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Civil War and Reconstruction at the National Constitution Center

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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On May 9, 2019, the National Constitution Center opened a brand-new exhibit entitled "Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality" which tells the story of what some call America’s “second founding.”  The display is the first in America devoted to exploring the constitutional debates regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction. The new exhibit will be a permanent addition to the Constitution Center.

National Constitution Center - Civil War and Reconstruction

The exhibit follows the story of slavery and freedom for African Americans from the time of the signing of the Constitution of the United States in 1787 to the decline of Reconstruction in the 1870s. Emphasis is placed on the 1860s era, the decade which includes both the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation.  A separate display was created for each of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, denoted with a large corresponding number and an interactive timeline to further understand the creation of each amendment.

National Constitution Center - Uncle Tom's Cabin, Civil War and Reconstruction

Notable exhibits include Dred Scott’s signed petition for freedom, an original copy of "Uncle Tom’s Cabin", plaster casts of Abraham Lincoln’s hands, a playable board game called “Secession” which was produced in Philadelphia in 1862 to promote the Union cause, a ballot box for “colored” people dating to 1867, and a reproduction of a robe used by the original KKK in 1866.

The exhibit concludes with a montage of videos from the 1900s which give a nod to the continued fight for freedom, and includes footage of Marian Anderson singing, the Selma to Montgomery March, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

Insider Information

If you’d like to see this display, as well as explore other historic highlights in the Independence National Historical Park area, consider joining us for The Constitutional Walking Tour.  The Constitutional begins and ends in front of the National Constitution Center, and takes you to all the other famous sites such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall and the Betsy Ross House on a 75 minute journey that provides a primary overview of America's Birthplace.  We also offer custom VIP tours which can include admission to sites such as the National Constitution Center, as well as many other famous sites such as Independence Hall, a United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

National Constitution Center - Civil War and Reconstruction


National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106


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