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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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

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Background Essay on Civil War "Contraband"

This essay describes how runaway slaves escaped to Union camps, and how the army formed "contraband camps" to house runaway slaves and their families. 

Background Essay on Eastman Johnson and A Ride for Liberty

This essay describes the circumsances surrounding one of Eastman Johnson's most famous paintings, A Ride for Liberty–The Fugitive Slaves.

Summary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Despite his personal opposition to slavery, when President Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861 he insisted that his constitutional duty was to keep the nation together, not to abolish slavery. He conducted the first year of the war with the goal of [...]

Night Patrols Check Slave Passes in Mississippi

This scene of white patrollers examining “Negro passes” in Mississippi illustrates the constraints placed on all African Americans in the slave South. This news illustration captured a scene during the Civil War, when slave owners in [...]

A Union Army General Describes the Impact of Contraband Slaves

In the testimony that follows, a general tells Congress how contraband slaves served his army and had a dramatic impact on the way Union soldiers thought about slavery and freedom.

Appomattox Marker

This monument outside Appomattox Court House in Appomattox County, Virginia marks the site of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. It was erected in 1929 by a memorial [...]

On to Liberty

Painter Theodor Kaufmann was a German immigrant and abolitionist who served in the Union army during the Civil War. Throughout the war, African-American men, women, and children escaped slavery by fleeing to Union encampments. Union commanders [...]

"Why Non-Slaveholders Fought for the Confederacy"

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

Another View of the "Statue of Emancipation"

Even as the dramatic events of the Civil War were unfolding, artists and sculptors struggled to depict emancipation. After the war, as local communities and the nation attempted to memorialize the conflict and the transformation of four million [...]

Harriet Tubman Warns "Kill the Snake Before It Kills You"

Harriet Tubman was among the best known conductors of the Underground Railroad, a network of enslaved people, free blacks, and white sympathizers that assisted thousands of runaway slaves escape north. During the Civil War, Tubman offered her [...]