Learn about the political, social, and economic changes in the Union and the Confederacy and the Civil War’s long-term economic and intellectual impact.
A New Birth of Freedom: The Civil War, 1861-1865 narrates the history of the American Civil War. While the course examines individual engagements and the overall nature of the military conflict, the focus is less on the battlefield than on political, social, and economic change in the Union and the Confederacy. Central to the account are the road to emancipation, the role of black soldiers, the nature of Abraham Lincoln’s wartime leadership, internal dissent in both the North and South, the changing position of women in both societies, and the war’s long-term economic and intellectual impact. We end with a look at the beginnings of Reconstruction during the conflict.
This course is part of the series, The Civil War and Reconstruction, which introduces students to the most pivotal era in American history. The Civil War transformed the nation by eliminating the threat of secession and destroying the institution of slavery. It raised questions that remain central to our understanding of ourselves as a people and a nation — the balance of power between local and national authority, the boundaries of citizenship, and the meanings of freedom and equality. The series will examine the causes of the war, the road to secession, the conduct of the Civil War, the coming of emancipation, and the struggle after the war to breathe meaning into the promise of freedom for four million emancipated slaves. One theme throughout the series is what might be called the politics of history — how the world in which a historian lives affects his or her view of the past, and how historical interpretations reinforce or challenge the social order of the present.
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, is one of the most prominent historians in the United States. Professor Foner is the author or editor of over twenty books concentrating on the intersections of intellectual, political and social history and the history of American race relations. His recent book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize. He is the author of Give Me Liberty!: An American History, a widely-used survey textbook of U. S. history published by W. W. Norton. Additionally, he is the recipient of the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching from Columbia University. He is one of only two persons ever to serve as president of the three major professional organizations: the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Society of American Historians. As co-curator of two award-winning historical exhibitions, and through frequent appearances in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television discussion programs, he has also endeavored to bring historical knowledge to a broad public outside the university.
See other courses in this series:
The Civil War and Reconstruction - 1850-1861
The Civil War and Reconstruction - 1865-1890
Chicago Historical Society; Colby College; Columbia University; Cornell University; Paul J. Cronin; HarperCollins; LaborArts.org; Library of Congress; Museum of Modern Art; New York University; the Roam Agency; Wikipedia; W. W. Norton & Co.; and additional cultural and educational institutions. The design, production, and distribution of “The Civil War and Reconstruction” series is generously supported by the Office of the Provost at Columbia University.
"The Civil War and Reconstruction" course series is Copyright © 2014, Eric Foner and the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Except where otherwise noted. Professor Foner’s course lecture videos in the series are licensed with the Creative Commons license BY-NC-SA 4.0, which means that anyone anywhere may copy, share, adapt, and remix the videos and the videos’ key media components, including transcripts, without having to ask for prior permission, as long as such sharing is done for noncommercial purposes and the original author, work, and copyright and Creative Commons notice above are cited. For more information, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/