Civil War Anniversary Events

Carianne Carleo-Evangelist and Christina Parrella

Although the Civil War was one of the most terrible chapters in American history, it was also marked by immense achievements, both on and off the battlefield. Then-new pieces of legislation—most notably the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment—are among the greatest achievements in US history.

The 150th anniversary of the war is being commemorated here in NYC through special exhibitions, lectures and photo installations, many of which will be presented at the New-York Historical Society. For information on those events and many more, read on.

Through February 18
Abolishing Slavery: The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at New-York Historical Society
Although considered one of the most significant accomplishments of his presidency, the Emancipation Proclamation was only one part of Lincoln's efforts to end slavery during the Civil War. Recognizing that only a Constitutional amendment would settle forever the question of slavery, Lincoln pressed both the Senate and the House on the issue, and his efforts came to fruition on January 31, 1865, when the House of Representatives passed the Thirteenth Amendment. This exhibition features an 1864 printing of the Emancipation Proclamation and a congressional copy of the Thirteenth Amendment resolution, both with Lincoln's signature, as well as a selection of rare documents from the museum's Gilder Lehrman Collection.

Through February 18
John Rogers: American Stories at New-York Historical Society
John Rogers' sculpting career spanned the latter half of the 19th century, from the beginning of the Civil War through the Gilded Age. A savvy marketer of his art, he sold more than 80,000 narrative figural groups during this time, his subject matter ranging from Civil War scenes to commentaries on domestic life. This exhibition includes 40 plasters and 19 master bronze pieces alongside items from the New-York Historical Society Library and Print Room, such as mail-order catalogs and ads that reveal how his works were publicized. For more information, visit

February 19
Lincoln, Douglass and the U.S. Colored Troops in Action at New-York Historical Society
Well-known Abraham Lincoln historian Harold Holzer moderates a panel that explores the contributions, sacrifices and challenges of the Union soldiers who were recruited under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation. Speakers include authors David W. Blight, Elizabeth D. Leonard and Mia Bay.

February 19
Dinner with Washington & Lincoln at 92nd Street Y
Food historian Francine Segan hosts a tasting tour that explores the dining traditions during the American Revolution and the Civil War. Learn about and sample historic American dishes that Presidents Washington and Lincoln would have dined on, including buttermilk biscuits, johnnycakes and succotash. Tickets for this event are $40. For more information, visit

Through February 28
Lincoln and New York at Bronx Library Center
This exhibition explores Lincoln's life, political career and connection to New York City and features the widely publicized photo of a beardless Lincoln, captured by photographer Matthew Brady. The iconic portrait, along with original and reproduced images, documents, artifacts and caricatures, are all part of the display. The display also gives visitors insight into New York City's role during the Civil War.

Through March 16
Visualizing Emancipation at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
This show features photographs of free and enslaved men, women and children in the years before and after the Civil War. These photographs, many of which feature black soldiers and workers, examine the quest for emancipation.


March 19
Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man at New-York Historical Society
Authors Walter Stahr (Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man) and Louis P. Masur (Lincoln's Hundred Days) discuss William Henry Seward, Lincoln's close friend and cabinet member. Once the governor of New York, Seward served as secretary of state throughout the Civil War.

March 23
Civil War Draft Riots Walking Tour at New-York Historical Society
Barnet Schecter, author of The Devil's Own Work: The Civil War Draft Riots and the Fight to Reconstruct America, leads a walking tour through locations in the City that are connected to the 1863 Draft Riots, considered the deadliest riot in American history, in which 120 people were killed and 2,000 were injured.

Through March 29
Civil War Era Walking Tour near Battery Park
New York City's only Civil War–era tour showcases the City's changing role during the war—from opponent to crucial financial backer. The tour also discusses Horace Greeley, an abolitionist and publisher of the New York Tribune and Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the pastor who displayed John Brown's chains to his congregation at the Broadway Tabernacle.

April 2–September 2
Photography and the American Civil War at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Most people connect the Civil War with the end of slavery and can even name battles such as Gettysburg and Bull Run. But what's lesser known is the role that photography played in telling the stories of this long and deadly conflict. Photography and the American Civil War features more than 200 of the finest and most poignant depictions of camp scenes, battlefield panoramas, landscape shots and studio portraits from the war.

May 8
Three Days at Gettysburg, Part II at New-York Historical Society
Recognized as a turning point of the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers battled in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1–3, 1863. Both sides suffered extreme casualties. Historians James McPherson, John Marszalek and Harold Holzer will discuss this three-day battle and the role it played in American history.

May 13
The Civil War in 50 Objects at New-York Historical Society
Harold Holzer and Eric Foner discuss the New-York Historical Society's book The Civil War in 50 Objects, the companion volume to a new rotating display at the New-York Historical Society. Objects of note include abolitionist John Brown's pike, a soldier's diary with the pencil still attached and a Confederate Palmetto flag.

May 28–September 3
The Civil War and American Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) and the New York City Draft Riots (July 13–16, 1863), this exhibition explores the impact the Civil War had on American art and artists. Photographs and paintings from artists such as Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson and George N. Barnard are part of the display.

July 15–August 16
The Civil War at Lucille Lortel Theatre
Theatreworks USA presents the stories of ordinary Americans, including a former slave, a slaveholder, a recent immigrant and a girl who becomes a drummer boy, who are caught in the conflict that tore the country apart.


General Grant National Memorial (Grant's Tomb)
Civil War general and the nation's 18th president Ulysses S. Grant is entombed alongside his wife, Julia, in a mausoleum located in Riverside Park. Visitors to the memorial can admire the mosaic murals depicting scenes from Grant's life (including one of Grant and General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, as well as scenes from the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga).

Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place for Union Army generals Henry Slocum, Abram Duryee and Fitz-John Porter as well as more than 4,000 other Civil War veterans. Guided tours and self-guided walking tours are available.