Featured Primary Sources

The Age of Jackson

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

William Barret Travis, “To the Citizens of Texas,” February 24, 1836. (GLC)

A plea to defend the Alamo, 1836

Creator: William Travis Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Andrew Jackson, “To the Cherokee Tribe of Indians East of the Mississippi [circu

Andrew Jackson to the Cherokee Tribe, 1835

Creator: Andrew Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
David Crockett to Charles Schultz, December 25, 1834 (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Davy Crockett on the removal of the Cherokees, 1834

Creator: David Crockett Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Lowell Mill Girls and the factory system, 1840

Creator: Orestes Brownson and "A Factory Girl" Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
Henry W. Smith, “Texas Expects Every Man to Do His Duty,” February [28], 1836 (G

Politics and the Texas Revolution, 1836

Creator: Henry W. Smith Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, June 4, 1825 (Gilder L

Stephen Austin’s contract to bring settlers to Texas, 1825

Creator: Stephen Austin Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Texas Declaration of Independence, March 2, 1836. (GLC02559)

Texas Declaration of Independence, 1836

Creator: Delegates of the People of Texas Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Thomas Glascock to Andrew Jackson, April 30, 1818. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

The massacre of American Indian allies, 1818

Creator: Thomas Glascock and Andrew Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
 President’s Annual Message to Congress, Washington Republican Extra, Dec. 2, 18

The Monroe Doctrine, 1823

Creator: James Monroe Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

Rufus King. Substance of Two Speeches, Delivered in the Senate of the United Sta

A Founding Father on the Missouri Compromise, 1819

Creator: Rufus King Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“A mirror for the intemperate” broadside, Boston, ca. 1830 (Gilder Lehrman C

A Mirror for the Intemperate, ca. 1830

Creator: Henry Bowen Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Aurelia Hale to her sister Sarah, June 11, 1821.  (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A northerner’s view of southern slavery, 1821

Creator: Aurelia Hale Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
[Abstinence pledge card], September 23, 1842 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Abstinence pledge card, 1842

Creator: Mathew Theobald Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833, detail. (GLC)

American Colonization Society membership certificate, 1833

Creator: American Colonization Society Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Horace Greeley to Elizabeth Oakes Smith, March 1, 1851 (Gilder Lehrman Colle

Horace Greeley on a woman’s reform newspaper, 1851

Creator: Horace Greeley Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln, speech fragment concerning the abolition of slavery, ca. July 1

Lincoln on abolition in England and the United States, 1858

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Samuel F. Smith, America (My Country Tis of Thee) August 4, 1886. (Gilder Lehrm

My Country, ’Tis of Thee

Creator: Samuel F. Smith Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Samuel Russell to his mother and sisters, June 10, 1862 (Gilder Lehrman Collecti

On the emigrant trail, 1862

Creator: Samuel Russell Curriculum Subjects: Geography Grade Levels:
“178 Sugar and Cotton Plantation Slaves!” J. A. Beard & May, New Orleans, LA, 18

Slave auction catalog from Louisiana, 1855

Creator: J. A. Beard and May Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln, notes for the “House Divided” speech, December 1857 (Gilder

The “House Divided” Speech, ca. 1857–1858

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Mahala Doyle to John Brown, November 20, 1859. (GLC07590)

“Bleeding Kansas” and the Pottawatomie Massacre, 1856

Creator: Mahala Doyle Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: