The American Civil War: From Slavery to Segregation


The focus of this course is the Civil War, its important battles, its course from Confederate ascendancy to Union victory, its important participants, and some little-known figures who represent significant events, developments, and passions that animated the combatants.

The war itself is not fully understandable without attention to the seeds of the conflict, which were sown decades before the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861. Students will examine several events and ideas that contributed to the outbreak of the war, including the bitter debate about slavery, territorial expansion in the West and how settlers chose to organize the soon-to-be-states (slave versus free), the invention of the cotton gin and the subsequent booming textile mills in New England, and the unraveling of the Republic during the 1850s.

A number of individuals will be highlighted, many of whom are well-known—Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Frederick Douglass—but also some who are less well-known, such as the Grimke sisters, Abby Kelly, John C. Calhoun, and poets and entertainers popular during the period.

Finally, students will focus on the assassination of President Lincoln, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, the failure of Reconstruction, and the doomed promise of a truly biracial society.

Live Classes: Mondays, 4:00 p.m

Assignments: Assignments will vary by class. Reading materials will include some original documents, as well as short secondary works. In addition, students will write brief papers on topics of their choosing.

Student Support: The instructor will be available via email and also via individual face-to-face online conferences.

Materials: All reading materials will be available on the internet.

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