America on the Eve of the Civil War

Last month at the University of Richmond, historians gathered for what looks like a terrific conference.  From the website:

The first in a series of annual Signature Conferences sponsored by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission was held on Wednesday, April 29. Dr. Edward L. Ayers, President of the University of Richmond, brought together many of the finest Civil War historians in the country for an unscripted, open dialogue about the United States in 1859. What was happening two years before the firing of the first shots in the nation’s deadliest conflict? What did people know and what were they thinking?

“America on the Eve of the Civil War” presents a fresh perspective on enduring issues. Conducted in an interactive format like news shows, renowned historians discuss events of 1859 and their effect, limiting themselves only to what would have been known at that time. The four sessions included:

  • Taking Stock of the Nation in 1859
  • The Future of Virginia and the South
  • Making Sense of John Brown’s Raid and
  • Predictions for the Election of 1860
  • Webcasts are posted here; an article about the program by David Blight appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education and is posted here.

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