Supreme Court issues Dred Scott Decision which declares unconstitutional the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
December 4, 1860
Sen. John Crittenden (D-KY), proposes “Crittenden Compromise” which would have prohibited interference with slavery in South.
January 29, 1861
Kansas admitted by Congress with constitution prohibiting slavery.
March 4, 1861
President Lincoln inaugurated.
General Benjamin Butler admits fugitive slaves as “contraband” of war.
July 23, 1861
Crittenden Resolution passes House of Representatives, declaring objective of war is not to interfere with slavery.
August 6, 1861
Congress passed First Confiscation Act which emancipated slaves used in the war against the Union.
General Benjamin Butler treats slaves in his jurisdiction in Virginia as “contraband.”
August 30, 1861
General John C. Frémont orders emancipation of slaves in Missouri.
September 11, 1861
President Lincoln asks General Fremont to alter his emancipation degrees.
Black troops recruited by Union officials in Kansas.
General Halleck issues Order No. 3 expelling blacks from Union lines.
Secretary of War Simon issue report in which he originally advocated emancipation and use of former slaves in army.
December 5, 1861
Bills to abolish slavery introduced in Congress.
March 6, 1862
President Lincoln requests Congress to pass a joint resolution urging compensated emancipation.
March 10, 1862
President Lincoln meets with Border State congressmen about compensated emancipation.
March 13, 1862
Congress passes legislation which forbade the army and navy forcibly to return runaway slaves to their masters.
April 3, 1862
Senate votes to abolish slavery in District of Columbia.
April 3, 1862
General David Hunter ask permission to use former slaves in army.
April 7, 1862
House appoints Select Committee on Emancipation and Colonization.
April 11, 1862
House votes to abolish slavery in District of Columbia.
April 13, 1862
General Hunter frees slaves behind union lines in Department of South.
April 14, 1862
President Lincoln signs bill emancipating all slaves in District of Columbia and territories.
April 24, 1862
Senate approves anti-slave trade treaty with Britain. It also authorizes diplomatic representation to Haiti and Liberia.
May 9, 1862
General David Hunter frees all slaves in Department of South.
May 10, 1862
House passes resolution calling for cooperation “with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State at its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.”
May 19, 1862
President Lincoln revokes General Hunter’s emancipation of blacks in Southern Department.
June 19, 1862
President Lincoln signs legislation abolishing slavery in territories.
June 19, 1862
President Lincoln discusses idea for Emancipation Proclamation.
July 4, 1862
Senator Charles Sumner pushes President Lincoln for emancipation.
July 11, 1862
Congress approves legislation implementing anti-slave trade treaty with Britain.
July 12, 1862
President Lincoln meets with congressional representatives of border states to push for compensated emancipation. Senate passes compensation bill and sends to President.
July 14, 1862
President proposes bill for compensated emancipation.
July 17, 1862
Congress passes Second Confiscation Act prohibiting forcible return of slaves from one state to another. President Lincoln approves.
July 17, 1862
Militia Act passed which authorizes use of black soldiers and emancipation of former slaves-turned-soldiers of rebel masters. Under the act, black soldiers were to receive pay at a rate $3/month less than white soldiers.
July 21-22, 1862
President Lincoln discusses Emancipation Proclamation with Cabinet.
August 6, 1862
President Lincoln tells a group of Westerners that he would use blacks as laborers but not as soldiers.
August 10, 1862
General David Hunter dissolves his black regiments.
August 14, 1862
Delegation of Black leaders visits President Lincoln, who advances his ideas about colonization in Central America.
August 20, 1862
New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley publishes open letter to President Lincoln entitled “The Prayer of Twenty Millions.”
August 21, 1862
Confederate War Department authorizes Generals David Hunter and John Phelps, if captured, held for execution for their role in authorizing recruitment of black Union troops.
August 22, 1862
President Lincoln announces to Cabinet that he has drafted Emancipation Proclamation.
August 22, 1862
General Benjamin Butler issues General Order No. 63 to enlist black volunteers, known as the Native Guards, in his army.
August 25, 1862
Blacks were officially accepts into the Southern Department of the Union Army under an order by Secretary Stanton to General Rufus Saxton.
September 11, 1862
President Lincoln authorizes contract with Chiriqui Improvement Company opening Panama to colonization by ex-slaves.
September 17, 1862
Battle of Antietam. Confederate retreat after Battle of Antietam provides Union “victory” needed for Emancipation Proclamation.
September 22, 1862
Cabinet meeting at which President Lincoln announces Emancipation Proclamation.
Black troops involved in Union incursions into Missouri from Kansas.
