Civil War & Reconstruction

Welcome to the American Civil War!!!

Course Description:

This course will cover the period from 1846-1877. The course is divided into three sections. We will spend the first third of the semester on the events leading up to the war. Beginning with the Mexican-American War in 1846 the United States embarked on a program of significant expansion. As the United States expanded to the Pacific Ocean many of the new territories acquired from Mexico proved difficult to organize. A fierce debate over slavery in the newly acquired territories led to the so-called Compromise of 1850. We will examine in some detail the ideology behind the Wilmot Proviso and the “Calhoun Doctrine. While the compromise delayed the war for another ten years, the 1850s saw an explosion of sectional tensions. Violence broke out in Kansas after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and violence erupted on the floor of the United States Senate. The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution set in motion other events culminating in John Brown’s Raid against the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia). After analyzing the events leading up to the war, we will spend the next four to six weeks examining the discourse of the war itself. Equal attention will be given to such issues as foreign affairs, economics, politics, battles, social and class tensions, and of course, slavery and emancipation. The final section of the course will be devoted to the Reconstruction period. A significant portion of this section will look at the meaning of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution and to the Grant administration.

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