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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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President Roosevelt Defines Freedom at Home and Abroad

In his 1941 State of the Union address to Congress, excerpted below, President Franklin Roosevelt outlines his plan for how the United States will combat worldwide threats to democracy. Known as the "Four Freedoms" speech, this strong plea for [...]

A Delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention Fears for the Little People

The ratification of the United States Constitution was the subject of intense discussion, debate, and dissent during the period 1787-1789. Though ultimately ratified by all thirteen states, the decision was by no means unanimous, and ratification [...]

A Virginia Patriot Speaks Out Against Ratification of the Constitution

Patrick Henry was a Virginia patriot best known for his "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech on the eve of the Revolutionary War. He was also known as one of the most radical advocates of republican government. In this speech before the [...]

A Virginian Argues for a Bill of Rights at the Ratification Convention

Patrick Henry, the Virginia patriot best known for his "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech, was also one of the leading Anti-Federalists. In this excerpt from a speech before the Virginia Ratification Convention, he makes the case for an [...]

President Lincoln Seeks to Reassure the South After His Election

Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President during a time of national crisis. His election had prompted the secession of South Carolina and six other states, and Federal troops were surrounded at Fort Sumter. In his inaugural address, Lincoln sought [...]

The Gettysburg Address

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 [...]

A Massachusetts Farmer Favors the New Constitution

The ratification of the United States Constitution was the subject of intense discussion, debate, and dissent between 1787 and 1789. Though ultimately ratified by all thirteen states, the decision was contentious and ratification faced considerable [...]

Timeline of Selected Federal Immigration Laws in the U.S., 1790-1986

This timeline traces federal immigration laws from the first Naturalization Act in 1790 through the 1986 law that addressed undocumented workers.

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 [...]

President Hoover Encourages Private Charity

President Herbert Hoover wrote the following letter to 10-year-old Barbara McIntyre of Columbus, Ohio after she wrote to him 1931 to report that she and her friends planned to collect old blankets, clothing, shoes, and food to send to him in [...]