Visualizing the Union in 1861

Slate’s history blog, the Vault, has come through again with another incredible primary source from our Civil War. You may remember a couple of weeks ago I shared a Civil War board game. For those Americans who had trouble comprehending the relationship between the federal government and the states, along with the overarching importance of the Constitution, Cincinnati lawyer N. Mendal Shafer created the infographic below in 1861. Notice that all of the states are included. The diagram was clearly intended not only as a primer for schoolchildren, but also as an argument for the preservation of the Union.

It’s an incredible find and one that I will definitely have my students analyze when we get to the Civil War. You can click on the image to expand it, which reveals an incredible amount of detail.


About the author: Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What next? Scroll down and join the discussion in the comments section. Looking for more Civil War content? You can follow me on Twitter. Check out my latest book, Searching For Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth, which is the first book-length analysis of the black Confederate myth ever published. Order your copy today.

2 comments… add one
  • Neil Hamilton Oct 30, 2014 @ 23:41


    What an absolutely amazing find!

    Thanks for posting this. Made for a very interesting read.

    Neil Hamilton

  • TF Smith Oct 30, 2014 @ 17:32

    Very interesting find; thanks for the link to the Vault.

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