Special Report

Civil War Artifacts in the Smithsonian

The museum collections house many items from the Civil War, including photographs, uniforms and personal diaries

Lincoln's Top Hat (National Museum of American History)

“The Constitution Must Be Preserved” Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Textile propaganda
(Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum)

“This textile was printed as propaganda for a political candidate, much in the way you might see posters, T-shirts or bumper stickers today,” says curator Susan Brown. “ ‘The Constitution Must Be Preserved’ was printed in support of John Bell, the Constitutional Union Party’s candidate for president in 1860.” In addition to splitting the Democratic Party into Northern and Southern factions, the 1860 presidential election gave rise to the Constitutional Union Party, which comprised former Whig Party members and discontented Democrats. This short-lived party ultimately won three states in the election: Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, garnering 39 electoral votes. However, Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln netted a whopping 180.

by Jesse Rhodes


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