Attorney General Edward Bates issues ruling that citizenship is conferred on the basis of birthplace.
November 30, 1862
Death penalty ordered for five blacks taken as Confederate prisoners.
December 2, 1862
President’s Annual Message to Congress in which he pushed for compensated emancipation.
December 9, 1862
Legislation introduced in U.S. House authorizing 100 black regiments.
December 30, 1862
Workers of Manchester, England send President a proclamation praising his stand on slavery.
January 1, 1863
President Lincoln signs Emancipation Proclamation.
January 14, 1863
President Lincoln against General John Dix about the potential use blacks to garrison Yorktown and Fort Monroe.
Robert Gould Shaw appointed colonel of 54th Massachusetts Regiment of black troops.
Department of Army begins to encourage black recruitment.
March 16, 1863
Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton appoints American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission.
March 25, 1863
Secretary of War Stanton places General Lorenzo Thomas in charge of black recruitment in the West.
March 26, 1863
West Virginia votes for gradual emancipation.
April 24, 1863
General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Orders No. 100 which granted blacks specific protection under standard practices of war.
May 22, 1863
War Department issues General Order 143 to establish standards for black recruitment and establish Bureau of Colored Troops.
May 23, 1863
54th Massachusetts, first black regiment, parades in Boston.
May 27, 1863
Black soldiers fight in the Battle of Port Hudson in Louisiana, the first major battle in which they participated.
June 7, 1863
Confederate attack at Milliken’s Bend is repulsed by black soldiers.
July 13, 1863
Draft riots in New York City. Colored Orphan Asylum is burned.
July 18, 1863
Colonel Shaw leads 54th Massachusetts in assault on Fort Wagner.
Exchange of Union and Confederate soldiers suspended.
August 10, 1863
Frederick Douglas and Senator Samuel Pomeroy to discuss problems of black soldiers.
November 5, 1863
Louisiana blacks ask Louisiana’s military governor for voting rights.
December 8, 1863
President Lincoln issues Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.
February 28, 1864
President Lincoln sends Lorenzo Thomas to the West to take charge of the “contraband and leasing business.”
March 1, 1864
House passes legislation to create Freedmen’s Bureau but Senate doesn’t act on legislation.
March 12, 1864
Louisiana blacks meet with President Lincoln.
March 13, 1864
President Lincoln writes Louisiana Gov. Michael Hahn urging extending suffrage to blacks who are “very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks.”
March 15, 1864
President Lincoln transfers civil authority in Louisiana to a civilian governor.
March 16, 1864
Arkansas state constitution abolishes slavery.
April 6, 1864
Louisiana abolishes slavery.
April 8, 1864
Senate votes Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.
April 12, 1864
Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest attacks Fort Pillow; blacks defending the fort were murdered or enslaved — causing an uproar in the North.
Louisiana constitutional convention meets, abolishing slavery in the state.
May 11, 1864
Stephen A. Swails is commissioned as second lieutenant by Massachusetts Gov. John Andrew.
June 13, 1864
War Department rules that black slaves in Kentucky may be recruited for Army despite opposition of their white owners.
June 15, 1864
Thirteenth Amendment defeated in House of Representatives.
June 15, 1864
Congress passes legislation authorizes equal pay for black troops retroactively to January 1, 1864.
War Department relieves black troops of predominant burden for constructing fortifications.
September 5, 1864
Louisiana State Constition is ratified abolishing slavery.
September 6, 1864
Maryland abolishes slavery.
Delegation of Maryland blacks present inscribed Bible to President Lincoln.
November 8, 1864
Re-election of President Lincoln.
December 3, 1864
XXV Corps formed of black soldiers under Major General Godfrey Weitzel.
December 8, 1864
President Lincoln’s Annual Message to Congress.
January 6, 1865
House Representatives begins debate on Thirteenth Amendment.
January 31, 1865
Thirteenth Amendment passed by House of Representatives.
February 1, 1865
President Lincoln signs Thirteenth Amendment – though his signature was not authorized or required.
February 5, 1865
President proposes to Cabinet a message to Congress for compensated emancipation. The Cabinet unanimously rejected it, effectively killing the idea.
February 26, 1865
Martin R. Delany commissioned as a major in Department of South.
March 3, 1865
Congress sets up Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.
March 4, 1865
Second Inauguration of President Lincoln.
March 13, 1865
Confederates authorize recruitment of black soldiers.
April 11, 1865
Final public address by President Lincoln in which he argues for limited black suffrage and readmission of Louisiana.
December 18, 1865
Thirteenth Amendment goes into effect.