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In this activity students examine sheet music and letters from draft rioters to examine Union attitudes about the military draft during the Civil War.
This letter was written by an African-American soldier of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment in the midst of a heated battle to take the Confederate fortifications on Folly Island, South Carolina. It conveys the determination of black soldiers in the [...]
In this letter to the editor, a Georgia soldier condemns the so-called "Twenty Negro Law" exempting large slaveholders from service in the Confederate Army. The anonymous soldier articulates the feelings of many poor Southern whites, most of whom [...]
In 1863, Congress issued a Conscription Act to draft more people into the army to fight the Civil War. The draft law also included a provision that allowed wealthy men to pay $300 to a substitute, thus avoiding military service. In response, in New [...]
In this 1863 editorial, Frederick Douglass calls all able-bodied African Americans to take up arms in defense of the Union. He encourages them to travel to Boston in order to join one of the first regiments of black soldiers forming there.
On July 20, four days after federal troops put down the 1863 Draft Riot, a group of Wall Street businessmen formed a committee to aid New York's devastated black community. The Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People Suffering from [...]
In 1862, American painter Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) made trips to Union encampments to witness and sketch the war's events. Throughout the war, African-American men, women, and children escaped slavery by fleeing to Union encampments. Union [...]
The worst episode of large-scale urban violence in American history, the New York City draft riots were sparked by the passage of conscription laws which made thousands of male New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 45 eligible to be drafted into [...]
The so-called "Twenty Negro Law," enacted by the Confederate Congress in 1862, allowed an exemption from military service for slaveholders who owned twenty or more slaves. In effect, this allowed large plantation owners and overseers to avoid [...]