Glossary - War’s End and Reconstruction

assimilation – the process of absorbing one group into the culture or customs of another group or population

Black Code – a series of laws enacted by some southern states that restricted the rights of freedmen after the Civil War

Carpetbaggers – northerners who moved to the South after the Civil War with the purpose of carrying out Congress's Reconstruction plan or for personal financial and/or political gain; so called because of the tapestry bags used for travel during the time period.

confiscation – seizure of private property by an authority as forfeit to the public treasury

Convention of the Freedmen of North Carolina – two meetings held in 1865 and 1866 in which African Americans in North Carolina expressed their desires for equal rights with whites in many areas, but most especially in terms of education and politics.

Fourteenth Amendment – the Reconstruction Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which established the fundamental principles of citizenship and equal protection under the law; granted full citizenship rights to the former slaves

Freedmen’s Bureau – an agency of the federal government established in 1865 to assist the newly freed slaves in areas of health, education, and in establishing new homes and jobs.

Kirk-Holden War – term used to describe the instance of Governor William W. Holden's use of the Shoffner Act provisions in Alamance and Caswell Counties to suppress Klan activities in those areas which ultimately led to Holden's impeachment and removal from office

Ku Klux Klan – organization established during Reconstruction which started as a social fraternity in Tennessee in 1866; the Klan soon became a force in opposition to Republican politics, especially black suffrage; the Klan promoted white supremacy and used violence and terrorism to intimidate black and white Republican voters in the post Civil War era.

Ordinance of Secession – passed on May 20, 1861, this resolution of separation of North Carolina from the Union and the subsequent adoption of the provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America, officially placed the state in the Confederacy.

partisan – a person who firmly adheres to the beliefs of a party, person or cause sometimes with a blind and unyielding allegiance

provisional governor – a governor appointed or asked to serve in a temporary capacity until a general election can be held to duly elect a new governor

Radical Republicans – those members of Congress who felt President Johnson’s plan for reconstructing the South was too lenient and allowed the freedmen to remain subjugated by the white elite in the South; the Radical Republicans lobbied for and succeeded in passing stiffer requirements for southern states to regain statehood in the Union.

reconciliation – the act of restoring to harmony and good relations

repudiated war debts – the instance where a government which borrowed money to finance a war refuses to repay their creditors

repudiation – the refusal of public authorities to acknowledge or repay a debt

Scalawags – a derogatory term used by conservative whites in the South to describe other southern whites who actively supported the Republican Party during Reconstruction

sharecropping – the agricultural system whereby landless farmers rent land and purchase goods on credit with the agreement to pay the landlord or merchant with a share of the crop they produce

Shoffner Act – law introduced by state senator T. M. Shoffner of Alamance County and passed in 1870 which allowed the governor to declare military law and suspend habeas corpus in areas where Klan violence opposed the civil government and raged out of control

Status quo antebellum – the way society, politics and economics were before the war

Thirteenth Amendment – the amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibited the institution of slavery

white supremacy – a doctrine based on a belief in the natural superiority of the white race over other races and the corresponding necessity for the subordination of nonwhites to whites in all relationships


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