The Civil War in Global Context

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


Don H. Doyle
McCausland Professor of History, University of South Carolina
National Humanities Center Fellow

About the Seminar

How did the Union and the Confederacy explain what they were fighting for to the rest of the world? How did foreign politicians and intellectuals interpret the War? And what role did foreigners play in the conflict? This seminar will address these and other questions as it places the Civil War in a global perspective. Through close study of speeches by Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln and diplomatic instructions issued to overseas agents, participants will discover how, to foreign observers, the War evolved from being nothing more that an American quarrel over constitutional issues to an epic battle that would determine the survival of the American republic, the future of human slavery, and the fate of the “democratic experiment” around the world. Through an examination of the iconography of recruiting posters, the seminar will also illuminate the decisive but neglected role foreigners played in the struggle.

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Assigned Readings

  1. Jefferson Davis Inaugural Address
  2. Instructions to the first European commission from Robert Toombs, CSA Secretary of State, March 16, 1861.
  3. Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.
  4. Instructions to William Dayton, US minister to France, from William H. Seward, US Secretary of State, April 22, 1861.
  5. Carl Schurz, US minister to Spain, account of his conversation with Abraham Lincoln, January 1862.
  6. Garibaldi's Question.
  7. Recruitment posters.
  8. Peter Welsh, private, Massachusetts 28th Infantry, to his father-in-law, in Ireland, June 1, 1863.
  9. Excerpts from America Before Europe: Principles and Interests, by Agénor de Gasparin.
  10. Karl Marx, “The London Times on the Orleans Princes in America,” New York Daily Tribune, November 7, 1861.

Seminar Recording