Slavery and the Crisis of the Union: The American Civil War Era

3 credits


Constitutional Democracy

(same as BL_STU 4040, HIST 4040; cross-leveled with HIST 7040, BL_STU 7040). This class explores the history of the Civil War era, a transformative moment in both U.S. and world history. Our goal is to explore and answer a number of questions of great historical significance: How and why did slavery persist in an age of liberal democracy? Why did the pre-war Union prove unable to tolerate the plural visions and diverse institutions of its people? Was the descent into war more a measure of institutional weakness than of the intensity of moral conflict? What were the constituent elements of the competing wartime ‘nationalisms’ that evolved in both north and south? How and why did a war that began to restore the Union become one for emancipation? How was it the forerunner of modern, ‘total’ warfare? Did the governmental, socio-economic and racial changes wrought by war constitute a ‘second American revolution’? Were the limits or the achievements of post-war Reconstruction more notable? And, last but certainly not least, how did the triumph of the Union condition the political and economic development of a rapidly globalizing world?