Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Today's post comes from Jim Zeender, Senior Registrar in the National Archives Exhibits Office. On October 1, 2016, the Mount Vernon Museum opened a new and groundbreaking exhibition called “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” The exhibition explores the long and complex relationship between George Washington and his slaves and his evolving attitudes … Continue reading Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s Bank

Today's post was written by Damani Davis, reference archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC. On March 3, 2015, the National Archives will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings & Trust Company, better known as the "Freedman’s Bank.” The founding of the Freedman’s Bank was spearheaded by John W. Alvord, a Congregationalist … Continue reading 150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s Bank

On Display: Record of the Kidnapping of Solomon Northup

The slave manifest of the brig Orleans, April 27, 1841 is on display from February 21 to March 30 in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Today’s post comes from curator Corinne Porter. From the birth of the American republic to the abolition of slavery, kidnapping for sale into … Continue reading On Display: Record of the Kidnapping of Solomon Northup

Celebrating the life of an ancestor who was a “12 Years A Slave”

This past summer, Vera Williams attended her annual family reunion and Solomon Northup Day. The day honors her great-great-great grandfather, Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and forced into slavery in 1841. When Northup escaped, he wrote a book about his experiences and—most shockingly for that era—took his kidnappers to trial. The … Continue reading Celebrating the life of an ancestor who was a “12 Years A Slave”

Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

The Constitution hasn’t changed much since it was adopted in 1787. However, it has been tweaked by 27 amendments—some were ratified in a few months, another took more than two centuries. The ink on the Constitution had barely dried in 1787 when people discovered what it did not say. It did not spell out adequately, … Continue reading Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

The 150th Anniversary of the United States Colored Troops

Today's blog post comes from archives specialist Jackie Budell. On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United … Continue reading The 150th Anniversary of the United States Colored Troops

Emancipation Proclamation: A Letter Home

Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation brought freedom to the slaves in the Confederacy. By the war's end, the U.S. Colored Troops Bureau had recruited hundreds of thousands of black soldiers, who fought for both their own and others' freedom. The Emancipation … Continue reading Emancipation Proclamation: A Letter Home

Emancipation Proclamation: Creation of the United States Colored Troops

The issues of freedom for the slaves and military service were intertwined from the beginning of the Civil War. News from Fort Sumter had set off a rush by free black men to enlist in military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred them from bearing arms for … Continue reading Emancipation Proclamation: Creation of the United States Colored Troops

Emancipation Proclamation: “It is my Desire to be Free”

Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick. Only 100 days after promising in the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that slaves in the Confederacy would soon be freed, Lincoln fulfilled that promise by signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This proclamation changed the character of the war, adding moral force … Continue reading Emancipation Proclamation: “It is my Desire to be Free”

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick. Throughout the Civil War, when President Lincoln needed to concentrate—when he faced a task that required his focused and undivided attention—he would leave the White House, cross the street to the War Department, and take over the desk of Thomas T. Eckert, chief … Continue reading The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation