The exhibition pulls the viewer in immediately: the first case shows the first American demographic map (based on the 1860 census), which records the percentage of slaves relative to the population in each slave-holding county. In some counties near the Mason-Dixon line, that percentage was close to zero; in other counties in the Deep South and Texas, it reached nearly 90%. Lincoln evidently spent a great deal of time studying the map, and in a later portrait of him signing the Emancipation Proclamation, a copy of the map can be seen in the background.
Other displays include railroad maps, political cartoons, photographs, and commemorative diagrams--produced by the daily newspapers--of famous battle sites.
For anyone interested in the Civil War, which the exhibition notes is still the most important moment in our nation's history, this jewel of an exhibition is a must-see.
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For more on the Civil War--and New York's role in it--be sure to check out