of corruptionwithin the organization and external pressure from southern whites (includingPresident Andrew Johnson), it successfully established schoolsfor blacks throughout the South.

Ku Klux Klan (KKK)

A secret society formed in Tennessee in 1866 toterrorize blacks. Racist whites formed the KKK as aviolent reaction to Congress’s passage of the Civil RightsAct of 1866.Within a few years, the Klan had numerous branches in every southernstate. Klansmen donned white sheets and threatened, beat, and evenkilled “upstart” blacks. Congress finally passed the Ku KluxKlan Act in 1871 tocurb Klan activity and restore order in the South.

Ku Klux Klan Actof 1871

A congressional bill passed in response to widespread KuKlux Klan violence throughout the South. The Klan had beenintimidating, beating, and murdering blacks in every southern statesince 1866, andmany blacks, though newly enfranchised, avoided the polls out offear for their lives. Although violence spiraled out of controlby the late 1860sand early 1870sbecause state legislatures turned a blind eye, the Ku Klux KlanAct restored order in the South in time for the elections of 1872.

Liberal Republicans

A political party that was formed prior to the electionsof 1872 by Republicanswho disagreed with moderate and Radical Republican ideologies.The Liberal Republicans campaigned on a platform of governmentreform, reduced government spending, and anti-corruption measures.They also wanted to end military Reconstruction in the South andbring about a swift restoration of the Union.

Military ReconstructionAct

See First Reconstruction Act.


President Andrew Johnson’s plan for Reconstruction,which lasted from 1865–1867.Johnson, a Democrat from Tennessee, allowed southern states to reenterthe Union, but only after 10 percentof the voting population took loyalty oaths to the United States.Johnson’s Presidential Reconstruction was similar toLincoln’s Ten-Percent Plan, though Johnson pardonedthousands of high-ranking Confederate officials. Johnson was alsoa critic of the Freedmen’s Bureau and attempted todo away with the program. Presidential Reconstruction ended when RadicalRepublicans took control of Congress in 1867 in thewake of Johnson’s “Swing Around the Circle” speeches.

Proclamationof Amnesty and Reconstruction

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Reconstructionproposal to boost support for the war in the North andpersuade the South to surrender. The proclamation outlined Lincoln’s Ten-PercentPlan, which declared that secessioniststates could be readmitted into the Union after 10 percentof voters swore their allegiance to the U.S. government.

Radical Reconstruction

The period from 1867–1877 when RadicalRepublicans controlled the House of Representatives and theSenate, advocating for civil liberties and enfranchisement for formerslaves. The party, known for its harsh policies toward the secessionistSouth, passed progressive legislation like the Civil RightsAct of 1866,the First and Second Reconstruction Acts,the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871,the Civil Rights Act of 1875,and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and FifteenthAmendments.

Radical Republicans

A Reconstruction-era political party known for its progressivelegislation and harsh policies toward the South. The Radical Republicanspassed the Civil Rights Act of 1866,the First Reconstruction Act, the Second ReconstructionAct, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871,the Civil Rights Act of 1875,and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.Radical Republicans in the House also impeached President AndrewJohnson in 1868 butwere unable to secure enough votes for a conviction in the Senate.

Reconstruction Act

See First Reconstruction Act.

Resumption Act

An act that was passed in 1875 toreduce the amount of currency circulating in the economy duringthe Depression of 1873.Although the Resumption Act proved beneficial in the long run, itsshort-term effects on many Americans were detrimental. Democratsused these hard times to gain votes: Samuel J. Tilden endedup receiving more popular votes than Rutherford B. Hayes inthe disputed election of 1876.


White Unionist Republicans in the South who participatedin efforts to modernize and transform the region after the CivilWar. Though many scalawags had influential roles inthe new state governments, southern whites deemed them traitors.

Second ReconstructionAct

An act passed by Radical Republicans in 1867 thatput federal troops in charge of voter registration in the South.


An agricultural production system in the South throughwhich wealthy landowners leased individual plots of land on plantations towhite and black sharecroppers in exchange for a percentageof the yearly yield of crops. Blacks preferred this system to wagelabor because it gave them a sense of independence and responsibility. Ironically,though, sharecroppers had less autonomy than wage laborers, becausehigh debts bound them to the land, and most former slaves workedon plots owned by their former masters. By 1880,most southern blacks had become sharecroppers.

Slaughterhouse Cases

A series of Supreme Court cases (involving a New Orleansslaughterhouse) that effectively rendered the Fourteenth Amendment useless.The justices ruled that the amendment protected citizens from rightsinfringements only on a federal level, not on a state level. This decisionallowed state legislatures to suspend blacks’ legal and civil rightsas outlined in the Constitution.

“Swing Aroundthe Circle”

The name for a group of speeches in which President AndrewJohnson blamed Radical Republicans for the slownessof Reconstruction and race riots in the South after the passageof the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Johnsontraveled across the country, speaking out against Republicans, pro-warDemocrats, blacks, and anyone else who challenged him. Consequently,his often-abrasive speeches further tarnished the Democratic Party’salready scarred reputation and persuaded many northerners to voteRepublican in the congressional elections of 1866.

Ten-Percent Plan

Abraham Lincoln’s plan for Reconstruction,under which secessionist states could be readmitted to the Uniononly after 10 percentof their voting population took a loyalty oath to the Union. Lincoln agreedto pardon most Confederates but made no provision for safeguardingthe rights of former slaves. Many Radical Republicans believedhis plan was too lenient.

Tenure of Office Act

A bill that Congress passed during Andrew Johnson’spresidency that required Johnson to consult Congress before dismissingany congressionally appointed government official. When Johnsonignored Congress and fired Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton,the Radical Republicans in the House impeached Johnsonon the grounds that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act. AlthoughJohnson technically did violate the act, the Radicalsimpeached him primarily out of revenge, angry that he had excludedCongress from the Reconstruction process. The Senate later acquittedJohnson, so he was not removed from office.

Thirteenth Amendment

A constitutional amendment, ratified in 1865,that abolished slavery in the United States. Southern states wererequired to acknowledge and ratify the amendment before they werereadmitted to the Union.

United Statesv. Cruikshank

An 1876 SupremeCourt case that severely restricted Congress’s ability to enforcethe Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.The Court ruled that only states, not the U.S. government, had theright to prosecute Klansmen under the law. Without the threat offederal prosecution, the Ku Klux Klan and other racistwhites had free reign to terrorize blacks throughout the South.

Wade-Davis Bill

An 1864 billthat stipulated that southern states could reenter the Union onlyafter 50 percent oftheir voters pledged allegiance to the United States. RadicalRepublicans passed the bill in response to AbrahamLincoln’s Ten-Percent Plan, which they believedwas too lenient. Lincoln ultimately pocket-vetoed thebill, so it did not come into effect. The Wade-Davis Bill was thefirst of many clashes between the White House and Congress for controlover the Reconstruction process.

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Whiskey Ring

A group of government officials who embezzled millionsof dollars of excise tax revenue from the U.S. Treasury. The WhiskeyRing scandal damaged President Ulysses S. Grant’sreputation and affected central figures in the White House—the president’sown personal secretary was indicted in the conspiracy but was acquittedafter Grant testified to his innocence.