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Tag: National Archives Official Blog

The other 13th Amendment

The year 1861 was a dire one for the United States. In its opening months, five southern states joined South Carolina in seceding from the Union. In the recent 1860 election, the victor Abraham Lincoln hadn’t even appeared on the ballots of a third of the states in the Union. A bloody civil war loomed. In their final hours in office, President Buchanan  and Congress were desperate to preserve the Union, even if it meant preserving the practice of slavery.

On March 2, 1861, two days before leaving office, Buchanan endorsed an amendment to the Constitution that had been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives just weeks before South Carolina seceded. It read:

The following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, where ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz:

Article XII. No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

If three-fourths of the states in the Union signed the amendment, slavery would forever be tolerated by the … [ Read all ]

NARA on Twitter

In honor of our Bill of Rights Twitter Contest, we thought it was high time to review all the tweeting that goes on in the National Archives family. While our tweets may be short, they are many, and so to help you navigate the micro-blogging waters, we’ve put together a short list that describes what our separate Twitter accounts do. So, check out the list below, and follow your favorites!

  1. @ArchivesNews: Designed to be your one-stop-Twitter-shop for all things Archival, the @archivesnews Twitter feed is a hodgepodge of links to historic goodness. Think of @archivesnews as the hub of spokes in a wheel, from here you can connect to the latest Piece of History, Press Release, speech from Archivist Ferriero, document of the day or … background history on Teddy bears?
  2. @FedRegister: Consider this Uncle Sam’s personal Twitter account. Routinely updated, the Federal Register’s Twitter account is a great way to keep tabs on what’s going on in the Federal Government. Want to know what the EPA is doing to keep the air clean?  Look no further. What about the latest documents signed by President Obama? If you need to be in-the-know when you’re on the go, this is a great resource.
  3. @JFKlibrary: It’s no surprise that JFK’s most famous line fits in a Twitter post: “Ask not
  4. [ Read all ]

Join our Bill of Rights Twitter Contest

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Readers, we now live in a brave new world of abbreviation. What was once Kentucky Fried Chicken is now KFC. What was once the Science Fiction Channel is now SyFy. For many people, this sentence makes sense: “IMHO this is NSFW” (for the record, this post is). Even the National Archives hasn’t been spared: sometimes we call it the Natty Arches or the Chives.

In this great condensing of America, one item has been spared, however. The Bill of Rights–that great document that contains the first ten amendments to the Constitution–hasn’t been abridged by a single punctuation mark. Until now.

It’s time the Bill of Rights got a hip new upgrade and we need your help. From today through December 15–the 219th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights–we’re asking you to condense each of those amendments into separate bite-sized tweets.

The rules are simple: on the appropriate day shorten the assigned amendment down to as few words (or letters) as possible while retaining the amendment’s meaning, then Tweet us your response using the hashtag #BillofRights.

There’s no limit to how many times you post, and we promise that there will be no actual abridging of the Bill of Rights–this is just a way to think about one of our most important documents. So tweet your hearts out!

We’ve posted the schedule below, and every day on Facebook … [ Read all ]

FHF: The Civil War story of Ben Hur

When you think of Ben Hur, your mind probably goes to Charlton Heston riding a chariot around (and around) an arena in the 1959 classic. But what you should be thinking of is Union General Lewis Wallace’s impressive goatee.

Lew not only fought in the Civil War, but authored the novel that is one of the best selling in American history. His work knocked Uncle Tom’s Cabin from its top spot, and surpassed Gone With the Wind when Charlton Heston brought it to the big screen.

But where did a Civil War general get the idea for a formative novel about ancient Rome and the story of Jesus? We might have Ulysses S. Grant to thank for that.

In the epic, a tile falls off the roof of the main character’s house when the new governor, Gratus, is passing by. The tile startles the governor’s horses and Gratus is nearly trampled. Because of this accident, Ben Hur’s childhood friend and now military officer, Messala, condemns Ben Hur to the galleys while his wife and sister are imprisoned. In short, an innocent accident destroys Ben Hur’s life and he is betrayed by an old friend.

Lew Wallace was a young general at the decisive Battle of Shiloh and served under General Ulysses S. Grant. During the battle, Grant ordered Wallace to support Sherman’s division. Wallace misinterpreted … [ Read all ]

Thursday’s Photo Caption Contest

Lynn Ansfield, with her short, historically on-the-nose caption took the top honors in the last photo caption contest. Congrats, Lynn, you’ve won 30% off at the National Archives eStore just in time for the holidays!

The Truman Library contains this photo of President Truman receiving a Thanksgiving turkey from members of the Poultry and Egg National Board and other representatives of the turkey industry, outside the White House., 11/16/1949, and many more!

It’s the first week of December, and some parts of the country have already had significant snowfall.  Here’s a photo to get you in the mood for wintry fun. Give us your best, and we’ll give you 30% off your next purchase at the Archives eStore! … [ Read all ]