Bridgewater Civil War Institute to focus on aftermath of war

The often turbulent years following the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and how the nation adjusted to a post-war footing is the topic of the 10th Annual Bridgewater College Civil War Institute, to be held Saturday, March 18, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The one-day institute, which is free and open to the public, will be in the Spoerlein Lecture Hall (Room 100) of the college’s McKinney Center for Science and Mathematics.

Exploring the theme of “The Aftermath of the Civil War” are:

Dr. Edward L. Ayers, president emeritus of the University of Richmond where he now serves as Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities. The topic of Ayres’ address is “Virginia Between Appomattox and Radical Reconstruction.”

“Those years of 1865, 1866 and early 1867 were some of the most chaotic and controversial in American history,” Ayres said. “Virginia, late to secede but the scene of so much fighting in the war, navigated its own path through that treacherous terrain.”

Ayers has written and edited 10 books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2013.

Dr. Caroline E. Janney is a professor of history at Purdue University and assistant head of the department of history. The topic of her address at the BC Civil War Institute is “After Appomattox: Lee’s Army in the Wake of Surrender.”

Janney’s research focuses on the Civil War and how the war generation remembered the nation’s bloodiest war. Her first book, Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause (2008) explores the role of white southern women as the creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition in the immediate post-Civil War South.

Her second book, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation is a volume in the Littlefield History of the Civil War Era and examines how the Civil War has been remembered between 1865 and the 1930s by northerners and southerners, men and women, white and black.

Janney also serves as a co-editor of the University of North Carolina Press’s Civil War America Series and is the in-coming president of the Society of Civil War Historians.

Dr. Terry Alford is professor of history emeritus at Northern Virginia Community College. Alford will speak on “John Wilkes Booth: A Life Considered.”

Alford is a founding board member of the Abraham Lincoln Institute of Washington, D.C., and is an internationally recognized authority on John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He is a member of the Ford’s Theater Advisory Council.

Alford is also the author of Prince Among Slaves, which was made into a PBS documentary in 2007. The book tells the story of Abdul Rahman, an 18th century Muslim prince from what is now Guinea who was captured and forced into slavery in the Old South. Prince Among Slaves was made into an award-winning documentary shown on public television in the United States in 2008 to an audience of more than four million viewers. The book, republished in 2007 to mark its 30th anniversary in print, was recently translated into Turkish.

In 2010, Alford received the Outstanding Faculty of Virginia Award from the State Council on Higher Education. This is the highest teaching honor given to college and university faculty in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Dr. Adam Zucconi is an associate professor of history at the Richard Bland College of William and Mary, and a 2009 Bridgewater College alumnus. His topic for the Civil War Institute will be “‘Some’ Mountaineers Are Always Free,” a play on the motto of West Virginia, which is “Mountaineers Are Always Free.” His presentation will focus on how the politics of slavery influenced what became West Virginia before, during and after the Civil War.

Zucconi’s research interests include 19th century politics and political culture, slavery, and West Virginia and Virginia history. He is currently revising his dissertation, which focused on slavery, sectionalism and statehood in western Virginia.

“We are excited to have this extraordinary group of accomplished and well-respected Civil War historians present at our annual Civil War Institute,” said co-founder Nick Picerno. “The institute’s growth in respect and reputation makes it possible for us to attract historians from academia within and outside the commonwealth. This affords our attendees diverse perspectives from some of the nation’s foremost authorities of American Civil War history.”

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.