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Charles Chesnutt's Life...In Broader Terms

(This page was developed by a Berea College student as part of a course on Chesnutt)

Charles Chesnutt lived in a very historical era in American history. Throughout his life, he saw many events that shaped his life, as well as events that still shape our lives today. While many occurrences have been omitted, some of the most important ones are listed below, with several links at the end. The Civil War, The Reconstruction of the South, race riots in several prominent cities, and the long, hard battle for civil rights that he did not see recognized, where some of the things he experienced. Chesnutt also had many contemporary authors, so some of the publications of his time have also been listed to give an idea of what the time frame was like and how other people viewed their surroundings.
Dred Scott decision in which the Supreme Court declared Missouri Compromise unconstitutional

Charles Chesnutt is born
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow publishes The Courtship of Miles Standish

Stephen Douglas wins second term in Senate, defeating Abe Lincoln.
Legislature resolves to secede from Union immediately if a Republican president is elected.
John D. Rockefeller helps Negro buy his wife out of slavery.

May 16-Lincoln declared republican presidential nominee.
November 16-Linclon elected president.
December 20-South Carolina secedes from the Union.

April 15-Lincoln declares "state of insurrection."
May 6-Confederate Congress declares war on the United States.

Morrill Land Grant Act

Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address and issues the Emancipation Proclamation.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
President Lincoln is shot while attending Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth.
The Ku Klux Klan is organized

14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Race riots erupt in Memphis, TN

Reconstruction begins in the South
Howard University and Morehouse College open to help in the advancement of ex-slaves and other Negroes

14th Amendment ratified
Ulysses S. Grant is voted President of the United States
Twenty-eight holding seats in the Georgia legislature are expelled on grounds that
Negroes have the right to vote, but not to hold office

The first national Negro labor group is organized (Colored National Labor Union)

Civil Rights Act (Enforcement Act)
Two negroes, Joseph Rainey and the Reverand Hiram R. Revels, take seats in Congress

Congress is petitioned by the Colored National Labor Union for a system of educational and technological training

Civil Rights Act (Ku Klux Klan Act)
First Negro enters Naval Academy
Freedman's Bureau collapses

Civil Rights Act (Second)

In the United States v. Cruikshank, the Supreme Court restricts 14th Amendment to Civil Rights violations committed by states instead of individuals

Rutherford B. Hayes declared President
End of Reconstruction of the South

President Garfield is shot
Booker T. Washignton heads the Tuskegee Institute
Chester Arthur becomes president

Spellman College founded in the basement of a church for the education of Negroes
Nullification of Civil Rights Act of 1875

Grover Cleveland inaugurated as president

Negro banks founded in Washington D. C. and Richmond, VA
Benjamin Harrison elected president

Morrill Act (2nd)

Grover Cleveland becomes president for a second term

Frederick Douglass, one of the greatest aboloitionist and speakers for Negroes, passes away

Plessy v. Ferguson (Supreme Court Rule that "separate but equal" facilities were constitutional)

William McKinley is sworn in as president

Wilmington race riots

W. E. B. Dubois publishes a study based on the history and environment rather than genetics or race as factors, called The Philadelphia Negro

G. H. White, a representative for the Negroes, from North Carolina, introduced a bill to make lynching a federal crime, but the bill is defeated
National Negro Business League is organized by Booker T. Washington
W. E. B. Dubois warns that the biggest problem for the new century will be the "color line"
William McKinley elected for his second term as president

President McKinley is shot and dies eight days later from an infection
Theodore Roosevelt sworn in as president

Orville and Wilbur Wright become "first in flight"
Jack London publishes The Call of the Wild

In Kentucky, a bill is passed which imposes a $1000 fine plus $100 a day against institutions admitting both white and black students

Roosevelt elected to full term as president
The Clansman, a novel about the KKK written by Thomas Dixon Jr. is published
Movement called for by W. E. B. Dubois gathers, urging racial equality

When the revival of the KKK is urged along with disenfranchisement of the Negroes by the press in Atlanta, violence and rioting begin in Brownsville, Georgia

William Taft wins presidential election over William Jennings Bryan
Springfield, IL race riots

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N. A. A. C. P.) is founded by W. E. B. Dubois, Jane Adam, John Dewey, and John Milholland

The Lincoln Institute, meant to provide vocational training for Negroes, open with protest from Negro leadrers such as W. E. B. Dubois
Woodrow Wilson is elected president
Titanic sinks after hitting iceberg

Robert Frost publishes North of Boston, his first book
Harriet Tubman, a fugitive slave and abolitionist, dies

Supreme Court declared restrictive residential ordinances in Louisville Kentucky illegal
KKK revived by William J. Simmons of Atlanta
Booker T. Washington dies

Woodrow Wilson elected to second presidential term

The United States enters World War I
East St. Louis, IL race riots

World War I ends

Chicago race riots

1920Women gain the right to vote
Warren G. Harding wins presidential election
National Negro Baseball League founded by Rube Foster

Tulsa race riots

The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, which would have made law officers be fined for allowing Negroes to be lynched, failed in the senate

Ministers and businessmen in Greenswood, Mississippi lead a mob in the lynching of 2 negroes
A minister known for "preaching equality" is shot by mob
KKK leader receives life imprisonment after being convicted for the rape and murder of an Indianapolis woman

1927Calvin Coolidge wins presidential election for second term
Television is first introduced to the American public

Hoover becomes president, promising "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage"
Blackbirds of 1928, featuring an all-Negro cast, opens to popular acclaim

Stock Market Crash
An all negro union receives a charter from the American Federation of Labor
Amos 'n' Andy, a radio program, becomes a hit while offending many negroes
Hot Chocolates, a negro musical revue by Fats Waller, opens

Two negroes accused of killing two whites are dragged from jail and lynched by mob numbering thousands

Scottsboro 9 scheduled to die for rape

Retrial for Scottsboro 9
Laura Ingalls Wilder issues first in series of books titled Little House
Charles Chesnutt dies


The Civil War
Race Riots
Scottsboro 9
Timeline compiled by Kimberly Branson using the Chronicle of America, Copyright 1995 edited by Clifton Daniel, John Kirshon, and Ralph Berens

  Page created January 1999
Last update: Jan, 29 1999
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