Popular President

Ulysses S. Grant enjoyed the voting support of most Union army veterans. Despite several financial scandals within his administration, Grant was always popular with the public. His vision of America's future was farsighted. While touring the South in the 1870s, he spoke to black church members in Memphis, Tennessee. He thanked them for their support and talked of their place in politics. No other president would make similar gestures for many more years.

For more than ten years after the Civil War, the South was occupied by federal troops. This period in U.S. history is known as Reconstruction. Former Confederate government officials were prohibited from holding public offices. Confederate veterans were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States in order to enjoy some of the benefits of citizenship. Some ex-Confederates never regained the right to vote. Meanwhile, newly freed slaves were encouraged to vote in local elections. Several African Americans were appointed to positions in federal and local government, and some became members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ambitious Carpetbaggers moved into towns throughout the South. They started or bought out businesses and took over local government positions. Southerners who cooperated with the Carpetbaggers were called Scalawags. Angry Southerners formed secret terrorist groups that rode out at night and murdered, whipped, or intimidated Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and newly freed blacks. Federal troops provided what little law and order there was in those communities. Elsewhere, though, the future looked bright. Elected president in 1868, Ulysses S. Grant served two terms and presided over the industrial expansion of the rest of the nation and the settlement of the Western frontier. And in 1876, the United States celebrated its centennial. Many of the festivities were held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the nation's birthplace. At an industrial exhibition that was staged there, some of the public displays featured technological wonders. Others praised the nation's people for reuniting and again living in peace.

John C. Breckinridge


No story explained the healing between North and South better than the tale of General John Bell Hood's children. Hood went off to war a handsome young bachelor. By the time it ended, he was a general in a defeated army. He was also crippled. He had lost a leg and the use of one arm from wounds suffered in two separate battles. Despite his disabilities, Hood married and fathered many children, most of them twins. He also pursued a business career in New Orleans, where he was admired for his ambitious postwar outlook. In the 1870s, he, his wife, and their oldest child died in a yellow fever epidemic. Confederate veterans looked to his surviving children's care and circulated this photograph of them, searching for adoptive parents. All of the Hood orphans were eventually adopted, by families from the North as well as the South.

John C. Breckinridge

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