Timeline of Emancipation Discourse from 1865

This chronology highlights the rhetoric of emancipation movements after the Civil War in the history of American public discourse, especially labor, civil rights, anti-Vietnam and feminism. Its purpose as a tool is to demonstrate the interrelation of these movements.


Civil War to Spanish American War


Lincoln Assassinated; Andrew Johnson becomes President.


The Molly Maguires , a secret society of Irish mine workers, terrorize the coal region of Schuylkill County, PA.

Womens Rights Conventions are folded into a new American Equal Rights Association dedicated to achieving suffrage (the right to vote) for women and freedmen together. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans passed the usconstitution-amendments, worded to specify "male inhabitants", establishing a precedent that merely being a citizen did not guarantee the right to vote even as it extended citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States.


First Annual Convention of the American_Equal_Rights_Association. Also the Last.
Despite the efforts of the American_Equal_Rights_Association, Kansas held two referendums for amendments to the state constitution, one promoting woman suffrage and one promoting "negro" suffrage. In the debates the two competed against one another with proponents of one decrying the other.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Kansas Referendum Address.


Knights of Labor founded as a secret society. Ulysses S. Grant, Rep., becomes President.


The Panic of 1873 initiates the Long Depression (1873-1879).


Civil Rights Act of 1875 barred discrimination against Negroes in public accommodations and conveyances.


The Great Railroad Strike. Founding of the Socialist Labor Party, begun in 1876 as the Workingmen's Party of America and changed its name to the Socialist Labor Party of America in 1877. Rutherford B. Hayes, Rep., becomes President. The last federal troops are withdrawn from States formerly in secession, marking the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow era.


Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School founded. International Working People's Association (Black International) founded. "Chicago Idea": One Big Union. Manifesto of Chicago Socialist Revolutionary Club written by Johann Most. Chester Arthur succeeds James Garfield as President.


Civil Rights Act of 1875 ruled unconstitutional by an 8-1 majority in Civil Rights Cases, 109 U. S. 3 (1883).


The Haymarket Riot. August Spies, Address to the Court. American Federation of Labor founded by Samuel Gompers.


Mississippi passed its poll tax and literacy law, largely disenfranchising its colored population. NWSA (National Woman Suffrage Association) and AWSA (American Woman Suffrage Association) merged to form NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association).


World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago brings together many features of the Progressive mode of discourse. 1892 marks the peak year for lynchings in the United States. Ida B. Wells publishes Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. Financial Panic of 1893. American Railway Union formed with Eugene Debs as its president.


Successful American_Railway_Union strike against the Great Northern Railroad. Eugene Debs was convicted of obstructing the US Mail for his role in the Pullman_Strike, the Union was suppressed and many of its members blacklisted. While jailed in Woodstock IL for 6 months, Debs converted to Socialism.


Booker T. Washington delivers his Atlanta Exposition Address.


Plessy v. Ferguson ruled legal segregation constitutional, under the "separate but equal" doctrine. Eugene Debs supported William_Jennings_Bryan in the 1896 campaign.


William McKinley, president. Social_Democracy_of_America formed from remnants of American_Railway_Union in 1897. Becomes Social_Democratic_Party_of_America in 1898.

Spanish American War to World War I


Spanish-American_War results in annexation of Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. Wilmington, NC Race Riot, November 10, 1898. End of black majority rule in Wilmington. Similar white race riots suppressed Negro suffrage around the country in the 1890s.


Formation of International_Ladies_Garment_Workers_Union.


Dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party merge with the Social_Democratic_Party_of_America to form the Socialist_Party_of_America. William_McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz. Vice President Theodore_Roosevelt became President.


Emmeline_Pankhurst founded the Womens_Social_and_Political_Union in London, marking the rise of militant suffragism.


Eugene Debs campaigned for President for the Socialist_Party_of_America; published American Movement.


Niagara_Movement founded by W._E._B._DuBois. Industrial_Workers_of_the_World founded. Eugene Debs speaks at the Founding Convention].


DuBois delivers his Niagara Movement Address at Harpers Ferry to the first public meeting of the Niagara Movement.


