Still a House Divided? Civil War Explored in History Lecture Series

Between 1861 and 1865, the United States faced its ultimate test of survival--the Civil War. During those nightmarish years, crucial issues were at stake--the fate of the Union, the definition of democracy, the meaning of freedom, the legacy of slavery and, for three million young men in blue and gray, life and death itself.

What did the war reveal about who we were as a people in the 1860s? What did Americans think about states' rights, the Union, racial equality, civil liberties? For what values did the soldiers in blue and gray risk their lives? And to what degree have their ideals survived--and how has the conflict contributed to who we are today?

These and other issues will be explored when the UW Alumni Association and the College of Arts and Sciences present the 32nd Winter History Lecture Series, "A House Divided Against Itself: The Civil War as the Crucible of American Values," presented by History Professor Tracy McKenzie. This Civil War authority has been on the faculty since 1988 and won a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1998.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (right) and Gen Robert E. Lee(left) were icons of the American Civil War. Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (right) and Gen Robert E. Lee(left) were icons of the American Civil War. Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

McKenzie follows a tradition of leading historians presenting lectures for alumni that goes back to Professor Giovanni Costigan. Last year's series, presented by Professor Richard Johnson, sold out, and tickets to this series are expected to be in high demand. The lectures will be held on five Wednesdays Jan. 14-Feb. 11, in 130 Kane Hall.

On Jan. 14, McKenzie will delve into the role of slavery in the political crisis that culminated in secession. The second lecture, on Jan. 21, discusses the sectional and national values revealed in each region's response to the crisis and focuses on the values of enlisted men for both the North and South.

On Jan. 28, the lecture addresses the seminal question, "How did a war for a union only become a war for union and freedom?" It will stress the role and motivation of President Abraham Lincoln in redefining Northern war aims. The fourth lecture, on Feb. 4, takes a look at the suffering of civilians, the hardening of attitude among enlisted men, the rise of anti-war movements both North and South, and restrictions on civil liberties.

The series concludes on Feb. 11 with a lecture that takes an overview of the war's final year with a discussion of the conflict's larger meanings and the ways in which the war has been remembered by subsequent generations.

Series tickets for the 32nd Winter History Lecture Series cost $50 for UWAA and Arts and Sciences Dean's Club members, $60 for non-members, and $20 for students. Patron tickets will be available for $110 UWAA members and $125 non-members. Individual lecture tickets may be available at the door for $12 UWAA members, $15 non-members and $5 students.

To register, call the UWAA registration line at 206-543-3839. For more information, go to History Lecture Series Web site or call 206-543-0540.

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