Abraham Lincoln photo

Abraham Lincoln Event Timeline

Abraham Lincoln (16) Event Timeline

03/04/1861-04/14/1865

11/06/1860

Election Day.

12/05/1860

Electoral College votes cast.

12/17/1860

Secession Convention meets in Columbia, South Carolina.

12/20/1860

South Carolina secedes from the Union.

1861

 

01/09/1861

Mississippi secedes followed by Alabama (1/11), Georgia (1/19), Louisiana (1/26), Texas 2/1).

02/04/1861 – 03/16/1861

First session of Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America at Montgomery, Alabama.  Adopts constitution on 02/09/1861.

02/09/1861

Jefferson Davis is selected President of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States.

02/13/1861

Electoral Votes tabulated by Congress.

03/04/1861

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address.

03/16/1861

Message to the Senate on Royal Arbitration of American Boundary Lines.

04/01/1861

Protective tariff system defined by Morrill Tariff (passed on 03/02/1861; 12 Stat 178) takes effect.

04/12/1861

Ft. Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, is shelled and surrenders the next day.

04/15/1861

Proclamation 80 Calling Forth the Militia and Convening an Extra Session of Congress,  Session to begin July 4, 1861.

04/17/1861

Virginia secedes.

04/19/1861

Proclamation 81- Declaring a Blockade of Ports in Rebellious States.

04/20/1861

Robert E. Lee resigns his commission with the U.S. Army in order to “defend his native state” of Virginia.

04/27/1861

Proclamation 82—Extension of Blockade to Ports of Additional States.

05/03/1861

Proclamation 83- Increasing the Size of the Army and Navy.

05/06/1861

Arkansas secedes.

05/20/1861

North Carolina secedes.

05/20/1861

Confederate capital relocated to Richmond, VA.

05/24/1861

Union forces seize Arlington House, the residence of Robert E. Lee.

06/08/1861

Tennessee secedes.

06/20/1861

Western counties of Virginia break away from the state to form West Virginia and be recognized as a state in 1863.

07/04/1861

In a Special Session Message, Lincoln reviews the events since his Inauguration and his decision to “call out the war power of the Government.”  He calls for raising an army of at least 400,000.  Argues forcefully against the idea that States have a right to withdraw from the Union.

07/17/1861

Signs Appropriations for the Army for Fiscal Year 1862 (12 Stat 261).  This act supplemented funding for and expanded the Navy and Army.

07/21/1861

First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas Junction, Virginia (Confederate victory).

07/29/1861

Signs An Act for the Suppression of Rebellion (12 Stat 281) authorizing the President to employ any military forces necessary “to enforce the faithful execution of the laws of the United States” against rebellions.

08/05/1861

Signs a complex Revenue Act (12 Stat 292) that includes among its provisions a three-percent tax on annual income above $800.

08/06/1861

Signs an act (12 Stat 326) that approves Lincoln’s emergency use of army and navy and militia.  These orders are “in all respects legalized and made valid. . . as if they had been issued and done under the previous express authority and direction of the Congress of the United States.” [Link to image of Act.]

08/06/1861

Signs Compensation Act (12 Stat 319) authorizing the seizing of any property used to support the insurrection, including slaves, providing a basis for freeing any escaped slaves. [Link to image of text of Act.]

08/16/1861

Proclamation 86- Prohibiting Commercial Trade with States in Rebellion .

10/24/1861

First transcontinental telegram sent from Sacramento, CA to Lincoln by the president of the Overland Telegraph Co.

11/01/1861

McClellan named commanding General succeeding Winfield Scott.

12/03/1861

First Annual State of the Union Message.  Lincoln discusses ways to encourage freeing of slaves and calls for a plan for colonization of the freed slaves.

1862

 

01/27/1862

War Order #1 Directs that February 22 be a day for “general movement” of forces against the insurgents.

02/14/1862

Executive Order relating to Political Prisoners directs release of prisoners suspected or accused of treason provided they agree to provide no aid or comfort to the enemies.

02/20/1862

Lincoln’s son Willie dies at the White House at the age of 11.

03/06/1862

Recommends to Congress a program of compensated emancipation of slaves.

03/08/0862 – 03/09/1862

First battle of ironclad warships; demonstrated the importance of ironclads, and eventually kept the Confederate ship confined in a body of water known as Hampton Roads.

03/13/1862

Signs "Additional Article of War" (12 Stat 354) prohibiting the return by military forces of escaped slaves.

04/06/1862 – 04/07/1862

Ulysses S. Grant wins major Union victory at Battle of Shiloh in western Tennessee.

04/16/1862

Signs “Act for the Release of certain Persons held to Service of Labor in the District of Columbia,” (12 Stat 376) freeing slaves in the District and compensating their owners up to $300 provided the owner swears an oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States.  Appropriates $1 Million for the program and $100,000 to “aid in the colonization and settlement of such free persons of African descent now residing in said District.”

