Illinois After the War
The Civil War officially ended on April 9, 1865, with the
surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General
Ulysses S. Grant. Peace had come, but the country had been
weakened in many ways by the four-year war. Political, social,
and cultural issues still deeply divided the North and the South.
Many questions had to be answered about reuniting the country,
rebuilding damaged homes, businesses, and farms, and determining
the role of the freed slaves. Historians call the time following the
Civil War the Reconstruction Period (1865-1877).
The government of the re-United States of America had a
difficult task to mend the deep wounds to the country. It took many
years to do this, but it did not slow the growth of the country. After
the war, America once again focused on moving its boundaries
westward. This westward movement
made Illinois the departure point for
the thousands of settlers looking for
new homes. As the country grew,
Illinois became the center of the
nation rather than its western frontier.
The end of the Civil War did not
solve all of the problems of slavery.
What happened in Illinois is a good
example of what happened in other
places in the country. Even though
Illinois was the first state to ratify the
– to reconstruct
means to rebuild –
means a time of
Vol. 5 # 3 Education Services Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Illinois After the Civil War
and the Great Chicago Fire
General Lee surren-ders
to General Grant,
April 9, 1965. Courtesy
National Park Service.