Antebellum America, Civil War and Reconstruction

Though the Civil War began in 1861, its roots go back decades, and its effects continue to be seen today.

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Face to face with the voters: Bingham’s <em>Country Politician</em>
Face to face with the voters: Bingham’s Country Politician

Before TV and Twitter, politicians talked to voters face-to-face.

Snakes and petticoats? Making sense of politics at the end of the Civil War
Snakes and petticoats? Making sense of politics at the end of the Civil War

The makers of this ostentatious ceramic jug used images from popular satire to poke fun at the Civil War politics.

Seneca Village: the lost history of African Americans in New York
Seneca Village: the lost history of African Americans in New York

The creation of a beloved landmark destroyed a thriving community of African Americans and Irish immigrants.

Henry Ossawa Tanner: the first African-American celebrity artist
Henry Ossawa Tanner: the first African-American celebrity artist

Tanner studied in Philadelphia and Paris, and his style combined elements of American Realism and the Old Masters.

Unveiling 19th-century American values in <em>The Greek Slave</em>
Unveiling 19th-century American values in The Greek Slave

Though at first glance this nude seems plucked from classical antiquity, it actually alludes to modern politics.

Soaring above politics: the Washington Monument
Soaring above politics: the Washington Monument

Unlike the other monuments on the Mall, this monument tells us virtually nothing about the man it commemorates.

The Civil War: putting liberty front and center
The Civil War: putting liberty front and center

Johnson’s moving painting of a family fleeing slavery places the courage of African-Americans center stage.

<em>Washington Crossing the Delaware</em>, An American icon made in Germany
Washington Crossing the Delaware, An American icon made in Germany

This gigantic canvas is one of the most famous in the history of American art, but it wasn’t made in the USA.

Representing freedom during the Civil War
Representing freedom during the Civil War

This remarkable work honors those who fought for their own freedom, but acknowledges that the struggle goes on.

Shrady and Casey, <em>Ulysses S. Grant Memorial</em>
Shrady and Casey, Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

Shrady’s sneaky self-portrait within this sculpture took on tragic connotations after the monument claimed his life.