Seeing America

1800 – 1848

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videos + essays

Over the next two years, Seeing America will grow to include 100 videos, 18 essays, quizzes, discussion questions and lesson plans.

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.

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.

Dignity in the face of injustice: <em>The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas</em>
Dignity in the face of injustice: The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas

This dignified portrait of a Native leader belies the cruel treatment he endured at the time of its painting.

Becoming a city: daily life in 1820, Brooklyn
Becoming a city: daily life in 1820, Brooklyn

This snowy image of a bygone Brooklyn is sprinkled with farm animals, townspeople... and casual racism.

When California was Spanish: Native Americans in New Spain
When California was Spanish: Native Americans in New Spain

The artist used Spanish coins as models for the coats of arms woven into this basket in California, then New Spain.

Celebrating the spirit of American enterprise, <em>Bargaining for a Horse</em>
Celebrating the spirit of American enterprise, Bargaining for a Horse

Is there a political message behind this image of two farmers settling the price of a horse?

Wilderness, settlement, and American identity
Wilderness, settlement, and American identity

Cole feared for the American landscape as his country expanded westward.

Before the Civil War, the Mexican-American War as prelude
Before the Civil War, the Mexican-American War as prelude

Painted for a divided US, people from North and South could identify with this image—others remain marginalized.