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Reason Introduction

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

In June 1803, President Thomas Jefferson wrote to Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809), his private secretary and a U.S. army captain, instructing the expedition to explore the Missouri basin by crossing over the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Among the Library’s significant collection of manuscripts and published maps documenting the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1770–1838) to the Pacific Northwest between 1800 and 1803 are published maps issued with the final reports of the expedition, interim composite maps showing the progress of the expedition, and maps used or consulted in planning the expedition.

The example shown here is a composite map drawn in 1803 by Nicholas King, a War Department copyist, from published and manuscript sources, at the request of Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin. The map reflects the geographical concepts of government leaders on the eve of the expedition. It is believed that Lewis and Clark carried this map on the expedition, at least as far as the Mandan-Hidasta villages on the Missouri River, where Lewis annotated in brown ink additional information obtained from fur traders. This map, as well as twelve other manuscript maps, which are thought to have belonged to William Clark, was transferred to the Library of Congress in 1925 from the Office of Indian Affairs.

Among the Library’s original maps documenting the expedition (1803–06) of Lewis and William Clark are published maps issued with the final reports of the expedition, as well as planning maps and those actually carried with them. This 1814 map was the first composite map to report the expedition’s discoveries.

One of the reasons the Lewis and Clark expedition succeeded in traversing the northwestern portion of North America and reaching the Pacific Ocean was because the leaders meticulously consulted the best cartographic sources that were available at the beginning of the nineteenth century to create a composite image of the geography of the western portion of North America.

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“Mr. Watson—come here!”

Alexander Graham Bell’s notebook entry of March 10, 1876, describes the first successful experiment with the telephone, during which he spoke through the instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, in the next room. Bell writes, “I then shouted into M [the mouthpiece] the following sentence: ‘Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.’ To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”

Bell was born into a family deeply interested in speech and hearing. Both his father and grandfather were teachers of elocution, and throughout his life Bell had a keen interest in teaching the deaf to speak. Both his mother and the woman he married—Mabel Hubbard, one of his pupils—were deaf.

The Bell papers were donated to the Library of Congress by his heirs on June 2, 1975, the centenary of the day Bell discovered the principle that made the invention of the telephone possible. This extraordinarily rich collection totals about 130,000 items and documents in great detail Bell’s entire career, ranging from his work on the telephone to his interest in aeronautics and physics.

Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922). Lab notebook, March 10, 1876. The Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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Madison’s Book of “Logick”

This book of notes on the principles of logic is believed to have been written by James Madison during his junior and senior year at Princeton. Madison completed his degree in just two years but remained at the college an additional six months to study Hebrew and theology under Dr. John Witherspoon. In 1772, Madison returned to his native Virginia embarking on a brilliant political career that culminated in his election to the presidency of the United States.

James Madison (1751–1836). “A Brief System of Logick,” ca. 1770–1772. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. State Department Transfer, 1903 (123.9)

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Civil Society

The Woman’s Lawyer

English Common Law often provided the basis for judicial law in colonial America. But because of the lack of uniformity in the courts and legislative bodies from colony to colony, laws were subject to wide interpretation. By the later part of the eighteenth century, laws, even regarding women, became more specific. Thomas Jefferson owned this 1632 British volume “which comprehends all our Lawes concerning Women, either Children in government or nurture of their Parents or Gardians, Mayds, Wives, and Widowes, and their goods, inheritances, and other estates.”

Attributed to Sir John Dodderidge (1555–1625). The Lawes Resolutions of Women’s Rights: Or, The Lawe’s Provisions for Woemen. London: John More, Esq., 1632. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Purchase, 1815 (90.9)

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A Georgia Courthouse

This photograph of the interior of Green County Courthouse in Greensboro, Georgia, is by photographer Stephen Shore. It is one of approximately 1,100 courthouses photographed for the most comprehensive survey to date of a type of American building. Commissioned by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. to mark the bicentennial of the United States of America, the Seagram County Courthouse Archive was presented as a gift to the Library of Congress in 1980.

Stephen Shore (b. 1947). [Interior of Green County Courthouse, Greensboro, Georgia.] Dye coupler color photograph, ca. 1975. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the Seagram Company, 1980 (88A)

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A South Carolina Courthouse

This 1826 Greek Revival courthouse by Robert Mills is a fitting example of the courthouse as symbol of democracy. It is one of more than 11,000 courthouses photographed in a project that created the most comprehensive survey to date of an American building type. Commissioned by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. to mark the bicentennial of the United States of America, the Seagram County Court House Archive was presented as a gift to the Library of Congress in 1980.

Jim Dow, photographer. Kershaw County Court House, Camden, South Carolina. Dye coupler color photograph, ca. 1975. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Seagram County Court House Archives, © Jim Dow. Gift of the Seagram Company, 1980 (88.8)

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A Wife’s Chronicle

In this memoir Malvina Harlan chronicled her fifty-four-year marriage to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan (1833–1911), a Kentucky lawyer and former slaveholder. During his thirty-four years on the court, Harlan was an important dissenting voice in key rulings on civil rights, including the Civil Rights cases of 1883 and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In 1883 the high court effectively overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Originally championed by Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, the 1875 act guaranteed federal protection to “citizens of every race and color” in their access to accommodations such as railroads, hotels, theaters and “other places of public amusement.” While the majority of the court ruled narrowly in 1883 that regulation of civil rights was the prerogative of the states, Harlan argued that Congress was within its powers to pass appropriate legislation to enforce the spirit of equality intended in the passage of the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution. Here his wife notes “as all lawyers know, the Court declared the Sumner Act unconstitutional, my husband alone dissenting.”

Malvina Shanklin Harlan (1839–1916). “Some Memories of A Long Life.” Typescript memoir, 1915 [published in the Journal of Supreme Court History, 2001]. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (102.2)

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The “General Fundamentals” of the Plymouth Colony

The Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New-Plimouth is one of the oldest items in the Library’s collection of American laws. This 1685 book reproduces the contents of a 1671 volume, which was the first edition of the laws to be printed, and adds laws enacted between 1671 and 1684. The Colony of New Plymouth, founded by the Pilgrims who arrived in the Mayflower in December 1620, occupied the southeastern corner of the present state of Massachusetts. It was soon surpassed in population and wealth by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, centered on Boston, and was annexed to Massachusetts in 1691.

