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“The Union is Dissolved!” Broadside
Armed Forces History, Division of History of Technology, National Museum of American History

“The Union is Dissolved!” Broadside

Date: 1860
Catalog #: 32960    Accession #: 69413
Credit: Division of Military History and Diplomacy, National Museum of American History


Charleston Mercury (Printer)

The Charleston Mercury newspaper was one of the most outspoken venues for States’ Rights activists throughout the South.

Dimensions / Weight

Dimensions: 21.66" H x 12.66" W

Physical Description

Printed paper.

Specific History

The Charleston Mercury’s “The Union is Dissolved” broadside was the first Confederate publication as South Carolina was the first state to secede. It went to press 15 minutes after the secession ordinance was passed. The editors commented, “Within a very few minutes after the announcement of the secession vote, our messengers arrived . . . in less than fifteen minutes our Extras, containing the long looked for Ordinance, were being thrown off by fast presses and distributed among the eager multitude that thronged under the great banner of the ‘Southern Confederacy.’ As the brief and expressive words of the ordinance were read from our bulletin by the crowd, cheer after cheer went up in honor of the glorious event.”

General History

Broadsides (single sheets of paper usually printed on one side) served as public announcements or advertisements soon after the beginning of printing. Originally issued primarily by governmental, religious and political bodies, broadsides were later used for advertisements, programs, notices, ballad verses, elegies and comments on contemporary events. During wartime, one common use was for recruitment of soldiers. They were read, handed out or posted in prominent locations and were an inexpensive way to reach a wide audience. They were created for a specific purpose and usually discarded once that purpose was accomplished. Broadsides were an important resource for many disciplines because the images and slogans provided snapshots of the events, ideas and attitudes of their era.

Broadsides are considered “ephemera,” meaning they were produced with no intention of preservation. Most were posted and then discarded when they had served their purpose. That is what makes so many broadsides rare, if not unique.


Country: United States
State: South Carolina
War: Civil War
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