4) Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877
Searching on Civil War yields several texts that afford views of wartime through personal perspectives. For example, Crusader and Feminist; Letters of Jane Grey Swisshelm: 1858-1865 offers the following firsthand description of Washington, D.C., after Lincoln's assassination:
It is sickening to pass the White House and adjacent Departments so recently all gorgeous with flags and all manner of festive devices blazing with many colored lights, and reverberating with triumphant music, and witness the change to the sable emblems of woe. It is sadder than these outside changes in other cities, for just behind that draped wall lies the mangled body of our sainted, martyred President, and this visible presence adds greatly to the sorrow and gloom . . . Then the presence of the thousands of Freed-people who regarded Abraham Lincoln as their Moses, adds to the impressiveness of the scene. With tears and lamentations they lean their faces against the iron fence around the Presidential Mansion, and groan with a feeling akin to despair lest now, that their friend is gone, they shall be returned to their old masters . . . One poor black woman . . . exclaimed: "My good President! My good President! I would rather have died myself! I would rather have given the babe from my bosom! Oh, Jesus! Oh, Jesus!"
These and other interesting letters will captivate readers. They also offer insight into the minds of people during the Civil War era.
Searching on Lincoln and funeral across all American Memory collections brings up numerous artifacts that also testify to the impact of this event, including the photograph to the left. Direct your attention to the people standing on rooftops and the cart-drawn casket in the upper right-hand corner. Other artifacts include sheet music of several funeral marches for the President, and a broadside announcing a reward for the apprehension of Lincoln's assassin.
Searching on slavery in Pioneering the Upper Midwest, ca. 1820-1910 locates texts such as the Narrative of Sojourner Truth, while reports of Civil War volunteers from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota can be found in the indexes to the collections of each state's historical society. For example, an account of the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac is included in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.
The collection also includes several accounts of the Dakota Uprising that took place during the Civil War. Search on Sioux Uprising for accounts such as that of Chief Gabriel Renville, a scout serving with General Sibley's Expedition.