Reconstruction of the South

Reconstruction of the South

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This post-war print depicts an allegorical vision of change that could accompany Reconstruction. At the left, Union soldiers are shown beating swords and weapons into farming implements. On the right, a general holds a pickaxe and stands next to a cannon that has been converted into a mill. American-British philanthropist George Peabody, stands at the center of the print, in front of an American flag held aloft by an eagle. He holds open a book that reads, “2,000,000 for Education,” referring to the Peabody Education Fund, which he established to raise the standard of education in the South for those of all races. Beneath him are gathered a group of young white children. One girl looks at a group of four freed slaves, holding a poster that says, “Come Uncle / Learn to Be a Citizen.” In the background, a crowd of 300,000 mechanics, farmers, and laborers carry tools that they will use to facilitate the “Reconstruction of the Union.” On the right, a sailor prepares to sink a barrel labeled, “Extremes,” into the sea. This idealized vision of Reconstruction is one led by the North, which will feature educational and economic development throughout the country, but will be absent of any radicalism. While women's charities had long funded children's orphanages and schooling, George Peabody is considered the "Father of Modern Philanthropy" and his generosity inspired other wealthy individuals to gifting and developing lasting charitable trusts for social causes, particularly in the field of education.
The artist of this print was Augustus Tholey, a German immigrant born in Alsace-Loraine. He moved to Philadelphia in 1848, where he worked as a painter, pastel artist, engraver, and lithographer. It was published by John Smith, who was active in Philadelphia between 1860 and 1870. Besides publishing prints by Tholey and Anton Hohenstein, Smith was also an accomplished gilder, painter, and looking glass and frame manufacturer.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Peabody, George
Smith, John
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 18 1/4 in x 25 7/8 in; 46.355 cm x 65.7225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Chronology: 1850-1859
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Uniforms, Military
Reform Movements
Civil War
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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