Library of American Political History Images

There are numerous online opportunities to view images of infamous political events, valuable historical documents, and images of famous political figures. The Internet has given us the ability to feel as if we are a part of history and assist us in truly understanding the inner workings of the political realm. “We the people” includes each and every one of us, and gives us the right to know as much as possible about our political past, present and future.

Pre 1750

  • Court Book Manuscript Volume 17: Record of the Virginia Company of London, which established the Jamestown colony in 1607.
  • Manhattan Letter: Letter from Peter Schaghen in 1626 to the West India Company announcing the purchase of Manhattan Island for 60 guilders.
  • John Winthrop: Engraving of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1630-1649. 
  • Map of Virginia: From "Generall Historie of Virginia," 1632, in which John Smith claimed rights to the lands held by Powhatan.
  • Maryland Toleration Act, September 21, 1649: A short-lived law making freedom of religion mandatory. 
  • Manhattan 1664: Map depicts Mannados (New Amsterdam) which is now New York.
  • Robert "King" Carter: Paintings and scanned documents from the diary, correspondence and paper of Robert "King" Carter of Virginia. Carter was said to be the most important man of his time in Virginia. 
  • The Plymouth Colony: Maps & Landscape from the Plymouth Colony Archive Project.
  • Salem Witch Trials: "Examination of a Witch in Salem" and selected images.
  • Mayflower Compact: "Signing the Mayflower Compact" by Moran. Image of the painting with a link to the text of the document.

1750-1800

  • Washington Crossing the Delaware: Painting by Emanuel Leutze. It depicts Washington's attack on the Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey on December 25, 1776. 
  • Boston Tea Party Gallery: Collection of images relating to the Boston Tea Party on November 29, 1773.
  • Spirit of '76: Painting and drawings by Achibald Willard depicting the America's Declaration of Independence.
  • Map of Territorial Growth: Map showing original 13 colonies, other British territories and foreign areas in 1775.
  • George Washington Gallery: Collection of images of George Washington, first President of the United States.
  • Charters of Freedom: Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights all together in this collection of image scans of the original documents.
  • Rachel Revere Letter: Letter from Rachel to Paul Revere, written in 1775, tells about her struggle to leave Boston which is under siege.
  • Pennsylvania Gazette: Benjamin Franklin's January 2, 1750, Pennsylvania Gazette.
  • Common Sense: Title page from Thomas Paine's Common Sense.
  • Declaration of Independence: A scan of the first printing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • First Thanksgiving: Handwritten proclamation of public thanksgiving and prayer by George Washington.

1800-1850

  • 1800 Presidential election: Tally of electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73. This tie resulted in the 12th amendment to the Constitution being passed.
  • The Missouri Compromise: Transcript and scanned images of the original document. The Compromise brought Missouri into the Union and at the same time prohibited slavery in certain territories.
  • Map of the Missouri Compromise: This map shows slave states and territories, free states and territories, the Arkansas Territory which was opened to slavery by the Missouri Comprise and territories closed to slavery by the Comprise.
  • Burning of Washington: Depictions of the White House and the Capitol. Public buildings were burnt during the British invasion of Washington in 1818.
  • War of 1812: Images of art relating to the War of 1812.
  • Vaccination Against Small Pox: Image of the political cartoon (upon George Washington's controversial decision to vaccinate the troops) by George Cruikshank, published by S.W. Fores, Piccadilly, June 20, 1808.  
  • Distribution of population 1810: Map showing distribution of U.S. population east of the 100th meridian.
  • Our Army at War: Image Collection that includes paintings of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and Churubusco, Mexico, 1848.
  • Hail to the Chief: Images of sheet music related to the presidency, including "Hail to the Chief" first played to honor a living president, Andrew Jackson, on January 9, 1829.
  • U.S. Capitol: Photograph which is among the earliest taken of the Capitol (1846.)

1850-1900

  • Emancipation Proclamation Collection: First Draft, Final Version, "If Slavery is Not Wrong, Nothing is Wrong" and "The Construction of the Proclamation."
  • Frederick Douglass Portrait: Frontispiece to his book, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself, published 1892.
  • Harper's Weekly Collection: Images of the pages of Harper's Weekly March 2, 1861. This issue is about the opening days of the Civil War.
  • Freedom and Slavery in 1854: Map showing areas of slavery and freedom in the United States in 1854. 
  • The Assault on Senator Sumner: Transcript (with link to original document) of a section from Isaac Bassett's memoirs, Caning of Summer. Two images are included, one from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and one from Harper's Weekly Journal of Civilization.
  • Battle of Gettysburg Memorial Maps: Collection of maps showing the evolution of the Gettysburg memorial site.
  • Philippine-American War: Photos taken during the war from 1899-1902.
  • Alaska Purchase: Scan of the check used to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867, the text of the Treaty of Cession and a scan of the Russian exchange copy of the treaty.
  • 41st Congress: Scanned page from the Senate Record, January 27, 1871.
  • Lincoln Campaign Poster: Poster from 1860 for Abraham Lincoln/Hannibal Hamlin ticket proclaims free speech, free home and free territory.

1900-1950

  • Woman Suffrage Procession: Official Program Cover for women's march on Washington which took place on March 3, 1913.
  • Women's Right to Vote: 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified August 18, 1920. 
  • "The Thinker" by Clifford Berryman: Political cartoon on the Publicity of income tax returns.
  • Civilian Exclusion Order #5: This order issued by Lieutenant General J.L. Dewitt, U.S. Army, was the beginning of the interment of Americans of Japanese descent.
  • Pearl Harbor: Images of the events that took place on December 7, 1941, including the sinking of the USS Arizona.
  • Unifying a Nation: Collection of World War II posters, including "Every Citizen a Soldier", "Patriotism" and "Dollars for Victory" series.
  • Manhattan Project: Image galleries of photos and documents from the Manhattan Project.
  • World War I: Photo Gallery of World War I images, including war in the skies, war at sea and the men in the trenches.
  • Great Depression: A photo essay showing images from the Great Depression, beginning with a picture of the New York Stock Exchange trading floor on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929.

1950-Present

  • Nuclear Tests: Photo collection of tests from 1945 through 1962, mostly post war tests.
  • Korean War Photographs: The Korean War in pictures from the Harry S. Truman archive.
  • The 1957-58 School Year: Desegregation in Little Rock schools with the National Guard.
  • The Death of JFK: Commentary about the events of November 22, 1963 and the days following his assassination. Photos from President John F. Kennedy's arrival in Texas to his burial at Arlington National Cemetery. 
  • Kent State 1969-1970: Photographer Howard Ruffner's gallery of photos taken of Kent State University student Vietnam War protests leading up to the May 4, 1970, when National Guard troops opened fire on protestors.
  • Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial: On the steps of the memorial, Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech" on August 28, 1963.
  • President Nixon: Final days at the White House as President Richard M. Nixon resigns.
  • Clinton Acquitted: Front page of the February 13, 1999, Washington Post headlines "Clinton Acquitted--2 Impeachment Articles Fail to Win Senate Majority."
  • War Begins: Images from the opening day of the Iraq War.
  • Clinton/Obama Debate: Photo of Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama in the final debate of the 2008 democratic presidential primary.
  • Barrack Obama's Inauguration: Slide show of 44 photos of President Obama's historic 2009 inauguration.

 ("Legal information found on this page does not constitute legal advice.")

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