Debs campaigns as Socialist. Suffragists begin open-air soapbox campaigns. Race riot in Springfield, Ill in 1908 leads to the Lincoln Emancipation Conference, when a group of activists and intellectuals made plans that led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


Triangle Factory Fire, March 26, New York. 146 dead due to locked doors and dangerous conditions in upper story tenement factory.


Debs campaigns as Socialist; receives 6% (897,011 votes); most successful Socialist campaign in U.S. history. Woodrow_Wilson elected President. Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party endorses woman suffrage.


Alice_Paul organizes the Congressional Union within NAWSA.


August of 1914, World_War_I commences in Europe. Marcus_Garvey formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association.


National Woman's Party formed by Alice_Paul and Lucy_Burns. Trained in London by the Pankhursts, they broke with NAWSA over their conciliatory tactics and state rather than federal orientation. In the same year, Carrie_Chapman_Catt, newly elected president of NAWSA, repudiated the states right platform and announced a "winning plan" for a federal amendment.

World War I to World War II


American enters World_War_I; Congress passed the Espionage Act to control opposition to World War I; Bolshevik October_Revolution in Russia.


Eugene Debs, Canton Ohio speech defended Socialists jailed under the Sedition_Act_of_1918, which consisted of amendments to the Espionage_Act_of_1917. Eugene Debs, Statement to the Court on sentencing. Treaty of Versailles ends World_War_I.

Winston-Salem race riot erupts when a mob of workers from Inverness Mill descended on the Town Hall in an attempt to lynch a man being held there on suspicion of rape.


The First_Red_Scare, instigated by a plot to mail bombs to prominent US financiers and government officials, set off the Palmer_Raids, in which Attorney General Mitchell Palmer arrested thousands of dissidents and eventually deported 556. Founding of the Communist Party USA .
In States, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Espionage Act, 10 March 1919.
Red_Summer: Beginning in Texas, predominantly white race riots broke out across the country with the most violent occurring in Chicago and Washington DC, but also in Charleston, SC, Knoxville, TN, Omaha, NE and other places. In general they were the result of competition between blacks and whites over labor.


Nineteenth Amendment ratifiied giving women the right to vote. Eugene Debs, while in prison for sedition, runs for President and gains 919,000 votes.


Alice_Paul drafts the Equal_Rights_Amendment, and the National Woman's Party turns its attention to advocating its passage.


Stock Market crash inaugurates Great_Depression. Communist_Party_USA under the influence of Stalinist policies, withdraws its support from other American socialist organizations.


Nation_of_Islam founded by wikipedia:Wallace_Fard_Muhammad].


Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt elected President.


A series of dust storms that characterized the high plains of the US as the Dust_Bowl removed millions of tons of plowed top soil from the recently settled Great Plains, intensifying the effects of the Great_Depression.


Elijah_Muhammad advanced to leadership of Nation_of_Islam.

WWII to Vietnam


Smith_Act signed into law.


Dec. 8, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan. Pearl Harbor Address.


American Communists pursued common anti-Nazi interests with US and made wartime accommodations to capitalism. During this period their membership climbed to an all-time high of 60,000-80,000. However, as much as 30% turnover meant that at any one time there were many more former Communists than active Communists in the US.


Congress_of_Racial_Equality (C.O.R.E.) was organized as a Fellowship_of_Reconciliation task force.


U.S. Supreme Court in Morgan_v._Virginia rules that segregation of white and colored passengers is invalid for out of state passengers.

Piedmont Leaf Tobacco Workers strike at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Winston-Salem, NC.


Members of CORE traveled through the Mid South in a "Journey of Reconciliation", the first of many campaigns to end segregation of interstate bus travel.

1949 -1958

Eleven leaders of the Communist_Party_USA were convicted of violating the Smith_Act, which outlawed groups teaching and advocating the violent overthrow of the government.


Brown_v._Board_of_Education rendered school segregation unconstitutional. Army-McCarthy Hearings end McCarthy's red bashing career.


  • 28 August

Emmett_Till, aged 14, was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white girl in a grocery store in Money, MS. A photo of the open casket makes national and international news.