The Colony of New Plymouth made several major contributions to American legal institutions. In 1636, when the population was less than three thousand people, a committee of the General Court composed a legal code, the first produced in North America. It contains what one scholar has called a “rudimentary bill of rights,” which guarantees trial by jury and stipulates that all laws are to be made with the consent of the freemen of the colony. The “General Fundamentals” of the 1671 code state that “no person . . . shall be endamaged in respect of life, limb, liberty, good name or estate . . . but by virtue of some express law of the General Court of this Colony, the known Law of God, or the good and equitable laws of our Nation.”

The punishment for adultery set out in this code and in the 1694 laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, stipulating that adulterers must bear the letters “A” and “D,” provide the basis for some of the best known elements in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter.

The Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New-Plimouth. Boston: Samuel Green, 1685. Law Library, Library of Congress ( August 4, 2010 )

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A Quaker Book of Discipline

This collection of “advices” for the behavior of American Quakers was a compilation of guidelines covering every aspect of Quaker life—from individual “conduct and conversation” to proper management of meetings. The guidelines were periodically issued from 1682 through 1763 by the highest institutional authority of American Quakerism, the “Yearly Meeting.” The compilation may have been made by the Meeting itself for local distribution. Its purpose was to establish “Decency and comely Order in all our Meetings of Worship & Business, as well as orderly Walking, Honesty, & Plainness in the particular Members of our Society.”

A Collection of Christian & Brotherly Advices Given forth from time to time By the Yearly-Meetings of Friends For Pennsylvania & New-Jersey, Held alternately at Burlington & Philadelphia Alphabetically digested under Proper Heads. Manuscript volume, ca. 1763. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6 - Page 7 - Page 8. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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The Murder of Crispus Attucks

On the night of March 5, 1770, five citizens of Boston died when eight British soldiers fired on a large and unruly crowd that was menacing them. Boston’s patriots, led by Sam Adams, immediately labeled the affray the Boston Massacre and hailed its victims as martyrs for liberty. The troops had been sent to Boston in late 1768 to support the civil authorities and were themselves subject to the jurisdiction of the local courts. All eight soldiers were jailed and tried for murder. They were defended by John Adams, who later became the second President of the United States, and acquitted on grounds of self defense. The patriots used the trial to demonstrate that law rather than mob rule had been maintained in Boston, and that even the hated redcoats could receive a fair trial.

The Trial of William Wemms ... for the Murder of Crispus Attucks . . . Boston: J. Fleeming, 1770. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4. Law Library, Library of Congress

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Acts Passed at a Congress

The first session of the First Congress met at New York from March 4 to September 29, 1789. It established procedures for dealing with the President, passed laws establishing the executive departments (State, War, Treasury) and the federal judiciary, and set the tariff on imports, which supplied most of the revenue of the federal government. The major objection to the new Constitution had been the absence of a Bill of Rights, and only after both houses of Congress approved the Bill of Rights on September 25 did the last two holdout states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, agree to join the Union. This copy bears George Washington’s signature on the title page and includes the texts of laws, appropriations and the proposed amendments to the Constitution that formed the Bill of Rights.

Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New-York . . . . New York: F. Childs and J. Swaine, printers to the United States, 1789. Law Library, Library of Congress (92.3)

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The Fifteenth Amendment

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified and enacted in early spring, 1870, gave male citizens the right to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. In its central vignette, this historical lithograph records a grand parade held in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 19, 1870. Surrounding the central scene are political portraits and those of notable abolitionists as well as scenes of African Americans freely participating in the cultural, economic, religious, political, and military life of the nation.

Thomas Kelly after James C. Beard. The 15th Amendment. Celebrated May 19th 1870. New York: 1870. Lithograph with watercolor. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit, 1870 (89.1)

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Roosevelt’s Inauguration, March 4, 1905

Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural procession was notably festive. The president-elect waved to the thousands of well wishers lining the route, and a contingent of Rough Riders, who had charged San Juan with Roosevelt eight years earlier, escorted him. In contrast to the jubilant festivities, Roosevelt delivered a short, dignified inaugural speech for which the Library has his random notes. Roosevelt stepped aside after serving one term. Four years later, Roosevelt made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency—losing to Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

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McKinley’s Inaugurations, 1897 and 1901

William McKinley (1843–1901), twenty-fifth president of the United States, was the third to be assassinated while in office. He was shot while at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and died on September 14, 1901. McKinley’s two terms in office saw the rise of the agrarian Populist Party and the fierce battle between free silver and the gold standard, the latter favored by McKinley. He advocated high tariffs to protect American industry and was caught up with the American expansionist impulse associated with the Spanish-American War. Seen here is Collier’s coverage of President McKinley’s 1901 inaugural speech accompanied by a Winchester rifle advertisement featuring Teddy Roosevelt.

William McKinley’s two inaugurations took place on the east portico of the Capitol, followed by lavish balls held in the sumptuous hall of the Pension Building, now the National Building Museum. The design and contents of McKinley’s 1897 and 1901 inaugural ball booklets are similar to those used throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include names of various ball committee members, musical selections for the evening, and spaces for listing dancing partners.

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Harrison’s Inauguration

William Henry Harrison (1773–1841), who served the shortest presidential term, gave the longest inaugural address. Harrison was inaugurated on March 4, 1841, on a cold, wet day and, refusing to wear a hat or coat, caught cold. He then attended three inaugural balls in the evening. Harrison’s “Tippecanoe” ball was held at the District’s Carusi’s Saloon with approximately 1,000 people paying ten dollars each to attend. The president’s cold lingered and then turned more serious, until, on April 4, 1841, he succumbed to pneumonia becoming the first president to die in office.

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Buchanan’s Inauguration

Montgomery C. Meigs (1816–1892), the Supervisory Engineer of the Capitol expansion, pasted the first-known photograph of an inauguration beside his journal entry for March 4, 1857. Photographer, John Wood, experimented with the photographic process in anticipation of documenting James Buchanan’s (1791–1868) inauguration. Meigs wrote: “Mr. Wood has been trying some photography process of great speed for the purpose of taking a view of the inauguration. He made a view of the front of the Capitol in which the figures are, many of them, quite distinct. It took about 4 seconds.”

