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Triumph and Tragedy: U.S. Reconstruction, 1865-1877

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Social Studies +2 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection brings together Smithsonian and other federal resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day 2019, "Triumph and Tragedy in History." #NHD2019


These resources - including photographs, broadsides, political cartoons, publications, correspondence, ledger books, and government documents - explore the varying experiences, political arguments, and consequences of the period following the American Civil War, known as Reconstruction. Resources highlight the opposing ideas for and against Reconstruction policies - and their consequences - by the federal government and its citizens, political leaders and activists during Reconstruction, Constitutional Amendments passed during this era, supporting secondary resources, and various cartoons, broadsides, speeches, and imagery portraying the African American response to Reconstruction policies and the promises of citizenship and equal rights. Also included are primary source documents that provide a glimpse into how Reconstruction may have affected individual lives and businesses, and links to digitized collections (and corresponding transcriptions) of thousands of documents from the U.S. Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands. 

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research. 

Tags: Civil War, Reconstruction, U.S. Reconstruction, postwar, South, perspective, politics, southern democrats, Radical Republicans, African Americans, Freedmen's Bureau, Records of the Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands, art, photographs, political cartoons, military, 19th century, 1800s, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Hiram Revels, amendments, #NHD

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Smithsonian Transcription Center

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Smithsonian Transcription Center

The Fifteenth Amendment. Celebrated May 19th 1870

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction

National Portrait Gallery

Reconstruction

National Museum of American History

Andrew Johnson

National Portrait Gallery

Heroes of the Colored Race

National Portrait Gallery

Radical Members of the South Carolina Legislature

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Patience on a Monument

National Museum of African American History and Culture

A Visit from the Old Mistress

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Andrew Johnson

National Portrait Gallery

The Inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes

National Portrait Gallery

American Sketches: A Negro Congregation at Washington

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Story of the Jubilee Singers: With Their Songs

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Ku Klux Klan, [sheet music]

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Pamphlet for the Ku Klux Klan written by Colonel William Joseph Simmons

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Smithsonian Transcription Center

Pinback button featuring a campaign portrait of Senator William B. Nash

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Cabinet card portrait of Thomas Mundy Peterson

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Carte-de-visite portrait of John W. Menard

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Carte-de-visite portrait of Charles Sumner

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Page 53 from Harper's Weekly with an article about John W. Menard

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Octavius Catto

National Portrait Gallery

Salmon P. Chase

National Portrait Gallery

Andrew Johnson

National Portrait Gallery

John Roy Lynch

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Lithographic print of Hiram Revels

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Smithsonian Transcription Center

[Robert L. Moir Letter,] 1867

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

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Smithsonian Transcription Center

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Smithsonian Transcription Center