This course takes an in-depth look at the national events and controversies that led to the American Civil War, the most tumultuous era and momentous event in our history. 

More broadly, we’ll be studying the antebellum period, one of rapid American development: slavery and the complicated history of American race relations, national and state politics, social and class relations, industrialism, the growth of the West, the rise of the antislavery and proslavery movements, the Mexican War and the territorial conflicts, as well as important military and political events, such sectionalism and secession, that preceded the Civil War.

We will study a number of important historical figures who figured deeply in the period’s fiery trial, such as Abraham Lincoln, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Frederick Douglass, Dred Scott, and John Brown, and their evolving ideas of American liberty. 

By this important era, successive generations of Americans (and non-Americans) have come to understand our nation and ourselves.