Inauguration of James Buchanan, President of the United States, at the east front of the U. S. Capitol. Albumen print, March 4, 1857. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (88A)

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A White House Mob

This frontispiece illustrates the raucousness of the crowd in front of the White House at Jackson’s first inaugural reception in 1829. During the inaugural festivities, the rowdy mob broke windows, tore down curtains, and stood upon the furniture in their muddy boots. Servants dragged tubs of punch onto the lawn to draw the unruly mob out of the president’s house to minimize the destruction. A letter from South Carolina Representative James Hamilton (1786–1857) to Secretary of State-elect Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) the day after the event recounts the occasion as a “regular Saturnalia.”

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Jackson’s First Inauguration

The 1829 and 1833 inaugural speeches made by Andrew Jackson were brief and to the point. They belie the tumultuous character of his two administrations in which the questions of nullification (i.e. permitting states to nullify federal legislation), a national bank, the “spoils” system, a democratic party representative of the “people,” and “kitchen cabinet” advisors came to the fore. Jackson’s 1829 inaugural was the first in which the “people” played a significant role and which they attended en masse.

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Grant’s Inauguration

Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), elected as the eighteenth president of the United States, wrote his first inaugural address entirely on his own. The result was a surprise lecture on the urgent need for reduction of the national debt. The issue of Reconstruction was scarcely mentioned. Grant may have accepted the responsibilities of the office of president “without fear,” as he claimed, but also without knowledge of the problems that confronted the nation in the aftermath of the Civil War.

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Polk’s Inauguration

Elected with a public mandate for the inclusion of Texas into the Federal Union, James K. Polk was inaugurated the eleventh president of the United States on March 4, 1845. With Polk’s encouragement and support, Congress approved a joint-resolution to offer Texas statehood on February 28, 1845. The following July, the Texas legislature accepted and on December 29, 1845, Polk signed the Texas Admissions Act making Texas the twenty-eighth state to enter the Union. After a stormy term in office, including a successful war against Mexico for Texas, Polk declined to run for re-election.

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The Gerrymander

In 1812, Jeffersonian Republicans forced through the Massachusetts legislature a bill rearranging district lines to assure them an advantage in the upcoming senatorial elections. Although Governor Elbridge Gerry had only reluctantly signed the law, a Federalist editor is said to have exclaimed upon seeing the new district lines, “Salamander! Call it a Gerrymander.” This cartoon-map first appeared in the Boston Gazette for March 26, 1812.

“The Gerrymander. A New Species of Monster.” Boston Gazette, March 26, 1812. Page 2. Newspaper. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (90.6)

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Laws of South Carolina

Since its establishment in 1832 as a separate part of the Library of Congress, the Law Library has acted to preserve the complete record of American law, including original editions of colonial, state, and territorial laws. This two-volume collection of laws in force, titles of those repealed, and the two royal charters granted by King Charles II was compiled by Nicholas Trott (1663–1740). It is one of the finest examples of early American printing.

The Laws of the Province of South-Carolina, in Two Parts. . . . Page 2. Charleston: Lewis Timothy, 1736. Law Division (92.1)

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Laws of Virginia

Since its establishment in 1832 as a separate part of the Library of Congress, the Law Library has acted to preserve the complete record of American law, including original editions of colonial, state, and territorial laws. This two-volume collection of laws in force, titles of those repealed, and the two royal charters granted by King Charles II was compiled by Nicholas Trott (1663–1740). It is one of the finest examples of early American printing.

Acts Passed at a General Assembly begun and held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg, on Monday the third day of May, 1779. Williamsburg: John Dixon and Thomas Nicolson, 1779. Law Division (92.6)

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The Pinkerton Agency

Pinkerton Inc. (formerly Pinkerton National Detective Agency), founded by Scottish immigrant Allan Pinkerton in 1850, is the nation’s oldest and largest security services company. Pinkerton’s Inc., donated to the Library an archive for the years 1850–1937 that includes numerous criminal investigations, “mug shots,” promotional materials, code books, an early form of a credit card, personnel records, and printed instructions for agency detectives. Two-thirds of the collection documents criminal activity from 1880–1910—including tracking the famed “Wild Bunch.” Pinkerton obtained these photographs of Harry “The Sundance Kid” Longbaugh with his mistress Etta Place and other members of the gang and used their images in agency “WANTED” posters. The gang photograph taken in Fort Worth, Texas, at the insistence of Butch Cassidy, to showcase their newly purchased derby hats became the gang’s undoing. Unaware of his sitters’ identities, the photographer displayed the image in his shop window, where the members were recognized by a law enforcement officer.

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  • Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884). Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Wanted advertisement in Spanish. Page 2. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (233, 233.1a,b)

  • De Young Studios, New York. [Harry Longbaugh and Etta Place.] Unknown Studio, Fort Worth, Texas. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (233, 233.1a,b)

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Thank-You from a Condemned Murderer

Shortly before his retirement in 1994, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun issued a dissent that expressed his dissatisfaction with the American system of capital punishment. In the case of Callins v. Collins he refused to “continue to coddle the Court’s delusion that the desired level of fairness” had been achieved in death-penalty cases. He declared: “I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” The condemned criminal, Bruce Callins, wrote this letter from death row to thank Blackmun for his action. The State of Texas executed Callins three years later.

Bruce Callins to Harry A. Blackmun, [1994]. Holograph letter.Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Harry Blackmun, 1997 (232.2)

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Roe v. Wade

In 1973 the United States Supreme Court ruled that a right of privacy under the Constitution guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion under certain circumstances. Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the opinion for the Court, circulated among his colleagues a draft announcement that he would later read from the bench as the opinion was released. Chief Justice Warren Burger, a boyhood friend, returned Blackmun’s draft with his comments, written in red pencil.

