- ›› Eras and Sub-Eras : African Americans and Emancipation
Why Documents Matter: An Interactive Digital Edition is a selection of primary sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection curated and annotated for K–12 classrooms.
Explore a print celebrating the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870.
For more than 225 years the principle of freedom and our understanding of its implications have evolved dramatically. The selections from this exhibition invite you to read the words and see the images of the men and women who forged this nation. Their words and images provide insights into the complexity of the past. James G. Basker, the president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, guides viewers through this exploration of the evolution of liberty in the United States.
These excerpts were chosen from more than 215 selections by 158 authors in the anthology.
On October 16, 1859, John Brown and a band of followers, black and white, attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The raid was part of a larger plan to destroy the slave system by freeing and arming slaves. The raiders were captured and John Brown was executed on December 2, 1859. The unique documents discussed here examine John Brown’s beliefs and actions in the context of growing national divisions over slavery in the 1850s.