Public Program- William W. Freehling

Lectures and Performances Baron
Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 7:30pm

The Nullification Crisis and the Causes of the Civil War Revisited
by William W. Freehling

The 6th Annual Baron Lecture

William FreehlingIn his 1965 study Prelude to Civil War, one of the most distinguished historians of the Civil War era William Freehling, painted a vivid picture of a pivotal early sectional crisis between the North and the South: the Nullification Controversy of 1832-3. The crisis pitted President Andrew Jackson and the Union against John C. Calhoun and the most extreme southern state, South Carolina. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836 examined how the reversal of South Carolina's economic fortunes, fears of slave rebellions, and guilt over slavery contributed to the crisis and the near session of South Carolina from the Union. Considered one of the finest studies of the antebellum period, the book won the Bancroft and the Allan Nevins History prizes. In this lecture, Professor Freehling will describe the inspirations for writing the book, reexamine his thesis of the centrality of slavery to this crisis and how it served as a window on all the slavery controversies to come, and reflect on the nature of writing history.

William W. Freehling is Singletary Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at the University of Kentucky and Senior Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He is the author of eight books including: The Reintegration of American History: Slavery and the Civil War, The South vs. the South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War and The Road to Disunion, Volume I: Secessionists at Bay and The Road to Disunion, Volume II: Secessionists Triumphant.

Named in honor of Robert C. Baron, past AAS chairman and president of Fulcrum Publishing, the annual Baron Lecture asks distinguished AAS members who have written seminal works of history to reflect on one book and its impact on scholarship and society in the years since its first appearance.

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