A map showing the boundaries of the Missouri Compromise, an agreement passed in 1820 that divided free states and territories from those open to slavery.
John C. Calhoun, U.S. Secretary of State from 1844 to 1845 and South Carolina Senator from 1845 until his death in 1850.
An anti-abolitionist handbill from 1837 declares, "The Union forever!"
Anti-Catholic—or more specifically anti-Irish—riots in Philadelphia, c. 1845.
"The Auction Sale," a black and white illustration featured in an original publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
In 1850, abolitionists published this print entitled "Effects of the Fugitive-Slave-Law." It features six armed whites attacking four blacks. The victims' attire may suggest that they are freedmen.
An early U.S. coin featuring the "liberty cap," a symbol that represented freedmen in ancient Rome and was later adopted by French Revolutionaries. In 1855, U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis objected to the inclusion of the cap in an early design of a sculpture for the federal capitol building.
The head and feathered helmet of the Statue of Freedom designed by sculptor Thomas Crawford in 1855 to stand atop the dome of the United States Capitol.
A view of New York in 1860. In the years leading to the Civil War, the population in the Northeast surged; immigrants crowded into rapidly industrializing city centers.
View of a plantation in Bishopville, South Carolina, 1857. In the years leading to the Civil War, the population in the South grew slowly, and its agricultural economy—based on the slave production of cotton—thrived.
Crops produced by slaves in the American South on the eve of the Civil War.
A presidential campaign poster for Abraham Lincoln and running mate Hannibal Hamlin, 1860.
In a caricature of the 1860 presidential race, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas grip the North and the West while John C. Breckinridge claims the South and John Bell tries in vain to paste the map back together.
In this caricature of the 1860 presidential campaign, Dred Scott plays the violin while the candidates dance: John Breckinridge with James Buchanan, Lincoln with an African-American woman, John Bell with a Native American, and Stephen Douglas with an Englishman in rags, 1860.
Lincoln as "The Comet of 1861," a foreboding illustration from an envelope, 1861.
Slave states (grey) and free soil on the eve of the Civil War, 1861.