Harry A. Blackmun to Warren E. Burger. [Jan. 16, 1973]. Typewritten memorandum, with emendations. Page 4. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Harry A. Blackmun, 1997 (235.2a,b)

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Civil Rights

Standardizing the English Language

Appropriately covered in a cross-stitched ABC sampler, Noah Webster’s first speller helped initiate the cultural independence of America. Using his own money, Webster, a twenty-five-year-old rural Connecticut school teacher, published this uniform system of pronunciation and spelling with hopes that it would unify the new American nation under a common “American” language. Reissued and revised throughout the nineteenth century, more copies of Webster’s “blue-back speller” have been sold than any other book except the Bible.

Noah Webster (1758–1843). A Grammatical Institute of the English Language . . .Part I. Page 2. Hartford, Conn.: Hudson & Goodwin, for the author [1783]. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Gift of John D. Batchelder, 1936 (102B)

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Public Schools for Young Americans

This bird’s-eye view map of Young America, Illinois, emphasizes the importance that nineteenth-century Americans placed on a free public education for their children. Also evident from this print is the town’s grid street pattern, which echoes the nation’s rectangular survey system in which section sixteen in every township was reserved for the benefit of financing public schools, one of the ideals of American democracy.

Albert Ruger (1829–1899). Young America, Warren County, Illinois. Madison, Wisconsin: Ruger and Stone, 1869. Color lithographic print. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit (104A.2)

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A Common American Language

Noah Webster (1758–1843), a young rural Connecticut school teacher, used his own money to publish his first speller in 1783. His uniform system of pronunciation and spelling helped to unify the new American nation under a common “American” language. Although the book was reissued and revised throughout the nineteenth century, it was the 1829 edition, appearing in blue covers, that became the familiar “blue-back speller,” selling more copies in America than any book except the Bible.

Noah Webster (1758–1843). The Elementary Spelling Book. New York: G.F. Cooledge: [1829]. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (102C)

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Education through Reading

Although Abraham Lincoln considered his formal education to be “defective,” during his twenties he compensated by devoting intense effort to self-education through reading. While serving as New Salem postmaster and a member of the Illinois state assembly, Lincoln studied the law and taught himself surveying. After mastering Kirkham’s Grammar, he gave this copy to his beloved Ann Rutledge (1813–1835), inscribing it: “Ann M. Rutledge is now learning grammer [sic].”

Samuel Kirkham. English Grammar in Familiar Lectures. Cincinnati: N. & G. Guilford, 1828. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Jane Hamand, 1932 (107.8)

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The Federal Art Project

The Federal Art Project (FAP), which originated in 1935, existed in forty-eight states. Its strongest outreach program was in art education for children. FAP maintained more than 100 community art centers across the nation, managed art programs, and held art exhibitions of works produced by children and adults. Under this program thousands of posters, prints, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and murals were produced, which were then, in turn, loaned to schools, libraries, galleries, and other institutions. These programs spawned a new awareness of and appreciation for American art.

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A Pilgrim’s Progress Illustrated

Pilgrim’s Progress, first published in America in 1681, also encouraged a focus on heavenly rather than earthly concerns. Christian Pilgrim, author John Bunyan’s hero, overcomes temptation at every turn on his way from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The woodcut shown here is captioned “. . .see Christian’s Wife/Who did oppose his heavenly road to life/Now sets her face on Pilgrimage to go/And leads her Babes to escape impending Woe.”

John Bunyan. The Pilgrims Progress From This World to That Which is to Come. (Part II). Worchester: Issiah Thomas, 1790. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (102A.2)

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Strict Moral Instruction for Children

Early American children’s literature tells us much more about what parents and church leaders wanted to impress upon young minds than what children of the day were actually thinking. A Token for Children was the most popular book of moral instruction for children in the eighteenth century. It contains twenty-two examples of pious and obedient children who were well prepared for the prospect of early death and judgement. Little Ann Greenough who died at the age of five, “had an unspeakable delight in catechising,” and “was very frequent and constant in secret prayer,” with “thoughts of death wherein she took such pleasure.”

James Janeway. A Token for Children. Boston: 1728. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (102.4)

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Teaching Life’s Lessons

Learning one’s ABCs and moral instruction went hand-in-hand in early America. The Franklin Primer contains the alphabet, basic letter sounds, and stories. It’s reading lessons include the catechism of the Episcopal Church, Bible stories, and songs including one entitled “Against Lying.” Little Goody Two-Shoes, now a derisive term for the self-righteous, was the small heroine in a very popular book designed to instill gratitude and humility in children. She got her name early in the story, when, after being orphaned and impoverished and wearing only one shoe, was given a new pair. “Two-shoes, two-shoes!” she cried throughout the town.

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A More Playful Tone

Books intended for children took on a more playful tone as the nineteenth century progressed. John Latrobe’s classroom in the 1820s is a cheerful scene. Children are promised that they “may be presidents yet” through learning, goodness, and virtue. This rare, hand-colored pamphlet describes the duties of government officials in amusing verse. Progress in illustration helped to make books for children more attractive and entertaining. Chromolithography was perfected by Louis Prang of Boston in the 1860s. He printed popular maps and cards in color as well as illustrated books. Here Dame Duck instructs her nine ducklings how a well-bred duck should waddle, walk in a row, and swim.

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Poster and Game Board

Parker Brothers produced the 1889 board game Office Boy during the heyday of Horatio Alger’s popular stories of plucky lads reaching success through hard work and determination. The player can advance from stock boy to sweeping out and on to head of sales, trying to avoid carelessness, which will send him back to reprimand. The lucky winner becomes head of the firm. The poster advertises a Philadelphia bookseller carrying children’s books.

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Early Board Game

The Mansion of Happiness, designed by Anne Abbot and manufactured in 1843, may be the first board game published in the United States. The players hop along the spiral board, moving forward toward the mansion of happiness if they land on temperance or generosity, backward to the pillory if they land on idleness or immodesty. Mansion of Happiness was played with a teetotem, a small top inscribed with numbers, not dice, which would have been associated with gambling.

Anne Abbot. Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement. Salem, Massachusetts: W. & S.B. Ives, 1843. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (107D.2)

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A More Playful Tone

Books intended for children took on a more playful tone as the nineteenth century progressed. Progress in illustration helped to make books for children more attractive and entertaining. Chromolithography was perfected by Louis Prang of Boston in the 1860s. He was the premiere printer of illustrated books. In this accordion-shaped book the robin, bull-frog, fox, and weasel entertain themselves in the forest after the sun goes down and the children are asleep. The large advertisement above for the Children’s Pictorial Museum shows the publishing industry’s willingness to cater to children with color and illustration. There is no evidence that Joseph Lyons was able to print this magazine in Philadelphia in the 1850s.

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Abolition and Suffrage

A Narrative of Uncommon Sufferings

This first slave narrative independently printed in the North American colonies recounts the adventures of Briton Hammon (fl. 1760) during an extended absence from his master, which included shipwreck off the Florida capes, captivity among cannibalistic Indians, imprisonment by pirates in Havana, and service on several British gun ships, one of which saw action against the French.

Told in the picaresque style of the popular “rake’s progress” literature, this tale is representative of the early slave narrative genre and at the same time an example of another popular genre—captivity tales:

As soon as the Vessel was burnt down to the Water’s edge, the Indians stood for the Shore, together with our Boat, on board of which they put 5 hands. After we came to the Shore, they led me to their Hutts, where I expected nothing but immediate Death, and as they spoke broken English, were often telling me, while coming from the Sloop to the Shore, that they intended to roast me alive. But the Providence of God order’d it otherways, for He appeared for my Help, in this Mount of Difficulty, and they were better to me than my Fears, and soon unbound me, but set a Guard over me every Night.

This copy is one of only two known extant and was formerly in the great Americana library of the nineteenth-century collector George Brinley of Hartford Connecticut.

Among the nearly six thousand known slave narratives, the Library has significant examples of all types, including eighteenth-century pieces published separately for slave or former-slave authors, those published with the aid of nineteenth-century abolitionist editors, and an extensive compilation of ex-slave testimonials by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s.

A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings. Boston: Green & Russell, 1760. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Susan B. Anthony, Defendant

Susan B. Anthony’s personal copy of An Account of the Proceedings on the Trial of Susan B. Anthony is one of nearly four hundred items from her personal library of feminist and antislavery literature that Anthony gave to the Library of Congress in 1903.

At the trial, the judge penned his decision before hearing the case (his first criminal case) and discharged the jury because he maintained that there were no questions of fact for them to consider. He found Anthony guilty of voting illegally, fined her $100, and then made the mistake of asking her if she had anything to say.

“Yes, your honor,” seethed Anthony, “I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honor’s verdict, doomed to political subjection under this, so-called, form of government.“

Anthony’s copy of the Trial is inscribed by her as a gift to the Library and has a number of items tipped in after the text, including Anthony’s petition to Congress seeking remission of the fine and the congressional committee report denying her request.

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Adams Defends the Mutineers

After fifty-three African captives aboard the Spanish schooner Amistad mutinied off the coast of Cuba in 1839, killing the captain and cook, they tried to sail the vessel back to Africa. Captured off Long Island, their return was demanded by the Spanish government. Former president John Quincy Adams argued their case before the Supreme Court in 1841, and largely through his efforts, the captives were freed and permitted to return to Africa. Adams’s legal brief, “extraordinary for its power” in the words of Justice Joseph Story, was widely circulated in print and became a milestone in the abolitionist cause.

John Quincy Adams (1767–1848). Brief in the Amistad Case. Autograph notes, [February 24 and March 1, 1841]. Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6 - Page 7 - Page 8. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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The American Colonization Society

The American Colonization Society was founded in 1817 to relocate freeborn and emancipated blacks to Africa. In 1855 African American Robert K. Griffin emigrated to Liberia at he age of nineteen under the auspices of the Society. His watercolor portrait of the Liberian Senate was based on daguerreotype portraits of the sitters, some of which are shown here. The daguerreotype process created laterally reversed images unless a prism or mirror was used to correct the image. Senator Edward J. Roye, standing along the left side of the room with his hand raised, had been elected to fill the vacancy of the late Hon. G.H. Ellis. Ellis’s death could account for the black mourning cloth draped along the walls of the room.

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Death Before Slavery

In June 1839, African slaves aboard the Spanish ship Amistad, bound for Cuba, seized control of the vessel and attempted to pilot it back to Africa. They were recaptured, however, and charged with murder and piracy. The mutiny grabbed headlines and became a cause célèbre for American abolitionists. Print publishers were quick to capitalize on images of the incident, like this portrait print of Joseph Cinquez. Editors of the New York Sun sent an artist to the prison ship to sketch the leader of the revolt, and issued this portrait, “scooping” competing newspapers. In the ensuing trial former U.S. President and prominent abolitionist John Quincy Adams represented the Africans before the Supreme Court and won their acquittal and return transport to Africa.

[James or Isaac Sheffield]. Joseph Cinquez, The brave Congolese Chief. . . New York: Moses Y. Beach. Lithograph, 1839. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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The Seneca Falls Convention

In July 1848 more than 300 men and women assembled in Seneca Falls, New York, for the nation’s first women’s rights convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton documented the historic 1848 meeting by compiling this scrapbook of contemporary newspaper clippings. Years later Stanton’s daughter Harriot enhanced the scrapbook with several additions, including this photograph of a clipping depicting her mother in the controversial bloomer outfit. Stanton’s cousin Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced the outfit and editor Amelia Bloomer publicized its healthful and liberating benefits in her newspaper The Lily.

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  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), Our roll of honor, signatures to the “Declaration of Sentiments” Set Forth by the First Woman’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, July 19–20, 1848. With emendations by her daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856–1940). Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

  • Advertisement with handwritten comments. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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    National Reformer, August 31, 1848. Manuscript Division

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“O Let My People Go”

Many pre-1861 accounts of southern life mention African American spirituals in passing, but it was not until the Civil War that texts and music of actual songs began to be published. “O Let My People Go” is one of the very first spirituals to be published with both words and music. As the cover says, it was collected from the “contrabands”—fugitives from slavery—at Fort Monroe, a fort in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia that remained in Union hands throughout the war. The text is close to the standard text of “Go Down, Moses” although it has many more verses than the standard version, but the tune differs.

Thomas Baker (active 1853–1862), arranger. The Song of the Contrabands: “O Let My People Go.” New York: Horace Waters, 1861. Music Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit, 1861

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Women’s Suffrage Music

Like other social causes, the suffrage movement provided inspiration to a number of song writers, both women and men. While the vast majority of the songs they wrote promoted suffrage, anti-suffrage songs were not unusual. Most of the suffrage songs from the collections of the Music Division date from the decade preceding the ratification of the nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The collections also contain some of the earliest examples of women’s suffrage music dating from the 1860s.

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  • C. W. Custer. “Wifey is a Real Suffragette.” Chicago: Delmar Music Company, 1919. Music Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit

  • Frank Howard. “We’ll Show You When We Come to Vote.” Toledo: W.W. Whitney’s Palace of Music, 1897. Music Division, Library of Congress

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The North Star

Many periodicals published before the Civil War were characteristically short-lived and chiefly devoted to the abolition of slavery. An exception was Frederick Douglass’s North Star, founded in Rochester, New York, in 1847. The North Star’s slogan, “Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren,” testifies to the broad scope of the newspaper’s coverage, including not only emancipation but also women’s suffrage and education. In 1851, the paper was renamed Frederick Douglass’s Paper and continued for another ten years until Douglass (1817?–1895) was forced to close the paper for financial reasons.

The North Star. (Rochester, New York). April 7, 1849. Page 2. Newspaper. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (99.2)

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Abolition of Slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States, passed the House of Representatives after easy passage in the Senate on January 31, 1865. On February 1, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. This unusual engrossed copy of the resolution on vellum is signed by Lincoln as well as the authenticating officers of Congress and the senators and representatives who voted for its passage.

Resolution, 38th Congress of the U.S. submitted to the Legislatures of the Several States a proposition to amend the Constitution, signed Feb. 1, 1865 by Abraham Lincoln, signed in the Senate, April 8, 1864, signed in the House of Representatives, January 31, 1865. Holograph document, February 1, 1865. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Robert Todd Lincoln, 1923 (100)

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Lucretia Mott

Quaker abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Lucretia Mott, was present at the founding of William Lloyd Garrison’s American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) in 1833. Told the Society would not accept women as members, Mott helped found the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. When the AASS began to incorporate women as well as men, Mott became a leader in the organization. She later presided over the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention of 1848.

A Group of Philadelphia Abolitionists with Lucretia Mott [seated second from the right]. Philadelphia: F. Gutekunst. Offset lithograph, ca. 1840s. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1938 (97A.8)

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The Woman’s Bible

Suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton participated in a variety of reform initiatives during her lifetime. She actively supported many women’s issues including, promoting women’s health, more liberal divorce laws, and stronger women’s property laws. Stanton’s controversial views on religion culminated in 1895 with her publication of The Woman’s Bible. Assisted by a committee of academic and church women, Stanton drafted commentary on selections of biblical text. Although never a major work of church scholarship, it was a best-seller, much to the dismay of many suffragists.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902). “The Woman’s Bible,” commentary on Genesis 2: 21–25. Draft holograph manuscript. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Harriot Stanton Blatch, 1927 (97A.9)

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Suffrage Scrapbook

This is one of eight scrapbooks kept by suffragist Elizabeth Smith Miller of Geneva, New York, and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller between 1897 and 1911. Elizabeth Miller was the daughter of the abolitionist Gerrit Smith and a cousin of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She used $2,500 she raised from selling homemade marmalade for college loans for women. The Millers organized the Geneva Political Equality Club and represented it at national suffrage conventions and parades.

Elizabeth Smith Miller (1882–1911). Scrapbook, 1910–11. Page 2. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1938 (97D.9, 97D.10)

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A Colored Woman in a White World

Mary Church Terrell was born on the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee, during the Civil War. Well-educated, schooled in foreign languages, Terrell traveled widely and was much in demand as a speaker, lecturer, and writer. She was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and the first African-American female member of the District of Columbia Board of Education. Criticized by some for her “upper-class ways,” Terrell was a vocal critic of lynching and a strong proponent of woman suffrage. Terrell led picket lines to desegregate DC restaurants and lunch rooms in the 1950s. Her autobiography A Colored Woman in the White World, published in 1940, details her remarkable life.

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954). Draft pages for A Colored Woman in the White World. Page 2. Typescript pages. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of Mary Church Terrell (96.3a,b)

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A 1791 Anti-Slavery Sermon

Connecticut theologian Jonathan Edwards, born 1745, echoes Anthony Benezet’s use of the “golden rule”—whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them—as well as the natural rights arguments of the Revolutionary era to justify the abolition of slavery. In this printed version of his 1791 sermon to a local anti-slavery group, he notes the progress toward abolition in the North and predicts that through vigilant efforts slavery would be extinguished in the next fifty years.

Jonathan Edwards, D.D. (1745–1801). The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade and of the Slavery of Africans . . . A Sermon. New Haven, Connecticut: Thomas and Samuel Green, 1791. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (96A)

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Fugitive Slave Anthony Burns

This is a portrait of fugitive slave Anthony Burns (ca.1830–1862), whose arrest and trial in Boston under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 incited riots and protests by white and black abolitionists and citizens of Boston in the spring of 1854. The portrait is surrounded by scenes from his life, including his sale on the auction block, escape from Richmond, Virginia, capture and imprisonment in Boston, and his return to a vessel to transport him to the South. Within a year after his capture, abolitionists were able to raise enough money to purchase Burns’s freedom.

Anthony Burns. Boston: R. M. Edwards, 1855. Wood engraving with letterpress. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit, 1855 (100A)

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Satirizing Anti-Suffragists

In this cartoon, caricaturist Ralph Barton depicts an anti-suffragist pushing aside her ballot in favor of playing cards, while her fellow upper-class revelers prefer dancing and socializing to voting. Only one woman has taken the time to cast her ballot. This cartoon appeared in the journal Puck’s woman suffrage issue, “under the editorial direction of a committee of the leading suffragists in America.” Puck continued to support equal suffrage and satirize its opponents in subsequent issues. The journal ceased publication in 1918, two years before suffrage for women was won.

Ralph Barton (1891–1931). “Making the Polls Attractive to Anti-Suffragists” in Puck. (New York: February 20, 1915). Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Copyright deposit, 1915 (97A.11) LC-USZC2-1208

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The Child’s Anti-Slavery Book

This mid nineteenth-century, abolitionist tract, distributed by the Sunday School Union, uses actual life stories about slave children separated from their parents or mistreated by their masters to appeal to the sympathies of free children. Vivid illustrations help to reinforce the message that black children should have the same rights as white children, and that holding humans as property is “a sin against God.”

