Timeline of Reconstruction in North Carolina


  • Union troops win the Battle of New Bern in March. Thousands African Americans seek freedom behind Union lines in New Bern.
  • Vincent Colyer sets up night schools for freed people.


  • Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Recruitment of African American soldiers begins.



  • The Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery in the United States, is approved in January and ratified in December. Congress establishes the Freedmen's Bureau in March.
  • The Civil War effectively ends with Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9.
  • President Lincoln is assassinated on April 15. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes president.
  • President Johnson presents plans for Reconstruction.
  • Freedmen’s Convention takes place in Raleigh on September 29.
  • North Carolina holds a constitutional convention on October 2.
  • Congress refuses to readmit North Carolina in December.
  • States enact Black Codes.


  • The Ku Klux Klan is created in Tennessee.
  • Congress approves the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • North Carolina refuses to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Radical Republicans gain control in Congress.
  • Congress expands the Freedmen's Bureau’s responsibilities and powers.


  • The Reconstruction Acts are passed over Johnson's veto, initiating Congressional Reconstruction.
  • The Union League and Abraham Lincoln League become active recruiting black voters in Craven County.


  • The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified, entitling all persons born or naturalized in the United States to citizenship and equal protection under the laws of the United States.
  • North Carolina is readmitted to the Union.
  • Andrew Johnson is impeached by Congress, but is acquitted by one vote.


  • Former Union General Ulysses S. Grant becomes president.
  • The Freedman’s Bureau leaves North Carolina.


  • Hiram Revels of Mississippi (born in Fayetteville, North Carolina) is the first African American elected to the United States Senate.
  • The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, granting the right to vote to all male citizens regardless of color or previous condition of servitude.
  • Three African American representatives from Craven County are elected to the General Assembly.
  • Conservative government is reestablished in North Carolina, "redeeming" the state.


  • Governor William Holden publishes a list of crimes committed by the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Act to Enforce Fourteenth Amendment (Ku Klux Klan Act) is passed in Congress.


  • Democrat Zebulon Vance is elected Governor of North Carolina.


  • The last federal troops leave South Carolina, effectively ending the Federal government's presence in the South.

Source Citation:

Exhibit Text, Claiming Citizenship: Political Activism,Days of Jubilee,Tryon Palace, New Bern, N.C.


Credit text

From "Claiming Citizenship: Political Activism," part of the Days of Jubilee exhibit.