Tennessee State Library and Archives


Year State and National Events Slavery and Racial Issues African American Institutions and Accomplishments
1866 By the beginning of 1866 President Johnson has pardoned more than 7,000 Southern men denied amnesty under the $20,000 property clause.

Pres. Johnson vetoes  the bill renewing the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Pres. Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866, designed to put an end to the Black Codes, which will survive in spite of Congress’s efforts.

Both houses of Congress overturn Johnson’s vetoes of both the Freedmen’s Bureau bill and the Civil Rights Act.

The Tennessee General Assembly passes legislation giving persons of color equal benefits with whites under the law.

Congress approves the 14th Amendment  and sends it to the states for ratification.  It will require more than two years to be ratified by the states.

Congress again overrides a Presidential veto to pass the supplemental
Freedmen’s Bureau Bill.

Governor Brownlow, a slave owner but also a dedicated Unionist, moves to return Tennessee to the Union.
Tennessee becomes the third state, and the first former Confederate state,
to ratify the 14th Amendment.

Tennessee is the first former Confederate state readmitted to the Union.

A mob of whites attacks a black suffrage meeting in New Orleans; 38 die, 150 are injured. 

President Johnson undertakes a disastrous speaking tour of the Northern
States; his hostile responses to the crowds cost him much support.

Republicans, winning more than a 2/3 majority in Congressional elections, are now guaranteed to override any Presidential vetoes in the new session.

President Johnson announces to Congress that the Union has been restored. 
An African American delegation led by Frederick Douglass meets with President Johnson.  Johnson says he will oppose black voting rights.

Virginia Freedmen parading to celebrate the Civil Rights Act are attacked by whites; five people die in the ensuing race riot.

A race riot in Memphis results in 48 deaths, five rapes, many injuries, and the destruction of 90 black homes, 12 schools, & four churches.

The Ku Klux Klan is founded in Pulaski, TN, by a group of Confederate veterans.

Most Tennessee land confiscated from Confederate loyalists is returned after 1866.  Most former slaves are now gang laborers or share-croppers.
Nashville Normal and Theological Institute opens.  The school is renamed Roger Williams University in 1883.

The second Tennessee State Colored Men’s Convention meets in Nashville to advocate black suffrage.
1867 Overriding President Johnson’s veto, Congress grants the black citizens of
the District of Columbia the right to vote. 

Tennessee African Americans are granted the right to vote and to hold political office.

Tennessee passes an act to reorganize public schools in the state, with provisions for black and white children to be taught in separate schools.

Beginning of “Congressional Reconstruction” –four Military Reconstruction Acts divide the South into five military districts.

The Second Reconstruction Act instructs military commanders to register voters and call for constitutional conventions.

Induction of Nathan Bedford Forrest into the KKK and his subsequent election as Grand Wizard of the Klan.

President Johnson attempts unsuccessfully to fire Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, triggering a deeper conflict with Congress  and Ulysses S. Grant.

Voter registration is completed in the ten Southern states subject to the
Reconstruction Acts. 

Diminishing Republican strength in the Northern states persuades the party to get the South on board before the next Presidential election. 
Formal political restructuring of the Ku Klux Klan in Nashville, to oppose black equality and Republican leadership.

The KKK holds its first anniversary parade in Pulaski, Tennessee.

First reports of Ku Klux Klan night-riding surface in middle Tennessee.
Tennessee’s African American leaders meet to organize the black vote.  In 1867 they will register around 40,000 African American men to vote.

Howard University is officially incorporated by Congress.  It is the third university established in Washington, D. C.

Tennessee holds the South’s first statewide elections to include black voters, electing Republicans in nearly all positions.

Fisk University is founded – the first black college in Tennessee. 

Black Nashvillians vote for the first time in city elections, electing two black councilmen; one of the two is not seated.

Central Tennessee College is chartered in Nashville.  In 1876 Meharry Medical School will become part of the college, until 1915.

Tennessee Manual Labor University, modeled after Tolbert Fanning’s Franklin College, is established on the Murfreesboro Road near Nashville
1868 Southern lawmakers begin to work together in constitutional conventions, the first US political meetings to include large numbers of black men.

Andrew Johnson is the first President to be impeached by a house of Congress; he is acquitted in the Senate by a single vote on May 26.

Congress readmits Arkansas to the Union.  It is the second state to be approved, nearly two years after Tennessee’s readmission.

Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina rejoin the Union.

Alabama is readmitted to the Union.

The Fourteenth Amendment is finally ratified by enough states to become law.  [Tennessee, July 1866, was the third state to ratify.]

Governor Brownlow calls the TN Legislature into special session to demand that any further Ku Klux Klan activity be punished with death.

Tennessee enacts an “anti-Klan” law, forbidding “prowling” by night “for the purpose of disturbing the peace, or alarming the peaceable citizens.

TN legislators assure Pres. Johnson that the new militia law will be used only in extreme circumstances, or when federal troops are unavailable.

U. S. Grant  is elected President.  Newly enfranchised Southern black voters cast 700,000 votes for the Republican ticket. 
Ku Klux Klan members make a public show of the organization’s strength
with parades and confrontations across Tennessee.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, insists the KKK is not motivated by racial hatred but threatens only “radicals” – carpetbaggers, spies, & “scalawags.”

The Georgia State Legislature expels its newly elected black legislators. 
President Grant immediately imposes military rule on the state.

Governor Brownlow issues a call for militia companies to form throughout the state and assemble in Nashville.

The Opelousas Massacre in Louisiana results in the death of  200-300
blacks at the hands of violent whites, many of them prominent citizens.
Every legislator pictured in a photograph of the 1868 Louisiana State Legislature is black.

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute opens in Hampton, Virginia.  Like Fisk, it will train thousands of African American teachers.

James J. Harris and P. B. S. Pinchback are the first black delegates to a Republican National Convention.  Grant is nominated unopposed.

Oscar J. Dunn, a former slave, is elected lieutenant governor of Louisiana

Rev. Francis L. Cardozo (1837-1903) is elected Secretary of State in South Carolina, the first black cabinet member.

Five African Americans are elected to the Nashville city council. `
1869 Congress approves the 15th Amendment and send it to the states for ratification.

U.S. Grant is inaugurated the nation’s eighteenth President (1869-1877).

The first rail line to cross the continent is completed.  It will dramatically change the nation’s labor and employment patterns.

Tennessee rejects the 15th Amendment, and does not join the other states later in post-ratifying it. 
Tennessee is the first state to replace a bi-racial Republican state government with an all-white Democratic government.

John W. Menard, Republican Representative from Louisiana, is barred from his seat by white Congressmen and pleads his case to be seated.

Following a private meeting with President Grant, Nathan Bedford Forrest  disbands the Ku Klux Klan.  However, Klan violence does not end.

City councilman Randal Brown urges Nashville blacks to join the Black Exodus and homestead movement westward.

Black Georgia legislator Abram Colby is kidnapped and whipped by the Klan but continues to campaign against Klan violence.
Massachusetts elects the first African Americans to serve in a legislative assembly: Edward G. Walker and Charles L. Mitchell.

The Freedmen’s Bureau reports that there are now nearly 3,000 schools in the South, serving over 150,000 black students.

Birth date of Jesse M. H. Graham in Clarksville, Tennessee, according to legislative record.  Actual birth year was probably 1859.
1870 Grant proposes a treaty to annex what is now the Dominican Republic to find land where freed slaves can settle.  The treaty is never approved.

The Tennessee Constitutional Convention begins.

Virginia is readmitted to the Union.

The 15th  Amendment to the Constitution is ratified by 29 of the 37 states, guaranteeing the right of African American men to vote. 

The Tennessee Constitutional Convention ends, having adopted the current Constitution.  It outlaws slavery and ensures universal suffrage.

Mississippi is readmitted to the Union.
North Carolina Governor Holden sends for federal troops to help control the Ku Klux Klan.  Public backlash will cost him the next election.

Texas is readmitted to the Union.

President Grant signs the first of the Enforcement Acts, making the bribing, intimidation, or racial discrimination of voters  federal crimes.

Georgia is readmitted to the Union – the last of the Confederacy to return.
Although blacks comprise one-third of Middle Tennessee’s population, only six percent of black families own their own land. 

A large number of convicts are leased from the main prison in Nashville to
three separate railroad companies in Tennessee. 
The 1870 Census shows that African Americans make up 12.7% of the U.S. population (4,880,009 of 39,818,449).

Most black members remaining in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, leave to form the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.

Due to the political skills of African American leader Edward Shaw, Memphis elects several black councilmen during the 1870s and 1880s.
Jasper J. Wright, an African American judge, is elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Hiram Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, is the first black member of the US Senate. He fills the remainder of Jefferson Davis’s vacated term.

Joseph Hayne Rainey, born a slave, fills an unexpired term in the U.S. House.  He will be the longest-serving black Congressman until the 1950s.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
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Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: 615.741.2997 Fax: 615.741.6471
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