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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Antebellum America (1816-1860) (x)

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A Southern Newspaper Reports on Northern Racism

The Staunton Spectator, a Virginia newspaper, reported on the "miserable" treatment faced by fugitive slaves who had been "abandoned" by abolitionist supporters in the U.S. North and Canada. Using quotes from northern papers, it described a fight a [...]

A Southern Newspaper Concludes "We are all therefore slaves"

The Staunton Spectator, a Virginia newspaper, frequently used material printed in northern newspapers in order to defend the southern institution of slavery. In this, and many similar articles, it detailed the unfortunate circumstances that [...]

A Know-Nothing Compares "Romanism" with "Republicanism"

In the mid-nineteenth century, the arrival of large numbers of Catholics from Ireland and Germany made the new immigrants' faith and its place in American society a hot-button issue. Such ideas found their expression in the anti-Catholic polemics of [...]

The People of Ireland Ask the Irish in America to Support Abolition

This call for unity was written in Ireland by Irish and American abolitionists in the summer of 1841. The petition was eventually signed by 60,000 Irish men and women. Catholic abolitionists in Ireland wanted their countrymen in America to draw [...]

A New York Democrat Champions Territorial Expansion

Mike Walsh was an Irish immigrant, former gang leader, and editor of the radical Democratic newspaper The Subterranean. An advocate of working-class causes, he was strongly anti-abolitionist and supported the annexation of Texas. He gave the [...]

Item Type: Speech
An Abolitionist Denounces War with Mexico

Theodore Parker, a well-known abolitionist and Congregationalist minister, delivered the following sermon to an antiwar group gathered in Boston in June 1846.

A Southern Senator Opposes the "All-Mexico" Plan

John C. Calhoun, Senator from South Carolina and future spokesman for southern secession, delivered the following speech to Congress on January 4, 1848.  At the time, U.S. and Mexican diplomats were in the midst of negotiating a peace treaty to [...]

An Abolitionist Speaks Forcefully for Women's Rights

Women and African Americans were demanding the rights of citizenship in the 1850s. At an 1851 women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio Sojourner Truth rose and asked the president, "May I say a few words?" She then conveyed to the audience a [...]

Item Type: Speech
Timeline of Compromises over Slavery

From the nation's very inception, the existence of slavery stood in glaring contrast to the ideals of liberty and justice expressed in the preamble to the Constitution. The Constitution itself protected the institution of slavery (while never [...]

Uncovering Five Points: Evidence from a NYC Immigrant Neighborhood

This database allows users to explore Five Points using data compiled from the 1855 New York State Census. Search census records from 1,333 individuals in the database to learn about the residents of New York City's legendary immigrant neighborhood.

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