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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877) (x)

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A Slave Song Asserts "We'll Soon Be Free"

Within the strict and often violent boundaries of enslavement, African Americans drew strength and identity from spiritual beliefs and practices, which included singing the songs that became known as "spirituals." This spiritual was published [...]

"Deep River"

Both the author and original date of "Deep River" are unknown, as is usually the case with slave songs. It was first published in a collection entitled Slave Songs of the United States (New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867). The compilers of this [...]

"Go Down, Moses"

This song was originally published as "O! Let My People Go: The Song of the Contrabands." Though it is generally thought of as a spiritual, it was first recorded as sheet music after having been heard as a rallying cry for the ex-slaves at Fort [...]

Congress Issues the Conscription Act

Between July 13 and 16, 1863, the largest riots the United States had yet seen shook New York City. In the so-called Civil War draft riots, the city's poor white working people, many of them Irish immigrants, bloodily protested the federally-imposed [...]

President McKinley Puts the Philippines on the U.S. Map

In this account of an 1899 meeting with a delegation of Methodist church leaders, President William McKinley defends his decision to support the annexation of the Philippines in the wake of the U.S. war in that country.

Southern Newspapers Debate Secession

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 [...]

A "Southern Gentleman" Describes Problems in the Confederacy

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 [...]

A Virginia Newspaper Rallies to the Secessionist Cause

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 [...]

Black Religious Leaders Who Participated in Meeting with Union Officers

On January 12, 1865, twenty African-American religious leaders met with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Union Major-General William T. Sherman, who was then in the midst of conquering the southeastern portion of the Confederacy. Union officers [...]

Black Religious Leaders Meet with Union Officers during Sherman's March

At eight o'clock on the evening of January 12, 1865, a group of twenty African-American religious leaders gathered in Savannah, Georgia, to meet with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Union Major-General William T. Sherman, who was then in the [...]

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