Virginia Civil War 150
Conference     2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Return to conference overview

"America on the Eve of the Civil War"
University of Richmond
April 29, 2009

Edward L. Ayers, Conference Chair

Ed Ayers has invited national authorities on events leading up to the Civil War to bring their perspectives to this innovative program format. This program launches the nation's observance of the Civil War sesquicentennial. Dr. Ayers will serve as moderator and a primary participant for each panel discussion. About Dr. Ayers


Jean H. Baker
Dr. Jean Baker is Professor of History at Goucher College, where she has taught since 1972. She received her B.A. degree from Goucher and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of ten books that include Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography and the recently published Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists. She is also the co-author, with David Herbert Donald and Michael Holt, of Civil War and Reconstruction. She is currently writing a biography of Margaret Sanger, the birth control advocate.


David W. Blight
David W. Blight is Class of 1954 Professor of American History at Yale University, joining that faculty in January 2003. He previously taught at Amherst College for thirteen years. As of June 2004, he is Director the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. During the 2006-07 academic year he was a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars, New York Public Library.

Blight is a frequent book reviewer for The Washington Post Book World, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe and is one of the authors of the bestselling American history textbook for the college level, A People and a Nation. His book, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Harvard University Press, 2001), received eight awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, as well as four awards from the Organization of American Historians. Blight’s most recent book, A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation, was published by Harcourt in 2007.


Christy S. Coleman
Prior to being named president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in 2008, Christy S. Coleman led the nation’s largest African American museum: the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. During her tenure she launched a successful $43 million Legacy Campaign. She has served as a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, Monticello, Mount Vernon and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center among others. Ms. Coleman began her career at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation where she fulfilled various, increasingly responsible roles. Raised in Williamsburg, she received her bachelor's and master’s degrees from Hampton University.


Daniel Crofts
Daniel Crofts has been a professor at the College of New Jersey since 1975; serving as the History Department chair from 1996-2004. He earned his doctorate at Yale in 1968 under the supervision of C. Vann Woodward. His primary teaching and research fields are the Old South and the North-South sectional conflict. As a political historian, he attempts to frame politics in the larger social and economic matrix.

Crofts has published numerous articles, written over fifty book reviews, and contributed to four biographical anthologies (including four entries in American National Biography). Some of his published works include Old Southampton: Politics and Society in a Virginia County, 1834-1869 (University Press of Virginia, 1992), and Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis (University of North Carolina Press, 1989).


Charles B. Dew
Charles B. Dew teaches the history of the South and the Civil War and Reconstruction at Williams College, where he is Ephraim Williams Professor of American History. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, he attended Woodberry Forest School in Virginia and Williams College prior to completing his Ph. D. degree at the Johns Hopkins University under the direction of C. Vann Woodward. He is the author of three books: Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works; Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge; and Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. Two of these works, Ironmaker to the Confederacy and Apostles of Disunion, received the Fletcher Pratt Award, given by the Civil War Roundtable of New York for the best nonfiction book on the Civil War in its year of publication. Bond of Iron was awarded the Organization of American Historians' Elliott Rudwick Prize and was a finalist for the Lincoln Prize.


Gary W Gallagher
Gary W. Gallagher is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia. He graduated from Adams State College in Colorado and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in history from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to teaching at UVA, he was Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University.

His many books include The Confederate War and Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2008) and The Confederate War (Harvard University Press, 1997). He has co-authored and edited several works on individual battles and campaigns and has published over 100 articles in scholarly journals and popular historical magazines.

Gallagher has received many awards for his research and writing, including the Laney Prize for the best book on the Civil War, the William Woods Hassler Award for contributions to Civil War studies, the Lincoln Prize, and the Fletcher Pratt Award for the best nonfiction book on the Civil War. Gallagher was founder and first president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites and has served on the Board of Directors of the Civil War Trust.


Walter Johnson
Walter Johnson's work focuses on slavery, capitalism, and, increasingly, imperialism. His book, Soul by Soul, uses the slave market as a way into the fantasies, fears, negotiations, and violence that characterized American slavery. Since the book, his work has followed two courses. First, he wrote a series of essays about social and historical theory: notions of time in American slavery; the idea of "agency" as the organizing theme of scholarship on slavery; on theories of capitalism and slavery; and the idea of reparations for slavery as a historical narrative. Second, he has been working on a history of the Mississippi Valley between the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War entitled River of Dark Dreams: Slavery, Capitalism, and Imperialism in the Mississippi Valley. Without giving up the focus on the immediate experience of slavery and mastery upon which he focused in Soul by Soul, this book will embed the history of slavery in the U.S. in the histories of global capitalism (especially the cotton trade and the Atlantic money market) and U.S. imperialism (the Louisiana Purchase, the Mexican War, and the illegal invasions of Cuba and Nicaragua in the 1850s).

Walter Johnson received his B.A. from Amherst College and his doctorate from Princeton University. Before coming to Harvard, he taught History and American Studies at New York University.

More Information


Robert C. Kenzer
Robert C. Kenzer is the William Binford Vest Chair in History and American Studies at the University of Richmond. He teaches courses on the Civil War Era, the Civil War in Film and Literature, as well as Abraham Lincoln. A native of Chicago, he grew up in Southern California and received his BA in History from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He then earned his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of both Kinship and Neighborhood in a Southern Community: Orange County, North Carolina, 1849-1881; Enterprising Southerners: Black Economic Success in North Carolina, 1865-1915 and co-editor of Enemies of My Country: New Perspectives on Unionists in the Civil War South.


Gregg D. Kimball
Gregg D. Kimball is Director of Publications and Educational Services at the Library of Virginia and previously worked at the Valentine Richmond History Museum for almost ten years. He holds the Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia as well as a Master of Library Science from the University of Maryland. He has published numerous essays and articles, and authored the book American City, Southern Place: A Cultural History of Antebellum Richmond (University of Georgia Press, 2000). Kimball's main research interests are the American South, African-American history and culture, and traditional music in America.


Nelson D. Lankford
For the past twenty-four years Nelson D. Lankford has been the editor of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the quarterly journal of the Virginia Historical Society. His most recent book is Cry Havoc: The Crooked Road to Civil War, 1861! (Viking, 2007). It examines the last weeks of peace between Lincoln’s inauguration and the beginning of the war. A previous book, Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital (Viking, 2002) examined the end of the war for Virginia’s capital city. An earlier book, Eye of the Storm, which Lankford co-edited with Charles F. Bryan, Jr., concerned Private Robert Knox Sneden, a Union private and prisoner of war during the Civil War.

Lankford is a native of Hampton, Virginia. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and his Ph.D. and MBA from Indiana University, Bloomington. He lives in Richmond with his wife Judy, serves as a director of the Hollywood Cemetery Company and is a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, and a former president of the Conference of Historical Journals.


Lauranett L. Lee
Lauranett Lorraine Lee is a native of Chesterfield County, Virginia. She received her B.A. in communications from Mundelein College, an M.A. in American History from Virginia State University in 1993 and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia in 2002. She became the founding curator of African American history at the Virginia Historical Society in 2001. She has taught at Old Dominion University, Virginia Union University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Her book, Making the American Dream Work: A Cultural History of African Americans in Hopewell, Virginia, was published in August 2008.


David S. Reynolds
David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His current book is Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, to be published by HarperCollins in October 2008. His book John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, was, according to Publisher’s Lunch, “the most widely reviewed in America in major periodicals” when it appeared in May 2005. He is also a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review.

David Reynolds received a B.A. magna cum laude from Amherst College and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He is one of a small handful of CUNY’s 6,100 professors chosen to represent CUNY in its “Look Who’s Teaching Here” ad campaign, featured in New York’s subways, buses, and newspapers. He has been widely interviewed on television and radio for his expertise in American politics and American history.


Manisha Sinha
Manisha Sinha is Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies and History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She was born in India and received her doctorate from Columbia University. She is the author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (2000) and is currently working on a book on African Americans and the movement to abolish slavery, 1775-1865.

Sinha is the recipient of numerous fellowships, among which are research grants from the National Endowment in the Humanities, American Philosophical Society, American Council of Learned Societies, the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History, the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History and the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African American Research at Harvard University and a Rockefeller Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities from the University of North Carolina. Her research interests lie in nineteenth century United States history, especially the history of slavery and abolition, southern and African American history, and the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction. She has published and lectured widely on these topics.


Elizabeth R. Varon
Elizabeth R. Varon is Professor of History at Temple University and Associate Director of the Center for the Humanities at Temple. She received her MA from Swarthmore College and PhD from Yale. A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, she is the author of We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), which won the Lerner-Scott Prize of the American Historical Association, and Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (Oxford University Press, 2003), which won the Lillian Smith Prize of the Southern Regional Council. Her newest book is Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, volume I of the "Littlefield History of the Civil War Era" series (Littlefield Fund for Southern History and University of North Carolina Press, Fall 2008). She has just begun working on a study of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia.


Clarence E. Walker
Clarence E. Walker is a Professor of History & Cultural Studies at the University of California Davis. He has written several books including, A Rock In A Weary Land: The African Methodist Episcopal Church During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Louisiana State University Press, 1982); Deromanticizing Black History: Critical Essays and Reappraisals (University of Tennessee Press, 1991); We Can't Go Home Again: An Argument About Afrocentrism (Oxford University Press, 2001), which was a London Times Literary Supplement "International Book of the Year", 2001; and Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten By Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings (Forthcoming University of Virginia Press, 2009).


Joan Waugh
Professor Joan Waugh of the UCLA History Department researches and writes about nineteenth-century America, specializing in Civil War and Reconstruction. Professor Waugh’s first book, Unsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell (Harvard University Press, 1998) is a biography of an important social welfare figure in 1880s New York City. Waugh has published several essays on Civil War topics and her next book, to be published in 2009 is entitled “Ulysses S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth.” Her most recent book (with Alice Fahs) is The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture (University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

Waugh is often invited to give public lectures about the Civil War. She has been interviewed for many documentaries, including the PBS series, “American Experience” on Ulysses S. Grant first shown in 2002. Waugh teaches the “Civil War and Reconstruction,” and “America from 1865-1900” undergraduate lecture courses at UCLA. These courses regularly attract from 200-400 students. Waugh has been honored with three prizes for her teaching, including UCLA’s “Distinguished Teaching Award.” Waugh has also developed a travel study course in which she takes a group of UCLA students to Gettysburg National Military Park and other selected Civil War sites to study the effects of the war.






This program is sponsored in part by the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, The History Channel, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the generous support of our donors, including the Civil War 150 Council.


Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War
© 2017 Commonwealth of VA    Contact / Email Newsletter
Media Center   Terms of Use
Privacy/Security Statement  Contact Webmaster
Commission logo trademarked, not to be used without authorization