Document Bank of Virginia

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In October 1859, John Brown and other antislavery men slipped across the border between Maryland and Virginia and occupied the United States arsenal at Harper's Ferry. Brown hoped to arm enslaved men and lead a campaign to abolish slavery. However,…

The Democratic Party split in two in 1860. John C. Breckinridge, vice president of the United States, became the presidential nominee of the faction sometimes referred to as the Southern Democrats. The party advocated the expansion of slavery into…

The importance of slavery in the secession crisis and as a cause of the Civil War was well understood in 1861. Voters in the counties where the enslaved population was greatest elected more supporters of secession to the Virginia Convention than did…

The Southern Illustrated News was printed in Richmond from 1862 to 1865. The cartoon lampoons Lincoln’s revolving door of generals that had faced—and lost to—Southern armies in Virginia. After General Winfield Scott retired at the beginning of…

Enslaved Virginians were often hired out by their owners during the course of their servitude. Industries such as the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and the many iron and woolen mills throughout the state owned very few slaves, preferring instead to…

On February 3, 1865, Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens and two other commissioners met with Abraham Lincoln on the steamer River Queen near Fort Monroe in Hampton in a futile effort to end the war and ensure Southern independence. When…

This document is a parole slip that was given to the Confederate officer Captain James M. Garnett. It is dated April 10, 1865 and noted there is its location, Appomattox Court House, VA. The day prior, April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee…

This document is a petition from Edmund M. Bradford to President Andrew Johnson. In the petition Bradford seeks an official pardon for his role in the Confederate Army. Edmund M. Bradford of Norfolk was a graduate of West Point (1837) who served in…

Cohabitation registers are among the most important genealogical resources for African Americans attempting to connect their family lines back through the oftentimes murky past to their enslaved ancestors. The registers date from 1866 and provide a…

This document is a Presidential pardon issued by President Andrew Johnson. It was signed on July 5, 1866 by both President Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. The year before, President Johnson had issued a proclamation on May 29, 1865,…
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