Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)
(142 total)

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In this 1863 editorial, Frederick Douglass calls all able-bodied African Americans to take up arms in defense of the Union. He encourages them to travel to Boston in order to join one of the first regiments of black soldiers forming there.

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1863

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

Newly enfranchised African Americans in South Carolina, who heavily outnumbered whites, were able to elect a black majority to the state house of representatives for every session but one during the Reconstruction era. Although whites who opposed Reconstruction policies often pointed to South Carolina as an example of corruption, the new state…

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Item Type: Photograph
Date: Circa 1876

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

The optimism and hope of "The Age of Progress" is expressed in these song lyrics published in 1860 by H. De Marsan. In typically grandiloquent Victorian style, the author extols recent technological advancements, including the Pacific Railroad and the Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, under construction at the time of the song's composition and…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: 1860

In this cartoon from the weekly satirical magazine Vanity Fair, an Irish longshoreman tells a black worker seeking employment on New York's waterfront: "Well, ye may be and man and a brother, sure enough; but it's little hospitality ye'll get out of yer relations on this dock, me ould buck!" The sharp competition for unskilled jobs between Irish…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1862

An 1869 poster announces the grand opening of the first Transcontinental Railroad. In an elaborate ceremony in Promontory Summit, Utah, the Union Pacific met with the Southern Pacific, linking the eastern United States with California for the first time. While the poster emphasizes the line's luxurious accommodations, the Transcontinental Railroad…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: Circa 1869

This Civil War-era song sheet refers to a provision in the draft laws passed by Congress in March of 1863 which allowed men to either pay $300 or provide a substitute to avoid serving in the Union Army. The provision was a source of resentment for many poor and working-class northerners, some of whom felt the war had become "the rich man's war and…

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Item Type: Music/Song
Date: 1863

Historian Greg Downs describes the motivations that drove non-slaveholding white Southerners to fight for the Confederacy and to protect slavery.

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Item Type: Podcast
Date: 2010

During the nineteenth century, the U.S. greatly expanded its territory by purchasing land from other countries, taking land from countries it defeated in war, and adding independent territories that wanted to become part of the United States. This illustration celebrated that territorial growth by using many popular symbols of American progress and…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1873