The Nation’s Ward by Edward Valentine

Collections in the Classroom

Grade Level

High, Middle

Time Period

1866-1870: Reconstruction


The Lost Cause Myth

Resource Type

Engagement Activity, Post-visit material, Pre-visit material, Primary Source

Collections in the Classroom: Edward Valentine's Nations Ward

Download Collections in the Classroom: Edward Valentine’s Nations Ward (pdf)


  • How does this piece’s title, The Nation’s Ward, add to its meaning?
  • What stereotype is this popular sculpture by Edward Valentine using?
  • How did this piece of commercial art help support the Lost Cause narrative?


Edward Valentine created The Nation’s Ward in 1868. A young boy had come to his studio selling coal and Valentine asked him to model for the piece. We do not know if the boy was paid to be the model. The finished piece shows a boy looking up possibly in adoration or gratitude. The title of the piece suggests that this African American boy will not be able to take care of himself and must rely on the country to support him. This false idea that African Americans were unable to support themselves outside of slavery was a core part of the Lost Cause myth.