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Social History for Every Classroom

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A Union Army General Describes the Impact of Contraband Slaves

In the testimony that follows, a general tells Congress how contraband slaves served his army and had a dramatic impact on the way Union soldiers thought about slavery and freedom.

The Preamble of the United States Constitution

The Preamble to the United States Constitution went through at least two drafts. The first draft and the final draft are included here.

A Freedman and a General Discuss the Meanings of Freedom

What exactly should be done for freedmen, if anything, was hotly debated in the years following the Civil War. As this exchange between a Union military officer and a former slave in Arkansas shows, even the meaning of freedom was up for grabs.

Southern Democrats Declare "a Dead Radical Is Very Harmless"

In 1876, using the Mississippi Plan as their model, the Democratic Party in South Carolina organized a chilling campaign of violence to steal the election for governor. Their strategy, excerpted below, succeeded with the election of former [...]

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Preserves Mexicans' Rights in the Southwest

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, ceded 525,000 square miles--55% of--Mexican territory to the United States. In exchange, the United States paid approximately $15 million in damages to pay for [...]

An Apprentice's Indenture Contract (with text supports)

Many English settlers arrived in the colonies as indentured servants. Because poor men and women could not afford the cost of travel to North America, they bound themselves for four to seven years’ labor in return for passage across the [...]

The 14th and 15th Amendments

Following the Civil War and abolition of slavery, Republicans in Congress passed reconstruction laws meant to guarantee full citizenship and suffrage to African Americans. The 14th amendment required states to guarantee the rights of all citizens, [...]

The NAACP Challenges Social Security (with text supports)

President Roosevelt sent his Social Security bill, named the “Economic Security Act,” to Congress in January 1935. Congress held committee hearings on the bill. Here, a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored [...]

A South Carolina Textile Mill Owner Explains Child Labor

In 1914 members of Congress were preparing to vote on the the Palmer-Owen Child Labor Bill, which would have banned interstate commerce in goods produced using the labor of children. Lewis Parker was the owner and manager of several textile mills, [...]

A Southern Cotton Mill Owner Justifies Child Labor

Daniel Augustus Tompkins was an owner and investor in numerous cotton mills in North Carolina. His beliefs reflected those of many mill owners, who argued in favor of child labor.


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