Brooklyn in the Civil War
Soldiers Women Slavery Daily Life
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To abolish; to put out of existence. The Emancipation Proclamation led to the abolition of slavery.

A person who believes in ending slavery. Those people active in the Anti-Slavery Movement were known as abolitionists.

People who live in the United States who can trace their ancestry back to Africa.

To change for the better.

Any object fired or launched from a gun or some other weapon; these include cartridges, shells, and rockets.

Weapons such as guns and rockets.

The murder of a famous person or public official. President Lincoln was assassinated while attending a performance at Ford's Theatre.

A military attack on enemy strongholds.

A sale of property to the highest bidder. Slaves were sold at auction to plantation owners.

A large formal gathering for social dancing. Everyone had a wonderful time at the ball held at the Academy of Music.

A person belonging to a dark-skinned race; African-Americans. African-Americans can trace their ancestry back to Africa. See also the definitions for African-American, Colored, and Negro.

To isolate enemy forces, to prevent persons, goods, etc. from getting in or out of an enemy region. In the Civil War, the North blockaded Southern ports.

A costume for women consisting of a short skirt and long loose trousers gathered closely about the ankle. Amelia Bloomer invented the bloomer costume and was widely criticized for insulting womanhood, because pants were considered men's clothing only.

Border States
A name applied to slave states that remained in the Union or those that were neutral and bordered the Northern states. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were considered border states.

A reward or payment offered by the government. In the Civil War an extra payment was made to encourage men to volunteer for the Army.

A person of a race other than white. African-Americans were called colored people (or Negroes) in the 19th century. This term is rarely used now, and is usually considered offensive.

enforced, mandatory.

An alliance between two or more people, states, or countries with a common belief or goal.

A member of a confederacy. In the Civil War, those citizens of the Confederate States of America. The Confederate States of America included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The part of the United States government that is responsible for making laws. It is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Compulsory enrollment of a person, especially for military service.

To join together into one whole. In 1898, the two cities of Brooklyn and New York were consolidated into one city (called New York City).

Democratic Party
A major political group in the United States. In the Civil War era, members of the Democratic Party believed that states should control their own affairs, and individuals should control their own lives without interference of state or federal government.

The nickname for the Southern states (the Confederacy).

To select a person for some purpose, usually for military service, usually without the person giving consent. When President Lincoln saw that many more soldiers were needed to fight the Confederacy than were volunteering, he issued the draft.

A contest left undecided or deadlocked. Another word is tie. The ironclad ships the Monitor and the Merrimack fought to a draw.

Due Process (of law)
A basic principle of the American legal system which requires fairness in the government's dealings with persons. In the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, federal, state, and local governments are forbidden to deprive a person of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." African-Americans were often treated unfairly and denied the right to due process of law.

An infection of the intestines which causes diarrhea. Many Civil War soldiers suffered from dysentery because of dirty drinking water and spoiled food.

The selection by vote of an individual who wishes to serve in public office, such as the presidency or Congress.

To free a person or group from control or slavery.

Emancipation Proclamation
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate States that were rebelling against the Union.

Equal Protection (of the laws)
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution (1868) guarantees that no state government can deny a person within its boundaries the equal protection of the laws. The purpose was to ensure equal treatment of the emancipated (freed) slaves after the Civil War.

A government in which political power is divided between a central (national) government (in the United States, called the federal government) and small governmental units (in the United States called states).

A group, such as ships, planes, or trucks, under the command of a single officer.

A person who has been a slave and has been set free. After the end of the Civil War, slaves were freed and became known as freedmen.

A person who enjoys civil or political liberty; a person who is not a slave. Although most African-Americans in early Brooklyn were slaves, there were many freeman who owned businesses and property and served in the militia.

a runaway. The Fugitive Slave Law said that all runaway slaves must be returned to the state from which they fled or face large fines or imprisonment.

Fugitive Slave Law
In 1850 Congress ordered that all runaway slaves must be returned to the state from which they fled. Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave herself, assisted many fugitive slaves to freedom in the North and in Canada.

A bag, similar to a knapsack but worn over one shoulder. In the Civil War, soldiers carried their food and possessions in a haversack.

An official ceremony inducting an individual into office. President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1861.

Indentured servants
Persons in a contract that forces one person to work for another for a given period of time. In addition to slaves, the farmers of early Brooklyn used indentured servants to work their land.

