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Ulysses S. Grant & the Battle to Save Reconstruction

(Webinar) Thurs., November 16, 2023, from 12 pm to 1 pm ET

Join us on Thursday, November 16th, for a webinar featuring award-winning author and historian Fergus M. Bordewich, where we'll explore his latest book, "KLAN WAR: Ulysses S. Grant and the Battle to Save Reconstruction."

In this compelling historical account, we learn about the first national anti-terrorism campaign waged on American soil. Bordewich challenges the traditional perception of Ulysses S. Grant as a weak president. Instead, he portrays him as a powerful advocate for civil rights who used the federal government's power to combat the Klan's violent campaign against newly liberated Black Americans and their allies.

Buy the Book!

This book takes us to the front lines, detailing events in the former Confederate States and the political battles within Congress. It highlights the efforts of grassroots Black leaders and key figures, such as Senator Carl Schurz, who sacrificed the rights of Black Americans in the name of political "reform," and Nathan Bedford Forrest, a ruthless former slave trader and Klan leader.

We'll take a closer look at a critical period after the Civil War when the Ku Klux Klan, which Bordewich defines as "the first organized terrorist movement in American history," emerged as a major threat, and their violent efforts to obstruct progress during Reconstruction.

Additionally, our discussion aims to shed light on the ongoing struggle to protect civil rights and the need for continued efforts to combat hate groups and white supremacist ideologies.

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Fergus M. Bordewich is the author of nine non-fiction books, including "CONGRESS AT WAR," "The First Congress," "Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America,"

and "America's Great Debate." Bordewich has also authored an illustrated children's book and wrote the script for a PBS documentary about Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Jefferson's University.

Bordewich has been an independent historian and writer since the early 1970s. In 2015, he served as chairman of the awards committee for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, given by the Gilder-Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, at Yale University. He is a frequent public speaker at universities and other forums, as well as on radio and television. His articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,  Smithsonian, American Heritage, Atlantic, Harper's, New York Magazine, GEO, Reader's Digest, and others. 

He has received numerous awards and recognition for his work and is known for his deep interest in American history and race and political power issues. Bordewich holds degrees from the City College of New York and Columbia University and has had an extensive career, including work as a journalist, editor, and advisor in various parts of the world.

Extending the Right to Vote:

The 15th Amendment's Enduring Impact on Voting Rights


Wednesday, November 29, 2023, from 12 pm to 1 pm ET

Join us for an insightful webinar featuring Dr. Terry Anne Scott, an award-winning historian, author, and influential speaker. We'll continue our series on the U.S. Constitution to explore the profound impact and enduring legacy of the 15th Amendment. Ratified in 1870 as the last of the Reconstruction Amendments, the 15th Amendment prohibits the denial of a citizen's right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Despite its ratification, state laws, literacy tests, poll taxes, the "grandfather clause," and voter intimidation continued to prevent African Americans from exercising their voting rights. Dr. Scott will explain why this amendment was crucial in the fight for equality and how it addressed but did not fully resolve the barriers to voting in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Don't miss this opportunity to learn why the 15th Amendment was necessary to solidify voting rights for all and how it remains relevant in today’s fight for a fair and inclusive democracy.

Register Here!

Dr. Terry Anne Scott is the Director of the Institute for Common Power. She is a former associate professor of American history and Chair of the History Department at Hood College. Her research interests focus largely on urban history, the intersection of sports and race, African American social and cultural history, and political and social movements. 

Dr. Scott is the author of several books, including Lynching and Leisure: Race and the Transformation of Mob Violence in Texas (winner of the 2022 Ottis Lock Endowment Best Book Award) and the forthcoming From Bed-Stuy to the Hall of Fame: The Unexpected Life of Lenny Wilkens. She is also the editor of Seattle Sports: Play, Identity, and Pursuit in the Emerald City and the forthcoming anthology Reclaiming Democracy: A History of Voter Suppression and a Handbook for Voting Justice. Additionally, Dr. Scott is an associate editor of the Journal of Sports History.

Dr. Scott believes that an academic’s role should extend beyond the classroom. To this end, she is heavily involved in community service and activism. Since serving as Director of the Institute for Common Power, Dr. Scott has spearheaded several programs, including the Truth and Purpose Learning Experience for Educators, Scholars in Motion, and the Family Voter Registration Drive. Additionally, she is frequently featured on regional and national media programs, including NPR. Dr. Scott is a featured historian in several episodes of the History Channel’s “I Was There. She is also in the critically acclaimed documentary “Lynching Postcards: Token of a Great Day, which received a 2022 NAACP Image Award, a 2022 Peabody nomination, and was short-listed for an Academy Award.

Join Us for GivingTuesday!

As we approach GivingTuesday on November 28, 2023, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society invites you to support our 'We the People' Constitution Program. This educational program is designed to inspire and educate the next generation of voters about the importance of civic participation, the workings of the government, and the historical context of our nation's laws and principles.

Your contribution helps us provide essential teaching resources and activities for first-year civics teachers, ensuring they have the tools they need to effectively educate their students about our government and the Constitution. We offer a free civics education field trip for D.C. students, teacher workshops, an online Civics Education Hubplays about the U.S. Constitutioneducational videos, and scholarly publications.

Empower the Next Generation

Our 'We the People' Constitution Tour is a free civics education field trip that takes D.C. public school students from historically underserved communities and Title I schools to local historical sites in Washington, D.C., to learn about the first three articles of the Constitution. More than 1,400 students participate in this field trip each year, which makes them more likely to vote, write to elected officials, and consider a career in public service. By donating before the end of this month, you ensure that we can include even more students in this unique experience during our current tour season.

