The State Museum, State Library and State Archives are temporarily Closed.
An Irrepressible Conflict exhibition graphic

An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War

September 22, 2012 to March 23, 2014
Exhibition Hall

The pivotal role New York State played in the war is the focus of this 7,000-square-foot exhibition. As the wealthiest and most populous state, the Empire State led all others in supplying men, money, and materiel to the causes of unity and freedom. New York’s experience provides significant insight into the reasons why the war was fought and the meaning that the Civil War holds today. An Irrepressible Conflict will be open through September 22, 2013 in Exhibition Hall.

The exhibition includes objects from the collections of the State Museum, Library and Archives, as well as others from institutions across the state. Among the many significant objects are a Lincoln life mask from 1860, the earliest photograph of Frederick Douglass (a rare 8-by-10-inch daguerreotype image, courtesy of the Onondaga Historical Association) and the only known portrait of Dred Scott. Additional support for this exhibition is provided by RBC Wealth Management.

The exhibition’s title was inspired by an 1858 quote from then U.S. Senator William H. Seward, who also served as governor of New York (1839-42) and secretary of state (1861-69). Seward disagreed with those who believed that the prospect of war between the North and South was the work of “fanatical agitators.” He understood that the roots of conflict went far deeper, writing, “It is an irrepressible conflict, between opposing and enduring forces.”