To charge with a fault or offense; to charge with a crime by the finding or presentment of a jury (as a grand jury) in due form of law.

Soldiers who were trained to fight on foot.

A warship that is covered completely in iron. In the Civil War, the Monitor and the Merrimack were called ironclads.

Ku Klux Klan
A secret society, organized after the Civil War, whose belief was in white supremacy.

Poor food or the lack of food that causes weakness in the body.

To release from slavery; manumission is the state of being released from slavery. Early New York State law allowed for the manumission of slaves by 1827.

A part of an organized army that is usually called for service only in an emergency.

An ironclad warship, built in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with a low flat deck and one or more turrets (towers) - affectionately known as "a cheesebox on a raft."

Another word for ammunition. See Ammunition.

An act of assembling, specifically: formal military inspection; muster out - to discharge from service; muster roll - a register of the officers and men in a military unit or ship's company.

A person belonging to a dark-skinned race; another name for African-Americans, used in the 19th century and early 20th century. Since the 1960s, the terms Black and African-American have replaced the word Negro.

The act or process of pacifying (making peace).

Love for one's country.

A very large farm where crops such as cotton or tobacco are grown and harvested by the inhabitants. In the southern states of America before the Civil War, those inhabitants were generally slaves.

The total number of people living in a particular area.

An official, formal public announcement. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the southern states.

Opposing or taking arms against a government or ruler. In the Civil War those persons who lived in the Confederate States or served in the Confederate Army were called rebels because they opposed the United States government.

With the end of the Civil War, it was the process by which the seceded states (Confederacy) were returned to the Union.

A military unit consisting of a great number of battalions (troops trained to act together on the battlefield).

Republican Party
A major political party organized in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party.

A disease caused by a lack of ascorbic acid in the diet. Civil War soldiers suffered from this disease, which caused bleeding gums and the loosening and loss of teeth.

To leave an organization. In the Civil War those states that chose to withdraw from the United States to form the Confederate States of America "seceded" from the Union.

One who joins in a secession or maintains that secession is a right. After the southern states seceded, supporters were called secessionists.

The separation of a race or group from the rest of society.

A person who is the property of another person. Slaves worked for their owners without pay or the freedom to leave.

The state of one person being the property of another person. One of the arguments by the Confederacy for slavery was the importance of slaves to the Southern economy. Slavery was known as the "peculiar institution" of the South.

The right to vote (also called franchise). In the Civil War era, African-Americans and women did not have the right to vote. After the Civil War, Congress gave African-American men the right to vote with passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870. Women did not get the right to vote until 1920 with the passage of the 20th Amendment.

A woman who advocates the right to vote for women.

The state of being supreme (superior, the highest in rank, authority). Members of the Ku Klux Klan are white supremacists. They believe that the white race is better than all others, including the Negro race.

The state of moderation, especially moderation in or abstinence from the use of intoxicating drink. The Temperance Movement wanted to outlaw alcohol, and succeeded with the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919.

One who betrays another's trust. In the Civil War, both Confederate and Union spies who stole secrets from the other side were called traitors and brought to trial for their crimes.

Typhoid Fever
A highly infectious disease that is transmitted by food or water. Many soldiers in the Civil War died of this terrible disease.

Underground Railroad
A secret system set up by opponents of slavery to help runaway slaves from the south to escape to the free states in the north and Canada. After the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Harriet Tubman, a fugitive slave herself, led over 300 slaves to freedom.

Used during the Civil War, the Union was another name for the United States of America (also the Northern states).

The power of one branch of a government to forbid the carrying out of projects attempted by another department; for example, the power of a chief executive (in the United States, the president) to prevent permanently or temporarily the enactment of laws passed by a legislature (in the United States, the Congress). This power can be overrode by a vote of the majority of Congress.

The successful overcoming of an enemy, especially in a struggle of great difficulty. The Northern states defeated the Southern states in the long hard Civil War. This was a victory for the North.

One who offers him/herself for a service of his/her own free will; for example, one who enters into military service voluntarily. When President Lincoln called for volunteers for the militia, many young men of Brooklyn were eager to join.

A Union soldier in the Civil War or anyone who is from the North.


Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster Word Central

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1990.

The World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago: World Book, Inc., 2004.



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