The issue of slavery permeated debate in Congress from the founding of the country through the mid-nineteenth century. The failure to resolve differences between states on the issue of slavery led to the Civil War. To manage both the war effort and its consequences, Congress crafted new legislation that addressed a changing nation.
For more than two hundred years, the Capitol has been the place where representatives of the American people have debated how best to achieve the nation’s ideals. This exhibit displays some of our most important documents, drawn primarily from the collections of the Library of Congress and the National Archives, to illustrate the role of Congress in defining and helping to realize national goals and aspirations.