05/12/1862

Proclamation 89—Termination of Blockade of Beaufort, North Carolina, Port Royal, South Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

05/20/1862

Signs Homestead Act (12 Stat 392) allowing settlers to acquire up to 160 acres of public land.

05/25/1862

Executive Order- Taking Military Possession of Railroads.

06/01/1862

General Robert E. Lee becomes commander of Army of Northern Virginia replacing General Joseph Johnson who had been wounded in battle.

06/19/1862

Signs Act eliminating slavery in any Territories of the United States.

06/26/1862

Order Constituting the [Union] Army of Virginia.

07/02/1862

Signs Act prescribing an Oath of Office for all federal government office-holders (12 Stat 502) including that “I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States. . . given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto. . . “

07/02/1862

Signs Morrill Act (12 Stat 503) donating public land to be used to support colleges “for agriculture and the mechanic arts.”

07/04/1862

Message to Congress Proposing an Act of Compensated Emancipation.

07/17/1862

Signs Second Confiscation Act (12 Stat 589) declaring that slaves owned by anyone participating in rebellion will be made free; seeks to seize property of Confederate leaders; specifies that escaped slaves are to be set free; allows the President to “employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of this rebellion.”

07/17/1862

Signs Act amending the Act calling forth the Militia (12 Stat 597).  Includes provision freeing any slave serving in the Militia together with his mother, his wife and his children.

08/17/1862

Beginning of “Dakota War” in the State of Minnesota.  Dakota warriors angry about their conditions attacked white settlers.  Eventually over 600 settlers and soldier died as well as 75-100 Dakota.

08/22/1862

Letter to Horace Greeley published in New York Times, August 24;  “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”

08/30/1862 – 08/31/1862

Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas, VA) and a second Confederate victory.

09/17/1862

Battle of Antietam (Maryland);  bloody battle ends Lee’s invasion of the North.

09/22/1862

Proclamation 93—Declaring the Objectives of the War Including Emancipation of Slaves in Rebellious States on January 1, 1863 (Emancipation Proclamation).

12/01/1862

State of the Union Message. Discusses prospects for colonization of “free Americans of African descent.”  Observes that “Indian tribes upon our frontiers have during the past year manifested a spirit of insubordination. . . “ The Sioux Indians attacked settlements “with extreme ferocity.”  Proposes a constitutional amendment for compensated abolition of slavery.

12/11/1862

Message to the Senate Responding to the Resolution Regarding Indian Barbarities in the State of Minnesota.  Reports that he commuted the death sentences of all convicted in the “Dakota Wars” except for those proven to have participated in massacres as opposed to battles.  [Link to Senate Document with attachments.]

12/13/1862

Battle of Fredericksburg (VA), is a grave defeat for the Union Army.

12/31/1862

Signs Act admitting West Virginia to the Union (12 Stat 633) once a vote of the people certifies the choice and the President issues a proclamation.

1863

 

01/01/1863

Proclamation 95—Regarding the Status of Slaves in States Engaged in Rebellion Against the United States [Emancipation Proclamation].

02/24/1863

Signs Act establishing the Territory of Arizona (12 Stat 664).

02/25/1863

Signs the National Banking Act, (12 Stat 665) creates a system for national banking; system of national currency; creates the office of Comptroller of the Currency.

03/03/1863

Signs act establishing the Territory of Idaho (12 Stat 808).

03/03/1863

Signs Act to Incorporate the National Academy of Sciences (12 Stat 806).

03/03/1863

Signs Habeas Corpus Act (12 Stat 755) authorizing the President, during the present rebellion to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus “whenever, in his judgment the public safety may require it.”

04/20/1863

Proclamation 100, Admitting West Virginia to the Union. (Admission takes effect 60 days later.)

05/19/1863

General Grant opens his assault on Vicksburg (MS) in an effort to wrest control of the Mississippi River from the Confederates.

05/23/1863

The War Department issues General Order 143, creating a Bureau devoted to the organizing of Colored Troops.

06/20/1863

West Virginia admitted as a state pursuant to Proclamation 100 of 04/20/1863.

07/01/1863 – 07/03/1863

Battle of Gettysburg.  Confederate invasion of the North fails after a fierce battle with over 7,000 dead and 27,000 wounded.

07/04/1863

Confederate troops surrender at Vicksburg (MS) after a 47 day siege.

07/13/1863 – 07/16/1863

New York City draft riots.  Protests against the draft degenerated into a anti-Black race riot leaving around 120 dead.

07/30/1863

Executive Order directs equal retaliation against Southern prisoners for instances of execution or enslavement of Northern prisoners by the South.

08/26/1863

Lincoln letter to James C. Conkling defending his policies on emancipation against criticism from Union supporters.

09/15/1863

Proclamation 104- Suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus Throughout the United States.

