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Antietam, Maryland. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Major General John A. McClernand: Another View
At the outset of the U.S. Civil War, Mathew Brady dispatched a team of photographers to document the conflict. Among them was a Scottish-born immigrant named Alexander Gardner, the photographer who took this photo of Lincoln at Antietam as well as other famous wartime shots. The man to Lincoln's right is Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, whom Lincoln had as head of a personal security detail during the war. Gardner titled another shot of Pinkerton and his brother William at Antietam “The Secret Service ...
His Excellency: George Washington Esq: L.L.D. Late Commander in Chief of the Armies of the U.S. of America and President of the Convention of 1787
In 1787, the confederation of the 13 American states was descending into disarray. The coffers were empty, New York and New Jersey were in a dispute over duties charged on goods crossing state lines, farmers in Massachusetts were rebelling, and Spain and Britain were encroaching on American territories in the west. The Federal Convention was called to address the problems of governing the young republic under the existing Articles of Confederation. The convention responded by framing the document that became the United States Constitution. The convention delegates elected George Washington ...
Declaration of Independence. In Congress, July 4, 1776, a Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled.
This document is the first printed version of the American Declaration of Independence. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced a resolution urging Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, to declare independence from Great Britain. Four days later, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston were appointed as a committee to draft a declaration of independence. The committee’s draft was read in Congress on June 28. On July 4, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, containing a list of grievances against the British ...
Interview with Fountain Hughes, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 1949
Approximately 4 million slaves were freed at the conclusion of the American Civil War. The stories of a few thousand have been passed on to future generations through word of mouth, diaries, letters, records, or written transcripts of interviews. Only 26 audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves have been found, 23 of which are in the collections of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In this interview, 101-year-old Fountain Hughes recalls his boyhood as a slave, the Civil War, and life in the United States as an African American ...
The Lincoln Bible
On March 4, 1861, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln using a Bible provided by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court, because Lincoln’s family Bible was packed with other belongings that still were en route to Washington from Springfield, Illinois. In the back of the velvet-covered Bible, along with the seal of the Supreme Court, the volume is annotated: "I, William Thos. Carroll, clerk of the said court do hereby certify that the preceding copy of the Holy Bible is ...
A Summary View of the Rights of British America: Set Forth in Some Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the People of Virginia, Now in Convention / by a Native, and Member of the House of Burgesses
This pamphlet is Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which he originally drafted in July 1774 as a set of instructions for the Virginia delegates to the first Continental Congress. Jefferson argued that the British Parliament had no rights to govern the colonies, which he claimed had been independent since their founding. He also described the usurpations of power and deviations from law committed by King George III and Parliament. Jefferson was not present in the Virginia House when his draft ...
Thomas Jefferson, Head-and-Shoulders Portrait, Facing Right
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America and one of the founding fathers of the republic. With the nation still in the process of solidifying its identity, political figures became a popular subject for contemporary artists, much as kings, aristocracy, and religious figures had been in the past. Portrait painters also hoped to earn money by painting politically important individuals, either from the subject himself or from enthusiasts in his entourage. The French artist Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin (1770-1852) did two engravings of ...
Osceola of Florida, Drawn on Stone by Geo. Catlin, from his Original Portrait
Osceola was a Seminole war chief who led the resistance to the campaign by U.S. federal troops to forcibly resettle his tribe to territory west of the Mississippi River. Known as the Second Seminole War (1835-42), this was one of the most destructive campaigns by federal authorities against American Indians. Despite outnumbering the Seminoles ten to one, the U.S. troops failed to secure a quick victory. They then turned to desperate measures and deception, including capturing and imprisoning Osceola under the pretence of negotiating a truce. The American ...
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, agricultural workers fled the Dust Bowl conditions on the Great Plains in search of employment in the American West. Many of these people eventually found their way to the migrant work camps in central California that had been established, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). In this song, Mrs. Mary Sullivan tells how she left Texas, traveled across New Mexico and Arizona in search of work, and after surviving the catastrophic March 1938 Colton, California ...
The Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on March 5th 1770 by a Party of the 29th Regiment
In Boston in the late 1760s, the stirrings of what became the American Revolution began as residents grew angry about the heavy taxation to which they were subjected. With the Townshend Acts of 1767, the British placed taxes on imported goods, including glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea. To enforce the acts, they imposed a heavy military presence on the Massachusetts colonists that exacerbated tensions between the local populace and representatives of the crown. On March 5, 1770, British sentries guarding the Boston Customs House were surrounded by jeering Bostonians ...
