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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Filipino Representative Appeals to the American People

Galicano Apacible, a Filipino nationalist, wrote the following letter opposing U.S. annexation of the Philippines.  Apacible represented the Filipino Central Committee, a revolutionary group that supported independence from Spanish colonial [...]

An Ex-Slave Petitions the Pennsylvania Legislature to Remain Free

Cato, a slave newly freed with his children, wrote this letter to Freeman's Journal, an African-American newspaper, when the Pennsylvania legislature was debating whether to repeal a recently passed law that gradually emancipated all slaves in the [...]

An African-American Soldier Fights "In Defense of My Race and Country"

This letter was written by an African-American soldier of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment in the midst of a heated battle to take the Confederate fortifications on Folly Island, South Carolina. It conveys the determination of black soldiers in the [...]

A Georgia Soldier Condemns the Exemption of Slaveholders

In this letter to the editor, a Georgia soldier condemns the so-called "Twenty Negro Law" exempting large slaveholders from service in the Confederate Army. The anonymous soldier articulates the feelings of many poor Southern whites, most of whom [...]

A New York Rioter Explains His Opposition to the Draft

In 1863, Congress issued a Conscription Act to draft more people into the army to fight the Civil War. The draft law also included a provision that allowed wealthy men to pay $300 to a substitute, thus avoiding military service. In response, in New [...]

A Chinese Immigrant Reacts to the Statue of Liberty

This letter, originally published in the New York Sun in 1885, was written by Saum Song Bo in response to a fund-raising campaign for the building of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Three years earlier, Congress had passed the Chinese [...]

A Soldier Reports on Filipino Perceptions of White and Black Americans

John W. Galloway, a member of the 24th Infantry stationed in the Philippines, reports his findings from discussions with Filipinos regarding the issue of race to an African-American newspaper at home. This letter highlights American concepts of [...]

A Soldier Reports on Filipino Grievances

This anonymous letter, to the Wisconsin Weekly Advocate by a black soldier, probably from the 24th or 25th infantry, denounces the behavior of Americans in the Philippines following its acquisition from the Spanish. He states that having seen the [...]

"Men of Color, To Arms!"

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.

A Progressive Organization Urges African-American Solidarity with the Shirtwaist Strikers

After a New York Age editorial was published, a crisis meeting was called by the Cosmopolitan Club. The Cosmopolitan Club was an organization of black and white progressives and radicals called together by Mary White Ovington, a founder of the [...]