Breaking News! Headlines, courtesy of 1850’s America

“Objects in history’s mirror are closer than they appear.” – Caroline Randall Williams, Fisk University

‘Emma Zorn Reading’ by Anders Zorn, National Academy Museum and School, New York, NY

Expressions of hostility to democracy, civility, and honesty can be disconcerting. Most Americans are used to taking for granted certain actions, like voting, and, the fact that our elected officials will follow democratic norms. But have we slipped into another era – the 1850’s? Or even, 1860: the last time our citizens and politicians refused to accept a presidential election? The Quakers of Goose Creek Meeting supported, as far as records tell, Abraham Lincoln’s election. They witnessed a slow motion tragedy as, one by one, southern states left the United States rather than accept the 1860 election. How hushed and anxious conversations around the dinner table must have been…then, and now.

Here are some newspaper headlines. When they were written…now or 170 years ago, in the lead up to our nation’s biggest tragedy? Click on the headlines to find out.


“Democratic” Principles

Reign of Blood

Mississippi calls to ‘succeed from the union’

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