The Child’s Anti-Slavery Book: Containing a Few Words about American Slave Children. . . . New York: Carlton and Porter, 1859. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (98A)

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The Anti-Slavery Convention

In 1833, sixty abolitionist leaders from ten states met in Philadelphia to create a national organization to bring about immediate emancipation of all slaves. The American Anti-slavery Society elected officers and adopted a constitution and declaration. Drafted by William Lloyd Garrison, the declaration pledged its members to work for emancipation through non-violent actions of “moral suasion,” or “the overthrow of prejudice by the power of love.” The society encouraged public lectures, publications, civil disobedience, and the boycott of cotton and other slave-manufactured products.

Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention. Philadelphia: December 4, 1833. Broadside. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (99.3)

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A Degree in Medicine

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) completed her medical education at central New York’s Geneva College, the only school to have accepted her application, despite the fact that she had studied medicine privately for four years. She was the first woman to obtain a medical degree in the U.S. This anonymous essay, highlighting the careers of various pioneering women, states that by the time the Blackwell died “there were more than 7,000 women physicians and surgeons” practicing in the United States.

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  • Anonymous.“Some Famous Women” [essay on Elizabeth Blackwell]. Page 2. Ink on paper, n.d. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1960–1961 (104A.1)

  • Sketch of Elizabeth Blackwell, ca. 1850s. Offset lithograph. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1960–1961 (107.4)

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Selling Suffrage West to East

Celebrating the arrival of the Envoys of Women Voters was a central feature of the first national convention of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage held in Washington, D.C., December 6–13, 1915. Building on suffrage victories in referendums in eight western states between 1910 and 1914, the Congressional Union encouraged women voters to use their power to influence elections and legislative reform. The envoys delivered a petition to Congress urging passage of the Federal Suffrage Amendment with half a million signatures collected by the Congressional Union, which helped secure President Wilson’s support.

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Education

With All Deliberate Speed

The deliberations of the Supreme Court in its landmark case of 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which found school segregation to be unconstitutional, are well documented in the Library’s manuscript collections.

After the Brown opinion was announced, the Court heard additional arguments during the following term on the decree implementing the ruling. While the NAACP lawyers had proposed to use the word “forthwith” to achieve an accelerated desegregation timetable, Chief Justice Earl Warren adopted Justice Felix Frankfurter’s suggestion to use a phrase associated with the revered Oliver Wendell Holmes, “with all deliberate speed.” Shortly after Warren retired from the Court he acknowledged that “all deliberate speed” was chosen as a benchmark because “there were so many blocks preventing an immediate solution of the thing in reality that the best we could look for would be a progression of action.”

It became clear over time that critics of desegregation were using the doctrine to delay compliance with Brown, and in 1964 Justice Hugo Black declared in a desegregation opinion that “the time for mere ‘deliberate speed’ has run out.” This draft decree with Frankfurter’s own changes in pencil, along with related unique documents in the Frankfurter and Warren papers, has helped scholars analyze the evolution of the Brown case.

Felix Frankfurter (1882–1965). Annotated draft decree regarding Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, April 8, 1955. Page 2. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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Civil Rights

Danny Lyon was the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a national group of college students who joined together after the first sit-in by four African American college students at a North Carolina lunch counter. From 1963 to 1964, Lyon traveled the South and Mid-Atlantic regions capturing telling moments like these. These photographs are part of a limited edition portfolio that Lyon produced to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the civil rights struggle.

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The Scottsboro Nine

On March 25, 1931, nine African-American males were arrested and charged with the rape of two white women. Within twelve days, all of the men were tried and convicted in a Scottsboro, Alabama Court House. Due to the courageous writings of some newspaper editors and other famous writers, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a second trial on the grounds that the men had not received adequate legal counsel in a capital case. The Communist Party moved aggressively to defend the men by hiring Samuel Liebowitz as their legal counsel. One of the plaintiffs, Ruby Bates, admitted during the second trial that the story was fabricated and that no crime had been committed, but the men were again found guilty. Subsequently, there were successful appeals and reconvictions. Although justice was never rendered, all of the Scottsboro defendants eventually found their way out of Alabama. The New York Times continually gave the Scottsboro Case more ample coverage than any newspaper in the North.

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Freedom Riders

The Freedom Riders of the early 1960s, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) rode through the South seeking to integrate the bus, rail and airport terminals. This Associated Press release includes a map and a descriptive text that illustrates the routes taken and the history behind the freedom rides. Together, the map and text record the individual cities visited, when and where violence occurred, and how many people were arrested.

Background Map: 1961 Freedom Rides. [New York]: Associated Press News feature. Page 2. Printed map and text, ca. 1962. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (84.6)

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Cherokee Newspaper

The Cherokee Phoenix was the first Native American tribal newspaper to be published in North America. Its editor, Elias Boudinott, along with tribal leaders of the Cherokee Nation intended to reach two different audiences: Cherokee nationals and white sympathizers who supported Cherokee autonomy. The newspaper, partially in English and Cherokee, uses the eighty-six-character syllabary devised by Sequoyah in 1821. This June 18, 1828 issue included the first census of the Cherokee Nation.

Cherokee Phoenix. New Echota, Georgia, June 18, 1828. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress (92A.6)

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I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free

This manuscript is a holograph score for strings of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free” composed by jazz pianist and educator Dr. Billy Taylor. Although penned in 1954, the piece did not enjoy popularity until the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and throughout the decade of the 1960s. The title expresses one of the fundamental themes of the Movement: the wish to live free in America with dignity. A vocal rendition sung by Nina Simone brought attention to the piece, during her 1967 RCA Records album release of Silk and Soul. Seated at upright piano, Dr. Taylor is surrounded by fellow musicians in what appears to be a rehearsal session during the early 50s.

