The complicated role that women played in nineteenth-century American culture meant that the case of female crime was more complicated, and that despite the fact that many women were vocal and influential members of reform movements, their counterparts guilty of committing crimes were often left outside of the reformative process. Yet women played a unique role in the breakdown of the systems of control enforced prior to the Civil War, and consequently were responsible for challenging the normative barriers that endeavored to keep them on the margins of public life.Read More
Ok, so Monticello is not a Civil War site, they don’t interpret the Civil War in any way. But the home of Thomas Jefferson does have a connection to the story we strive to tell: slavery. And I was very impressed by the way they shared it.Read More
On January 31, 1865, the United States Congress narrowly passed an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery; that this was accomplished thanks to the American Civil War is undeniable. That destroying slavery became a primary goal of the Civil War, however, was not initially expected. Many northerners were extremely reluctant to abolish the institution. Only through the actions of enslaved men and women, a small group of abolitionists, and the interaction of U.S. soldiers with the brutal institution was the North compelled to focus on slavery. Which begs the question: Could slavery have been abolished without the Civil War?Read More
Dred and Harriet Scott hold hands in front of the St. Louis courthouse where they first sued for their freedom, and look forever through the famous St. Louis Arch. While the arch specifically relates to the Louis and Clark expedition and westward expansion, it also represents for many the American Dream...Read More
In March 1857, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling that sent shock waves through the north. In the Court opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, slaves were not considered citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal Court, but more importantly Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. For free labor/free soil advocates in the north, this was a major step backwards in the efforts to contain the spread of slavery.
Everything centered on one man, a slave named Dred Scott.Read More
At the turn of the 19th century, the United States’ foremost democratic thinkers were not just focused on refining their government. Instead, they looked widely at the nation and its institutions, agonizing over how to best create a respectable, responsible, republican citizenry. Consequently, the 19th century witnessed a myriad of different reform movements aimed at perfecting every aspect of society. As Americans considered what they should and should not keep from the old systems in Europe, their attention fell quickly to what we would term criminal justice. Prior to the Revolution, the colonies utilized punishments that might look familiar to students of Civil War era military discipline – public shaming, branding, corporal punishment. Prisons were little more than overcrowded holding facilities where the guilty of all ages shared an unregulated space. Understandably, reform-minded observers saw this as a den for breeding criminals rather than an institution that would improve the country.Read More