So What Happened?

Several more battles took place after the Battle of Gettysburg, but one in particular was important. At Appomattox Court House, Virginia, the Union Army won a significant victory. After a 12 day battle, the Confederate Army under Robert E. Lee was forced to surrender. This was the last big battle of the Civil War, and this is considered the end of the Civil War. With an army that was demoralized and shrinking in size with deaths, wounds, and deserters, Lee realized that he needed to surrender. He could not continue to fight. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. You can color a picture of the event below, or you can visit the Appomattox Court House website and become a virtual junior ranger!

Following the Civil War, America had a lot of rebuilding to do. There were still a lot of hard feelings that existed between the northern and southern states. Some people felt very strongly that the Confederacy had been right all along. One of those people was a man named John Wilkes Booth. John was an actor, who felt strongly that President Lincoln had done a great disservice to the southern states. He felt so strongly about this that on April 15, 1865, John Wilkes Booth came up behind President Lincoln inside Ford’s Theater and shot him in the back of the head. President Lincoln would die from his injury. Andrew Johnson would then become president. If you would like to try a digital escape room based on the President’s assassination, click here!

However, before his death, President Lincoln was able to approve the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment outlawed the practice of slavery in America. It was not ratified until after his death, in December of 1865. But the 13th Amendment was a really big deal! It freed all the African American people who had previously been enslaved against their will. Eventually, the 14th and 15th Amendments would also be passed and ratified, although President Lincoln did not live to see it. The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all previously enslaved people, and the 15th Amendment granted them the right to vote (although women still did not have the ability to vote at this time). But these amendments were really instrumental in helping America to rebuild. Do you think that you could explain the amendments below and create a symbol for them?

Amendments 13th 14th 15th Description Symbol © 2014 Brain Wrinkles

The time period after the American Civil War is known as the Reconstruction Era. Just because the amendments we talked about had been passed did not mean that life got any easier for formerly enslaved people. They had no land, no money, and many people still believed that they were not as good as white people. Unfortunately, this meant that many states created laws that directly impacted African Americans and hurt them in different ways. These were known as “Jim Crow” Laws. Because these freed people did not have any land or many, they were often forced to work as sharecroppers, a very poor existence often on the very land they had worked as slaves before the war. Or, white northerners would move into the area and take advantage of these people; those northerners were called carpetbaggers. Just because these people were now free did not mean that their troubles were over. They were often persecuted, mistreated, and killed just for being themselves. However, the passage and ratification of these amendments was a first step in the right direction. Below, see if you can find or answer some of the terms we talked about! Don’t feel bad if you need to look up some of the clues!

Now that we have learned about the people, places, and outcomes of the Civil War, I want to leave you with a tasty recipe from that time! So grab mom or dad, and make some Ginger Nuts! Remember, many of the places where these battles took place are now part of the National Park Service! That means that you can go visit them sometime on vacation, and I urge you to do so! You won’t regret it! I hope you enjoyed learning about the American Civil War, and I hope you come back next week to learn some more!

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