10/17/1863

Proclamation 107—Call for 300,000 Volunteers.

11/19/1863

Gettysburg Address.  At the dedication of a cemetery for the battle dead.

12/08/1863

Third Annual State of the Union Message.

12/08/1863

Proclamation 108—Amnesty and Reconstruction.   Proposes lenient terms for former Confederates who accept prior Proclamations regarding slavery.

1864

 

02/24/1864

Signs "Act Amending the Act for enrolling and calling out the National Forces" (13 Stat 6) that authorizes the President to establish quotas for volunteers as needed, and if insufficient volunteers, draft authorized.

03/10/1864

By Executive Order designates Ulysses Grant as commander of the armies of the United States.

03/26/1864

Proclamation 111 limits amnesty to individuals not already in custody (prisoners) or under bonds or on patrol.

04/04/1864

Letter to Albert G. Hodges.  Lincoln explains and defends the evolution of his thinking about emancipation.  “I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation.”

04/08/1864

The Senate passes Joint Resolution to adopt the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would end slavery.

04/18/1864

Address at Sanitary Fair in Baltimore:  A Lecture on Liberty.  Addresses reports of massacre of Union troops imprisoned at Fort Pillow, Tennessee (see proclamation of 07/30/1863)

05/18/1864

Executive order for Arrest and Imprisonment of Irresponsible Newspaper Reporters and Editors.

05/26/1864

Signs Act establishing Territory of Montana.

06/07/1864

Lincoln nominated for President at Union National Convention.

06/16/1864

Address at a Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia.

06/27/1864

Lincoln Letter Accepting the Presidential Nomination.

06/28/1864

Signs Act  Repealing the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (13 Stat 200).

07/04/1864

Pocket Veto of Wade-Davis Reconstruction bill (see 07/08/1864).

07/05/1864

Proclamation 113 Declares Martial Law and suspends Habeas Corpus in Kentucky. Acts pursuant to Act of 03/03/1863 (above).

07/08/1864

Proclamation 115 explains the pocket veto of the Wade Davis Reconstruction bill.  

07/09/1864 – 07/22/1864

Exchange of letters with Horace Greeley about possibility of peace negotiations in Niagara Falls.

07/18/1864

In Proclamation 116, calls for 500,000 volunteers pursuant to a law that authorizes him to institute a draft in areas where quotas are not met.

08/15/1864

Interview with John T. Mills.  “Abandon all the posts now garrisoned by black men, take one hundred and fifty thousand men from our side and put them in the battle-field or corn-field against us, and we would be compelled to abandon the war in three weeks.”

09/03/1864

Executive Order Tendering Thanks to Major-General William T. Sherman [upon capture of Atlanta, Georgia on September 2].  Also directs a celebration of Sherman’s successes at military posts around the country by Executive Order.

10/31/1864

Proclamation 119—Admitting State of Nevada Into the Union.

11/08/1864

Election Day. Lincoln handily defeats George McClellan.

12/06/1864

Fourth Annual State of the Union Message.

12/19/1864

Proclamation 121—Calling for 300,000 Volunteers.

1865

 

01/31/1865

House of Representatives passes resolution proposing the 13th Amendment.

02/01/1865

Signs resolution submitting to the states the 13th Amendment to the Constitution; for ratification (13 Stat 567).

02/03/1865

Hampton Roads Peace Conference between Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward and two members of the Confederate Cabinet.

02/09/1865

Message of Reply to a Committee of Congress Reporting the Result of the Electoral Vote Count

02/10/1865

Message to the House of Representatives Containing a Chronologic Review of Peace Proposals [to end the Civil War].

03/03/1865

Signs Act to establish a Bureau for the Relief of Freedmen and Refugees (13 Stat 507)

03/04/1865

Second Inaugural Address. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

03/11/1865

Proclamation 124—Offering Pardon to Deserters.

03/14/1865

Executive Order—Ordering the Arrest and Designation as Prisoners of War all Persons engaged in intercourse or trade with the Insurgents by sea.

03/17/1865

Proclamation 125—Ordering the Arrest and Prosecution of those Furnishing arms to Hostile Indians.

03/17/1865

Address to an Indiana Regiment.  “While I have often said that all men ought to be free, yet would I allow those colored persons to be slaves who want to be, and next to them those white people who argue in favor of making other people slaves.”

03/27/1865

Executive Order—Ordering the Raising of the Flag and other Commemorations at Fort Sumter.

04/03/1865

Union troops occupy Petersburg and Richmond.

04/04/1865

Lincoln visits Richmond.

04/09/1865

Lee surrenders Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House but other Confederate Generals continue to fight.

04/11/1865

Final public Address to a crowd on the White House lawn.

04/15/1865

Lincoln dies following his shooting by John Wilkes Booth on the night of 04/14/1865.

 

Last edited 04/19/2022.

Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/346012

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