In 1861, Americans fought a Civil War over the question of slavery. Two of the first men to die in the war were Lowell citizens: Luther Ladd and Addison Whitney. Their bodies are interred in front of Lowell City Hall. Black Lowellians also rushed to the aid of their country. Men like William Allen (17 years old) and John Adams (23 years old) joined the Navy, and Cassius Alexander (18 years old) and Sherrod Barber (20 years old) joined the Army. In total, over 198,000 Black men fought for the Union during the Civil War.
The passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution officially ended slavery. But the end of the Civil War was not the end of white supremacy. African Americans still faced racism, violence, and unequal treatment. Many former enslaved people were forced into a life of sharecropping, where they would rent plots on land and pay for it with a portion of their crops each growing season. After the Civil War textile cities like Lowell depended on the cotton grown by sharecroppers. Even when factories began to open in the South, African Americans were barred from working everything but the most menial jobs in the factory.
How can we all strive for a more just world? What changes would you like to see? We thank you for taking this tour and hope you will continue to reflect, share, and work to be the change you want to see in the world.
Interested in learning more about Black history at America's Naitonal Parks? Visit these special NPS subject sites to explore stories from around the country: