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Civil War History: Historians' Forum

Historians’ Forum: Centennial vs. Sesquicentennial

Feb 29th, 2012

The American Civil War’s Centennial vs. the Sesquicentennial


In 2010, Daniel Sutherland’s A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) won the Watson-Brown Prize for the best book in the Civil War era from the Society of Civil War Historians. During his acceptance speech, Sutherland reflected on the pending sesquicentennial, wondering whether it would attract the same amount of attention as the centennial commemoration fifty years previous. In light of the discussion generated by Sutherland’s address at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association, the editors of Civil War History sought to explore this question further by organizing a forum on the topic. Daniel Sutherland, a member of our board of editors, was kind enough to offer his thoughts on the participants’ responses at the end of our forum.

Our Panelists:

Robert Cook (RC) is professor of American history at the University of Sussex, UK. He is the author of several books and articles on the Civil War and Civil War memory, including Troubled Commemoration: the American Civil War Centennial, 1961–1965 (Louisiana State University Press, 2007) and Civil War Senator: William Pitt Fessenden and the Fight to Save the American Republic (Louisiana State University Press, 2011).

Kenneth Noe (KN) is the Alumni Professor and Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. His most recent book is Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

Dana Shoaf (DS) is the editor of Civil War Times magazine, the largest and oldest popular Civil War magazine. Each issue reaches approximately seventy-five thousand people, and he diligently uses the magazine as a conduit to bring academic research and opinion to a large audience. He also serves on the Washington Post’s Civil War sesquicentennial advisory board.

Jennifer Weber (JW) is associate professor of history at the University of Kansas and author of Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North (Oxford University Press, 2008). Her specialty is Civil War studies.

Daniel E. Sutherland (“Postscript”) is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas, where he has taught since 1989. He is the author or editor of thirteen books on nineteenth-century U.S. history.


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