Our 'We the People' tour isn't just a sightseeing trip – it's an incredible learning experience that makes history and civic education more accessible and relatable for students. This tour includes stops at the U.S. Capitol, Lafayette Park, the White House Visitors' Center, the George Mason Memorial, the National Archives, and the Supreme Court, providing students with an in-depth understanding of the Constitution's foundation. Experiencing history where it happened allows students to form a deeper connection with the content they learn in the classroom.

Our 'We the People' Constitution Tour has already made a significant impact:

During our last tour season (from October 2022 to March 2023), we served an impressive 1,331 D.C. students, accompanied by 220 teachers, and made significant strides in civic education:

  • Students who said they would vote upon turning 18 increased from 55% before the tour to 67% after the tour.
  • Students who say they will or might run for student government increased from 17% before the tour to 46% after the tour.
  • Students who said they would or might run for public office increased from 42% before the tour to 55% after the tour.
  • Most telling, 86% of teachers on our tour believed it would encourage their students to be more involved in public service.

Why Your Support Matters

We strongly believe that every student, regardless of their background, deserves the opportunity to learn about our nation's history in a meaningful and engaging way. Your contribution at any level will ensure that each student can participate in the tour this school year, free of charge:

  • $25: Provides Constitutions for 50 students, ensuring they have access to this foundational document of our democracy.
  • $85: Covers all expenses for one student to participate in our Constitution Tour.
  • $200: Provides lunch for 25 students during their field trip.
  • $750: Covers the costs of buses and knowledgeable tour guides for one class.
  • $2,975: Your generous support covers all tour expenses for one entire class, making history come alive for the next generation.
  • $75,000: Directly invests in our passionate staff who guarantee the program's continued success.
Donate Online!

Or Mail a check payable to:

U.S. Capitol Historical Society

200 Maryland Avenue, NE

Washington, D.C. 20002

Explore our collection of holiday gifts for your family and friends!

Discover a unique collection of handpicked items that celebrate the rich heritage of the United States, embody the spirit of the season, and make perfect gifts for your loved ones. From patriotic ornaments to Capitol-themed candles, cozy socks, snow globes, games, and puzzles, each item has a unique story to tell. Shop now and spread the joy of the holiday season with a touch of American history!

Shop Here!

New "Portrait in Oversight":

Congress Investigates the Titanic Disaster

The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy, in collaboration with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, is releasing a Portrait in Oversight describing how 1912 hearings by the U.S. Congress into the sinking of the Titanic led to key maritime safety reforms, including the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Ice Patrol led by the U.S. Coast Guard, both of which have been saving lives for nearly 50 years.

“The Titanic investigation demonstrates how Congress can investigate the facts behind a disaster and take action to safeguard the public,” said Jim Townsend, director of the Levin Center. “The new Portrait in Oversight commemorates the bipartisan congressional work that exposed the Titanic’s safety failures and sparked national and international reforms, reminding Congress and the rest of us of what is possible when we work together to counter threats to public safety.”

“Titanic's breathtaking design, gross class disparities, and shocking loss of life still make its sinking feel as relevant today as it did on that tragic night,” said Jane L. Campbell, President and CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. “But perhaps the greatest reason we struggle to accept the loss of those 1,500 souls is because their deaths were one of the great preventable tragedies in history. Congress' special investigation discovered that the Titanic was traveling at high speeds, even while ice warnings were ignored, and that too few lifeboats were on board for the ship's number of passengers. Congress, thus, worked to immediately reform maritime law and institute key precautions to ensure that such a night to remember is never forgotten.”

This portrait is the latest in a series of profiles developed by the Levin Center of notable congressional investigations and key figures in the history of congressional oversight from 1792 to the modern era.

Read More!

Get Involved: Engage with USCHS Programs

Free Civic Education Resources

Empower your students with a deeper understanding of civic rights, responsibilities, and the Constitution. Explore our We the People Hub for free lesson plans, classroom activities, primary source analysis, and a forum to connect with fellow educators. We’re your free source for high-quality civic education!

Check out the Hub!

U.S. Capitol History Tours

The Society offers historian-led tours exclusively as part of our membership program. Discover our Capitol’s vast history as you explore the magnificent building where some of the most pivotal moments in American history took place. Led by our knowledgeable and passionate volunteers, this captivating experience offers an insider’s look at this world-famous building.

Book a Tour Guide!

Support the Society

Supporting our public history and civic education programs has never been easier. Whether you choose to join the Society as a Member or make a tax-deductible donation, your contribution promises a lasting influence. Your contribution helps us continue our mission of providing public history programs to history enthusiasts of all ages, offering free educational tours to DC public school students, and ensuring that our online We The People civic education hub can continue to grow and be accessible for future generations.

Donate Today!

Revisit Our Recent History Webinars

Missed one of our webinars? No worries! Simply head over to our YouTube channel, where we have recordings of each webinar readily available for your enjoyment.

While you can't interact with our expert speakers directly, you can still catch up on all the valuable insights they shared during the webinar. We invite you to join our live webinars for the opportunity to participate in dynamic Q&A sessions with our speakers.

Catch Up on Webinars!

U.S. Capitol Historical Society

Visit: CapitolHistory.org

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Discover the heart of American history with the U.S. Capitol Historical Society! Founded in 1962, our mission is to inspire informed patriotism by educating you about the Capitol and the people who work there. We're your free source for high-quality civic education!

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