Through the Brazilian Wilderness, by Theodore Roosevelt: With Illustrations from Photographs by Kermit Roosevelt and Other Members of the Expedition
After failing to win a third term in the elections of 1912, former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt planned a speaking trip to Argentina and Brazil and a cruise up the Amazon. The government of Brazil suggested that Roosevelt join the famous Brazilian explorer Cândido Rondon in an expedition down the recently discovered River of Doubt. Roosevelt accepted the invitation and, accompanied by his son Kermit, reached the river with Rondon on February 27, 1914. From the beginning, the expedition was fraught with difficulties, including disease, lack of supplies, and ...
Photograph of Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House
This photograph shows Elvis Presley meeting with President Richard M. Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. That morning, Presley personally delivered a hand-written note to the security guard at the northwest gate of the White House, saying that he wanted to meet Nixon to present him with the gift of a World War II-era pistol and ask for credentials as an agent in the national war on drugs. Convinced that Presley was sincere and believing that he could be an asset in the fight against drug use ...
George Bush, Captain of the Yale Baseball Team, Receives Babe Ruth's Manuscript of His Autobiography Which He Was Donating to Yale
George Herman (“Babe”) Ruth was the most celebrated American athlete of the 1920s, a period that has been called the Golden Age of Sports for its extraordinary hero-athletes in baseball, football, golf, boxing, horse-racing, and other sports. Ruth was born to German-American parents in Baltimore in 1895. He began his major-league career in 1914 as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, winning 89 games in six years. In 1920 he was sold to the New York Yankees and converted to being an outfielder, where he made his mark as ...
President John F. Kennedy Greets Peace Corps Volunteers, White House, South Lawn
This photograph shows President John F. Kennedy greeting Peace Corps volunteers on the South Lawn of the White House on August 9, 1962. Kennedy first proposed what became the Peace Corps in a speech at the University of Michigan on October 14, 1960, in which he challenged students to give two years of their lives to helping people in countries of the developing world. At the time, Kennedy was a member of the U.S. Senate campaigning for the presidency. Following his election, he signed an executive order establishing the ...
Treaty of Paris
This treaty, sent to Congress by the American negotiators John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, formally ended the Revolutionary War. It was one of the most advantageous treaties ever negotiated for the United States. Two crucial provisions were British recognition of U.S. independence and the delineation of boundaries that would allow for American expansion westward to the Mississippi River. Two duplicate originals of the treaty exist in the American Original file of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. They are most easily distinguished from each other ...
Initially, the Civil War between the North and the South was fought by the North to prevent the secession of the South and preserve the Union. Ending slavery was not a goal. That changed on September 22, 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that slaves in those states or parts of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be free. One hundred days later Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas “are ...
Dunlap Broadside [Declaration of Independence]
John Dunlap, official printer to the Continental Congress, produced the first printed versions of the American Declaration of Independence in his Philadelphia shop on the night of July 4, 1776. After the Declaration had been adopted by the Congress earlier that day, a committee took the manuscript document, possibly Thomas Jefferson's "fair copy" of his rough draft, to Dunlap for printing. On the morning of July 5, copies were dispatched by members of Congress to various assemblies, conventions, and committees of safety as well as to the commanders of ...
To the Woods!
This political cartoon by Clifford Kennedy Berryman (1869-1949) features President Theodore Roosevelt and the Teddy Bear character. Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, was responsible for the association between Roosevelt and the popular toy bear. In November 1902, Roosevelt took part in a bear hunt in Mississippi. In the course of the hunt, Roosevelt came upon a bear that had been wounded by the hunt’s dogs and at first refused to shoot it, but later ordered that the animal be killed to end its suffering. The Washington Post ...
Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) was the 16th president of the United States. He was born on a farm in Kentucky and moved with his family to Indiana at age eight. At age 21, he moved to Illinois, where he held various jobs and began to study law. He had less than one year of formal education, but became a skilled writer by reading the King James Bible and other English classics. He practiced law in Illinois, served in the Illinois General Assembly, and was elected to the U.S. House of ...
Hayward, California, Two Children of the Mochida Family who, with Their Parents, Are Awaiting Evacuation
In 1942, Executive Order 9066 ordered the removal of 110,000 civilians of Japanese descent, including 71,000 American citizens, from the western United States for placement in internment camps. The evacuees were suspected, without evidence, of being potential supporters of Japan, with which the United States was then at war. This photograph, taken by noted photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) for the government agency known as the War Relocation Authority, shows one family waiting to be taken away. Lange’s notes on the photograph read: "Members of the Mochida family ...
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Mathew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, in a Crowd
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in August 1963 and was the setting for the celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A. Philip Randolph, a labor leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, proposed a large march on the capital as a way of prodding Congress and the administration of President John F. Kennedy to act on civil rights. Others involved in its planning included King himself, National ...