“Slavery is a state of war,” John Brown told Frederick Douglass in 1847. The regime of violence and terror against African Americans had had its grip on North America for almost 250 years by the dawn of the Civil War. These objects from the National Park Service’s collections shine a light on American slavery in its last days. Their individual stories show how African Americans and their allies mounted counterattacks through outright resistance and cultural survival, art, political activism, and education. They also highlight the interracial activism that connected John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln, and the places where we preserve and debate their memory today.
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Last updated: January 26, 2017