This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction.
David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008.
Syllabus and suggested reading available at http://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-119#syllabus
Sept. 23 (Danbury Library)
1. Introductions: Why Does the Civil War Era Have a Hold on American Historical Imagination?
Oct. 01 (Danbury Museum)
2. Southern Society: Slavery, King Cotton, and Antebellum America's "Peculiar" Region
Oct. 07 (Danbury Library)
3. A Southern World View: The Old South and Proslavery Ideology
Oct. 15 (Danbury Museum)
4. A Northern World View: Yankee Society, Antislavery Ideology and the Abolition Movement
Oct. 21 (Danbury Library)
5. Telling a Free Story: Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in Myth and Reality
Oct. 29 (Danbury Museum)
6. Expansion and Slavery: Legacies of the Mexican War and the Compromise of 1850
Nov. 04 (Danbury Library)
7. "A Hell of a Storm": The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Birth of the Republican Party, 1854-55
Nov. 12 (Danbury Museum)
8. Dred Scott, Bleeding Kansas, and the Impending Crisis of the Union, 1855-58
Nov. 18 (Danbury Library)
9. John Brown's Holy War: Terrorist or Heroic Revolutionary?
Nov. 26 NO PROGRAM - THANKSGIVING
Dec. 02 (Danbury Library)
10. The Election of 1860 and the Secession Crisis
Dec. 10 (Danbury Museum)
11. Slavery and State Rights, Economies and Ways of Life: What Caused the Civil War?
Dec. 16 (Danbury Library)
13. Terrible Swift Sword: The Period of Confederate Ascendency, 1861-1862
Dec. 24 NO PROGRAM - CHRISTMAS
Dec. 30 NO PROGRAM - NEW YEAR'S EVE
Jan. 07 (Danbury Museum)
14. Never Call Retreat: Military and Political Turning Points in 1863
Jan. 13 (Danbury Library)
15. Lincoln, Leadership, and Race: Emancipation as Policy
Jan. 21 (Danbury Museum)
16. Days of Jubilee: The Meanings of Emancipation and Total War
Jan. 27 (Danbury Library)
17. Homefronts and Battlefronts: "Hard War" and the Social Impact of the Civil War
Feb. 04 (Danbury Museum)
18. "War So Terrible": Why the Union Won and the Confederacy Lost at Home and Abroad
Feb. 10 (Danbury Library)
19. To Appomattox and Beyond: The End of the War and a Search for Meanings
Feb. 18 (Danbury Museum)
20. Wartime Reconstruction: Imagining the Aftermath and a Second American Republic
Feb. 24 (Danbury Library)
21. Andrew Johnson and the Radicals: A Contest over the Meaning of Reconstruction
March 04 (Danbury Museum)
22. Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment of a President
March 10 (Danbury Library)
23. Black Reconstruction in the South: The Freedpeople and the Economics of Land and Labor
March 18 (Danbury Museum)
24. Retreat from Reconstruction: The Grant Era and Paths to "Southern Redemption"
March 24 (Danbury Library)
25. The "End" of Reconstruction: Disputed Election of 1876, and the "Compromise of 1877"
April 01 (Danbury Museum)
26. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
April 07 (Danbury Library)
27. Legacies of the Civil War
April 15 (Danbury Museum)
April 21 (Danbury Library)