The Virginia State Capitol is the second oldest working capital in the U. S. (the first is that of Maryland in Annapolis) and has been in continuous use since 1788. The original structure in the center was designed by Thomas Jefferson. The wings were added between 1904-1906. During the war it served to house both the General Assembly and the Confederate Congress. In 1867, Virginia, along with 9 other states, refused to ratify the 14th Amendment. As a result the states were put under military rule; Virginia became Military District No. 1. The states were to remain under military rule until they adopted new constitutions and ratified the 14th and 15th amendments. The U.S. Congress ordered that black men be allowed to vote and run for seats in the constitutional conventions. A new state constitution was adopted in July 1869 and in October the amendments were ratified. Virginia was readmitted to the Union in January of 1870. Eighteen to twenty African Americans won election, to the General Assembly in the elections of 1871, 1873, and 1875, but the hard earned rights of citizenship and voting for black Virginians would soon be eroded.
The mission of The American Civil War Museum is to be the preeminent center for the exploration of the American Civil War and its legacies from multiple perspectives: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians.