Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)
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This cartoon by Thomas Nast depicts a riot that took place on March 17, 1867 in New York City between Irish immigrants and the Metropoliton Police. Just two years after the New York City draft riots, violence related to politics remained a feature of city life and often broke out on election day as well. Irish immigrants overwhelmingly supported…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1867

In addition to abolishing slavery in the rebellious Confederate states on January 1, 1863, Lincoln's Proclamation announced that the Union Army and Navy would accept black men in their ranks. Nearly 200,000 African Americans joined Union forces by the end of the Civil War.

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: 1863

This illustration from Harper's Weekly features three figures symbolizing black political leadership: a skilled craftsman, a sophisticated city dweller, and a Union Army veteran.

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1867

The battle of Gettysburg, which took place in July, 1863, was the deadliest in the Civil War. After three sweltering days, Union forces were victorious but 51,000 soldiers were dead, wounded, or missing; 28,000 of them were Confederates. In November, a portion of the battlefield was memorialized as a military cemetery, where President Abraham…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1863

In 1876. the United States marked its centennial (or one hundredth birthday) with a World's Fair held in Philadelpha. The fair celebrated American technological progress and expansion. In this print, created by Currier & Ives, "Brother Jonathan" (a symbol of the nation who came before Uncle Sam) straddles the towers of the main building at the…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1876

During slavery, planters had tried to keep African Americans from learning to read and write, sometimes even passing laws against educating slaves. After Emancipation, freedpeople displayed a tremendous desire to learn. Some wanted to read the Bible; others wanted the skills to read land titles, figure out wages, and advance themselves in the new…

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Item Type: Poster/Print
Date: 1866

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

A bestial Irishman, his anger inflamed by pro-Irish political broadsides and "demon rum," represents a veritable powder keg of potential violence in this 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon. The ape-like features are typical of the depictions of the Irish used by Nast and other Anglo-American cartoonists, newspaper editors, writers, and opinion-makers, who…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1871

As Roman Catholic communities grew larger, more established, and more confident toward the end of the nineteenth century, clergymen such as Rev. Stephen Byrne began to mount a defense of the Church's role in America in response to the activities of the Know-Nothings and other anti-Catholic groups. In this 1873 essay "On the Church and Duties of…

Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1873

In this political cartoon from Harper's Weekly magazine, illustrator Thomas Nast portrays the figure of Columbia, a symbol of American democracy, comforting and protecting a Chinese man from a working-class immigrant mob. Nast likely created the text pasted on the wall behind them by combining actual and invented debate from the time. The caption…

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Item Type: Cartoon
Date: 1871