  • 1 December

Rosa_Parks' action in refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus provided a catalyst for the Montgomery_Bus_Boycott.


Little Rock Crisis: Nine students attempted to attend a Little Rock public high school in accordance with the recent Supreme Court decision Brown_v._Board_of_Education. Governor Orval_Faubus guarded the entrance against them using Arkansas National Guard. Responding to requests from Martin_Luther_King and the NAACP, President Eisenhower enforced the Supreme Court decision, deploying troops from the 101st Airborne and federalizing the Arkansas National Guard.

States ended the trials of Communist Party leaders under the Smith_Act; the majority decision held that advocating revolution as an abstract belief is protected speech under the First Amendment, provided it does not instigate specific action.


  • February 1

Greensboro_sitiins. Four students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University sat down at a Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter and refused to get up until they were served. The incident spread to repeated demonstrations by students and others across the south, leading to the formation of the Student_Non-Violent_Coordinating_Committee.

  • May 12

House_Un-American_Activities_Committee conducted hearings in San Francisco City Hall. Demonstrators many of them students, denied admittance to the hearings were dispersed by police using anti-riot tactics. Repercussions from this demonstration contributed to the Berkeley Free_Speech_Movement.

  • November

John Fitzgerald Kennedy elected President. Inaugural.


Council_of_Federated_Organizations formed to coordinate efforts in Mississippi among SNCC, CORE, SCLC, and NAACP and local organizations.

  • May

CORE and SNCC began organizing Freedom Rides from Washington DC into Southern States.

  • November

Albany_Movement. Demonstrations were organized in Albany, GA targeting a broad front of segregation and voting rights ordinances, assisted first by SNCC volunteers and then by King. This time the opposition was also organized. The mixed results led to more precise target selection in civil rights initiatives.


  • June 12 — A group convenes in Port Huron,MI, to draft the Port_Huron_Statement, a document that became the manifesto of the

Democratic_Society (SDS). Authors included Robert_Alan_Haber, Tom_Hayden, Michael_Harrington, and Sharon Jeffries.


Birmingham_Campaign results in violence but eventually an end to segregation in Birmingham.

Vietnam to Present


Freedom_Summer for the Mississippi Voter Registration Project.
Mississippi_Freedom_Democratic_Party created after Mississippi Voter Registration Project was suppressed.

  • March

Malcolm_X left the Nation_of_Islam to form his Organization_for_Afro-American_Unity. Traveled to Mecca.



Summer_of_Love in San Francisco. CORE becomes separatist organization. Shulamith_Firestone and Chude_Pam_Allen founded New_York_Radical_Women. Ti-Grace_Atkinson elected president of NOW-New York.


  • March 3 — Lyndon Johnson announces he will not seek re-election.
  • April 4 — Martin Luther King assassinated.
  • June 5 — Robert Kennedy assassinated.
  • August 26-29 — Protests disrupt 1968_Democratic_National_Convention.



1st issue of [Ms.] (July). Congress passes the ERA. Congress passes Title IX banning sex discrimination in federally assisted educational programs.


Members of Jane_Collective arrested. Roe_v._Wade and Doe_v._Bolton result in making abortion constitutional. First publication of [Our Bodies, Our Selves]. Mary_Daly publishes Beyond God the Father.


First conference on "Women and the Environment." Passage of Equal_Credit_Opportunity_Act.


Kathie_Sarachild and Carol_Hanisch published Feminist Revolution, attacking liberal feminism. End of early radical feminism. [National Womens Health Network] founded. Members of Rothman's Feminist Womens Health Center arrested for practicing medicine without a license.


Greensboro_Massacre: members of the [Communist Workers Party] supporting union organizing among black textile workers organized an anti-Ku_Klux_Klan rally advocating "Death to the Klan." Klan members opened fire on the demonstrators; four demonstrators and one bystander were killed.


Wisconsin becomes the first state to make sexual orientation-based discrimination illegal.


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is instituted for the United States military. This allows for homosexual people to serve but bans homosexual activity.


On Dec. 18, the United States Senate votes 65 to 31 in favor of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." President Barack_Obama officially repealed the policy that same day.

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