Major Topics

Titlesort icon Summary
"Westward Ho!"  Working drawing for the U.S. Capital, 1861 Manifest Destiny
Phineas Taylor Barnum Market Revolution
Thomas Jonathan Jackson, First Lieutenant, circa 1850 Mexican War
Howell Cobb Panic of 1857
"Protecting the Herd," Frederic Remington, circa 1907 Plains Indian Wars
Locomotive at Leavenworth, Lawrence, & Galveston Railroad Bridge over the Kansas River, Lawrence, Kansas, 1867 Railroads
Hiram Rhoades Revels, detail Reconstruction
Legislative Iconic image, U.S. Capitol, 2008 Reconstruction Amendments
Destruction of the U.S. transport John Warner by confederate batteries on Red River, May 4, 1864 Red River Campaign
Abraham Lincoln, 1858 Republican Party
T.D. Rice, performing as "Jim Crow," artist's impression, circa 1840 Rise of Jim Crow
"The Union is Dissolved," December 20, 1860 Secession
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, circa 1856 Seneca Falls
William Tecumseh Sherman, detail Sherman's March
"Am I not a Man and a Brother?" Slavery
Slavery in the future United States began in the early seventeenth century as European trading vessels brought Africans across the northern Atlantic to provide forced labor for the new colonies in places such as Virginia.  Within a century, all of the colonies in British North America had developed forms of African chattel slavery.  After the American Revolution and by the end of the eighteenth century, most northern states initiated plans to abolish slavery.  Some southern states appeared at least on the surface to be moving in that direction until the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s altered the trajectory of slavery's profitability in the South.  During the first half of the nineteenth century, slavery expanded southwestward with astonishing speed creating what many began to call the "Cotton Kingdom."  American slaves engaged in numerous activities besides cotton picking and experienced a wide array of conditions in their various forms of enslavement, but it was without doubt the vast antebellum cotton plantations that came to embody the great contrast between the South's "peculiar institution" and fast-growing northern factories and marketplaces.  The Civil War ended this growing national division, destroying a great deal of white southern wealth in the process and ultimately leading to the downfall of Amerian slavery in 1865. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Samuel Finley Breese Morse, circa 1840, detail Telegraph
Scenes in the House of Representatives on passage of Thirteenth Amendment, January 31, 1865, artist's impression, detail Thirty-Eighth Congress of the United States
Lobby, House of Representatives, during passage of the Civil Rights Bill, March 13, 1866, zoomable image, detail. Thirty-Ninth Congress of the United States
Federal Government and Politics, iconic image Thirty-Seventh Congress of the United States
Ralph Waldo Emerson Transcendentalism