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A Slave Coffle Passing the Capitol

This late-19th-century illustration depicts a slave coffle passing the U.S. Capitol as it appeared—without a dome—in 1815. In 1862 Congress abolished slavery in Washington, D.C.

Reproduced from A Popular History of the United States, by William Cullen Bryant, 1876-81

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

A Slave Coffle Passing the Capitol

Women Petition Against Slavery

Lacking the right to vote in national elections, women sought to influence Congress through their constitutional right to petition. Congress received hundreds of thousands of petitions from women that addressed all aspects of the antislavery issue, including the slave trade, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, expansion of slavery in the territories, and slavery in the nation’s capital. Many of the petitioners framed their arguments in moral and religious terms.