Historical Periods in U.S. History

10 April 2007

I thought it would be good to talk about different time periods from the beginnings of America through about 1900. I do tend to use the term antebellum to mean all the years before the Civil War, but it is also a time period itself. If I say antebellum, I am referring to time in the US before the war, whereas if I say Antebellum, I am specifically referring to the time period. Sorry for the confusion.

U.S. Time Periods through 1900

  • Pre-Contact: This is the period before America was settled by Europeans. I see no reason why I would use this term in the blog, but wanted to add it. This has a lot to do with the "discovery" of America (both North and South) by European explorers.
  • Colonial: This period generally goes from 1607-1750. I will be using Colonial to discuss early free Blacks in the state.
  • Revolutionary: This period goes from 1750-1789, basically the time leading up to the Revolutionary War and the time after the War through the creation and implementation of the Constitution. This is also a term I will be using to talk about early free Blacks. The early free Black families generally span from the Colonial period and the Revolutionary period.
  • Confederation Era: This time period goes from about 1783 to the early 1800s. It is a time when the new country of the United State of America was creating policies and setting up its government. It's also called the Early Republic era or New Countruy era.
  • Westward Expansion: This was a time from 1812-1840s where Americans were moving out west. Territories and states were being developed further west than before, not only areas like California, Oklahoma, and the likes, buit also states in the North began to be developed further west like Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
  • Antebellum: There is some disagreement when the antebellum period begins. I personally view the antebellum period beginning when Gabriel's Rebellion began in 1800 and my next couple posts about the laws in NC regarding free Blacks will show you why. However, some say it did not begin until 1835. Generally I use antebellum to refer to the whole period of US history before the Civil War, During this time period, the issue of slavery really became an issue.
  • Civil War: This is pretty straight forward, but the Civil War period is from 1860, when the first states began to withdraw from the Union, until December 1865, when the 13th amendment to the Constitution was ratified.
  • Reconstruction: The Reconstruction era lasted about 10 years, from 1866-1877. This is the period when slaves were freed and free Blacks during the antebellum period fell under the same laws as the former slaves. In addition, this is the period when the Freedman's Savings and Trust Bank and also the Freedmen's Bureau were in operation. This is an important time because this is when the Black Codes and Jim Crow began. This is also a time period in North Carolina when African Americans started taking seats in the state's General Assembly.
  • Industrial age: This period existed from 1877-1900. I don't imagine I will talk about this time period, but some of my research has extended through 1900.

My terminology

I want to add a note about terminology I use in my blog regarding two things:

Black vs. Free Person of Color vs. African American
There are different terms I may use, and I did touch on this a bit in the quiz. I often use the term Black, but this offends some and they'd rather I use African American. I've used African American before, and that offended others. I apologize right now if that offends you, it's not my intention, but I can't please everyone. From time to time, I may revert back and use the term free people of color or FPOC for short. I have seen quite a few people offended by this term as well. Why do we use this term? For the simple reason that not all free persons of color Black, but they are often a mixture of races, such as Native American, Black, and white. Some documents from the time refer to "Free Coloreds," which refer not only to those of African descent, but to tax paying Native Americans as well.

Manumission vs. Emancipation
So, what is manumission? This is something I'll talk a lot about. A lot of people have never heard the term before. Manumission and emancipation are pretty much the same thing. There is a slight difference though to me. To me, emancipation refers to the when the slavehold is forced to free their enslaved people. On the other hand, I see the term manumission as more voluntarily freeing one's slaves. Usually the slavehold is setting his own slave free, or perhaps he purchased a slave for the purpose of manumitting that slave. I will almost always use the term manumission.


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