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  • Billy Taylor (musicians not credited). Gelatin silver print, ca. 1950-54. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift, 19 (107A)

  • Billy Taylor (b.1921). “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” Page 2. Holograph manuscript, 1954. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift, 19 (107C)

  • Nina Simone (b. 1933). “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” 45 rpm. RCA Victor Recording, 1976. Music Division, Library of Congress. Gift, 19 (107B)

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Cartoonist Bill Mauldin

Following World War II, Bill Mauldin (1921–2003), one of America’s great editorial cartoonists, tirelessly championed civil and human rights in many superbly drawn cartoons that ranged from gently humorous to sardonic and biting. After cartooning for United Feature Syndicate, the short-lived New York Star, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in 1962, Mauldin moved to the Chicago Sun-Times, from which he retired in 1992.

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  • Bill Mauldin (1921–2003). “By th’way, what’s that big word?,” 1962. Ink, crayon, and opaque white over graphite under-drawing on layered paper. Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 15, 1962. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the artist (82.6b) Shown online with permission of the artist’s estate

  • Bill Mauldin (1921–2003). “It’s for you,” 1948. Ink over graphite under-drawing on paper. Published in the New York Star, October 1, 1948. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Gift of the artist (82.6a) Shown online with permission of the artist’s estate

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The Supreme Court

A Matter of Conscience

“I do not salute the flag because I have promised to do the will of God,” wrote ten-year-old Billy Gobitas to the board of the Minersville (Pennsylvania) School District in 1935. His refusal, and that of his sister Lillian (age twelve), touched off one of several constitutional legal cases delineating the tension between the authority of the state to require respect for national symbols and the right of individuals to freedom of speech.

The Gobitas children attended a public school, which, as did most public schools at that time, required students to salute and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States. The Gobitas children were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a church that in 1935 concluded that the ceremonial saluting of a national flag was a form of idolatry, a violation of the commandment in Exodus 20:4–6 that “thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor bow down to them....” and forbidden as well by John 5:21 and Matthew 22:21.

On October 22, 1935, Billy Gobitas acted on this belief and refused to participate in the daily flag-and-pledge ceremony. The next day Lillian Gobitas did the same. In this letter Billy Gobitas in his own hand explained his reasons to the school board. On November 6, 1935, the directors of the Minersville School District voted to expel the two for insubordination.

The Watchtower Society of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sued on behalf of the children. The decisions of the U.S. district court and court of appeals were in favor of the children. But in 1940 the U.S. Supreme Court by an eight to one vote reversed these lower court decisions and ruled that the government had inherent authority to compel respect for the flag as a central symbol of national unity. Minersville School District v. Gobitis (a printer’s error has enshrined a misspelling of the Gobitas name in constitutional case law) was not, however, the last legal word on the subject.

In 1943 the Supreme Court by a six to three vote in the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette reconsidered its decision in Gobitis and held that the right of free speech guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution denies the government the authority to compel the saluting of the American flag or the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Billy (William H.) Gobitas (1925–1989) to School Directors, Minersville, Pennsylvania. Handwritten letter, November 5, 1935. Page 2. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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A Pillar of Justice

Long before President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed him the first African-American Supreme Court justice in 1967, Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) had established himself as the nation’s leading legal civil rights advocate. After receiving his law degree from Howard University in 1933, he joined the legal staff of the NAACP about 1936, and between 1940 and 1961 served as head of the organization’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which he created.

In 1954, Marshall achieved national recognition for his work on Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled public school segregation unconstitutional. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, and four years later President Johnson named him solicitor general of the United States.

In 1967 he joined the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren. For twenty-five years, until his retirement in 1991, Marshall led the legal fight to end racial discrimination in America. The Library holds a significant collection of his personal papers, both in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Collection, and the Thurgood Marshall Papers.

Editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad (b. 1924) created this poignant tribute to Marshall upon Marshall’s death in 1993. Creator of drawings notable for their potent political message, strong graphic style, spare compositions, and conceptual clarity, Conrad began his professional career in 1950 as an editorial cartoonist at the Denver Post. In 1964 he went to work for the Los Angeles Times, where he served as chief editorial cartoonist until 1993. Conrad won Pulitzer Prizes in 1964, 1971, and 1984.

Paul Conrad (b. 1924). Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993). Copyright Los Angeles Times. Ink on paper, 1993. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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Miranda Rights

Miranda v. Arizona (1966) was one of Chief Justice Earl Warren’s (1891–1974) best-known opinions. Warren’s handwritten notes contain his initial considerations about the decision that required police to warn an arrested suspect that the government could use any information provided as evidence and that the suspect had a right to remain silent and the right to counsel. Warren sent his notes to Justice William E. Brennan, Jr., for comment. Brennan’s response advocated more flexibility and a far greater role for Congress and the States. Warren incorporated many important elements suggested by Brennan before he circulated the opinion to the other justices.

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  • Earl Warren. Warren’s handwritten notes concerning the Miranda decision. Miranda v. Arizona. Preliminary notes, 1966. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

  • William E. Brennan, Jr. to Earl Warren. Justice Brennan’s comments on the Miranda decision. Memorandum, May 11, 1966. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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Cherokee Nation Denied Foreign Nation Status

In the landmark case, The Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1831 that the Cherokee Indian Nation was not a foreign nation and therefore ruled that the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction. The result was that the Cherokee Nation’s land cessions were allowed to stand, and they were denied the right to sue in federal court to prevent their removal from tribal lands. Associate Justice Smith Thompson wrote a dissenting opinion upholding the claims of the Cherokee Nation. This manuscript is Justice Thompson’s retained copy of his dissenting opinion.

Smith Thompson (1768–1843). Holograph manuscript, 1831. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Acquired by gift and purchase, 1913

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First Justices of The Court

George Washington nominated John Jay of New York as the first chief justice and named five other men as associate justices of the newly established U.S. Supreme Court. President Washington tried to maintain a geographical and economic balance to the Supreme Court based respectively on division of northern, middle, and southern states and commercial and agricultural interests. In making these appointments, Washington also considered experience in public affairs and attachment to the new federal Constitution. Washington’s letter also nominates federal district judges, attorneys, and marshalls.

George Washington (1732–1799) to the U.S. Senate. Letterbook copy in a clerical hand, September 24, 1789. Page 2. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. State Department transfer, 1909 (108.2)

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