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January 1866

Freedmenís Bureau Bill:
On January 5, Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois introduced a bill to extend the life and expand the powers of the Freedmenís Bureau.  An amended version was approved by the Judiciary Committee, which Trumbull chaired, and reported to the full Senate on January 11.

Civil Rights Bill:
On January 5, Senator Trumbull introduced a bill making denial of civil rights a federal crime.  After approval by the Judiciary Committee, which Trumbull chaired, the bill was reported to the full Senate on January 11.  On February 1, Trumbull added a citizenship clause to the bill.

February 1866

Veto of Freedmenís Bureau Bill:
The Freedmenís Bureau Bill was passed by the Senate on January 25 and the House on February 6.  President Andrew Johnson disposed of it on February 19 with a veto, which the Senate failed the next day to override with a two-thirds majority.  On February 23, Republican Congressman James Wilson of Iowa introduced a new Freedmenís Bureau Bill, which was referred to the Joint Committee on Reconstruction.

April 1866

Override of Civil Rights Act Veto:
The Civil Rights Bill was passed by the Senate on February 2 and the House on March 13.  President Andrew Johnsonís veto on March 27 broke the already strained working relationship between the president and Republican moderates, who thereafter joined with Radical Republicans to oppose Johnsonís Reconstruction policies.  The Civil Rights Bill then passed with two-thirds majorities in the Senate on April 6 and House on April 9, and became law. 

This was the first time in American history that Congress had overridden a presidential veto.

May 1866

Memphis Race Riot:
On May 1-4, a race riot in Memphis, Tennessee, left 46 blacks and two whites dead, five black women raped, and hundreds of black homes, schools, and churches vandalized or destroyed by arson.

June 1866

Congressional Passage of Fourteenth Amendment:
On April 21, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens introduced a plan to combine the various proposals into the Fourteenth Amendment, which the committee approved on April 28.  It received a two-thirds majority in the House on May 10.  Republican Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan added a citizenship clause, which was approved by the Senate on May 31.  The Senate passed the Fourteenth Amendment with a two-thirds majority on June 8.  The House approved the Senate substitute measure on June 13, and Secretary of State William Henry Seward officially submitted the Fourteenth Amendment to the states on June 16 for ratification or rejection.

Ratification Process:
On June 25, Connecticut became the first state to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.

July 1866

Ratification Process:
New Hampshire and Tennessee ratified the Fourteenth Amendment on July 6 and July 19, respectively.

Override of Freedmenís Bureau Bill Veto:
The House passed the new Freedmenís Bureau Bill on May 29, and the Senate passed an amended version on June 26.  A joint conference committee proposed a compromise measure, which passed both chambers on July 3.  President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Freedmenís Bureau Bill on July 16, but Congress overrode the veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers that same day.

Tennessee Readmitted:
In response to Tennesseeís ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, a congressional joint resolution readmitting the state back into full and equal status in the Union was approved by the U.S. Senate on July 21 and the U.S. House on July 23.

New Orleans Race Riot:
On July 30, 1866, white delegates and black supporters assembled in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a state constitutional convention aimed at enfranchising black men and disfranchising former Confederates.  A fight on the street outside the hall escalated into a riot, which left 34 blacks and three white Republicans dead, and over 100 others injured.

August 1866

National Union Convention:
On August 14-16, President Andrew Johnson and his supporters met in Philadelphia hoping to create a new political party composed of Democrats and conservative Republicans and dedicated to upholding statesí rights.

Swing Around the Circle:
Following the National Union Convention, President Johnson and key administration figures traveled from August 28 to September 15 on a campaign speaking tour across the nation called the ďswing around the circle.Ē  It was a public-relations fiasco, undermining popular and congressional support for the president.

September 1866

Ratification Process:
New Jersey and Oregon ratified the Fourteenth Amendment on September 11 and September 19, respectively.

October 1866

Ratification Process:
Vermont ratified the Fourteenth Amendment on October 30

November 1866

State and Congressional Elections:
Success in state elections gave Republicans control of enough legislatures to gain 18 seats in the U.S. Senate (state legislatures elected U.S. senators until ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913).  In the congressional elections, Republican picked up 37 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.  As a result, Republican majorities in the upcoming 40th Congress (March 1867ĖMarch 1869) were more than enough to override presidential vetoes.


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