The Great American Documents series, written by the graphic-book author Ruth Ashby and illustrated by the renowned Ernie Colón, tells the history of America through the major speeches, laws, proclamations, court decisions, and essays that shaped it.
The second volume begins where the first left off. Uncle Sam returns to take us through numerous major documents, ranging from the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico in 1836 to Jacob Riis’s seminal exposé of slum life in New York City, How the Other Half Lives, published in 1900. Each document gets its own chapter, in which Uncle Sam explains not only its key passages but its origins, how it came to be written, and its impact. In the chapter “The Compromise of 1850” we learn how westward expansion forced the federal government to confront the expansion of slavery. “The Emancipation Proclamation” places Abraham Lincoln’s famous decree within the context of the ongoing Civil War. And “The Chinese Exclusion Act” depicts the unique discrimination faced by Chinese immigrants and shows how that 1882 law presaged the restrictive policies and quotas established in the early twentieth century.
As Ashby shows, the growth and expansion of the United States through the nineteenth century forced the nation to reckon with and confront many of its original injustices, plunging the country into the Civil War and emerging into new challenges as it rose to become a world power. A handy and elegantly concise guide, this masterfully illustrated volume is the perfect book for students of American history, young and old.