Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)
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The Irish often faced discrimination when seeking jobs upon their arrival in the United States. Although historians have been hard-pressed to identify an actual sign bearing the notorious legend "No Irish Need Apply," contemporary newspaper advertisements and employment pages from the mid-nineteenth century expressed such sentiments. This 1862…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: 1862

This Civil War-era lithograph, circulated in the North, lampoons the idea that the Confederate Army was composed of southern "volunteers." A conscript is compelled by force to fight for "King Cotton," despite his protests that he is a "Union man." In reality, both the Union and Confederate Armies relied on conscription to fill their ranks, and in…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: Circa 1862

California passed two laws that established a system of Indian apprenticeship. The laws made it easy for any white person to claim young Indian laborers by taking a list of names to a judge and getting the judge’s signature. Sympathetic onlookers called apprenticeship “Indian slavery.” Historians estimate as many as 10,000 Native…

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Item Type: Quantitative Data
Date: 1861

Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President during a time of national crisis. His election had prompted the secession of South Carolina and six other states, and Federal troops were surrounded at Fort Sumter. In his inaugural address, Lincoln sought to assuage the fears of people in the southern states, declaring that he had no intention of…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1861

This stereograph (an early form of the 3-D image) showing three Union soldiers with "contraband" was produced and sold by the E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. company of New York sometime between 1861 and 1865. "Contraband" was the term used to describe escaped slaves who fled behind Union Army lines for safety. The three young African-American men…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: Circa 1861

The Republican Vindicator was (despite its name) a Democratic newspaper in Augusta County, Virginia that generally supported the cause of secession from the Union. In this editorial published on January 4, 1861, the paper's editors respond to the election of President Abraham Lincoln and vowed to resist northern tyranny at any cost.

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1861

The Staunton, Virginia Spectator was a Whig newspaper that opposed Virginia's secession from the Union. On March 19, 1861, the paper published the following anonymous letter that warned Virginians about the the rising prices, violence, and isolation that accompanied secession. Georgia, like the rest of the states of the Deep South, had seceded…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1861

The Staunton, Virginia Spectator was a Whig newspaper that opposed Virginia's secession from the Union. In an effort to bolster support for its views, it published an excerpt from the Milledgeville, Georgia Recorder, a newspaper published in a state that had already seceded from the Union. Both the Spectator and the Recorder allude to the divergent…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1861

The Staunton Spectator was a Whig newspaper that opposed Virginia's secession from the Union. Despite their state's subsequent status as the seat of the Confederacy, Virginians, like many residents of the Upper South, remained divided over the issue of secession in the months after South Carolina and the other states of the Deep South declared the…

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Item Type: Fiction/Poetry
Date: 1861

Although the attitudes of many white Union soldiers toward slavery and emancipation ranged from indifference to outright racial hostility, others viewed the issue as central to their participation in the war. The following quotations, taken from letters, diary entries, and contemporary newspaper interviews with white Union soldiers, reveal the…

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Item Type: Diary/Letter
Date: 1861