History Research Paper Topics Civil War Marvel

2018 Civil War Institute Faculty:

Garry Adelman is the Director of History and Education at the Civil War Trust.  He holds an M.A. in History from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. Garry is the award-winning author, co-author, or editor of 60 Civil War books and articles, including: Gettysburg in 3-D (2013), Antietam in 3-D (2012),  Manassas Battlefields Then & Now (2011), The Civil War 150 (2011), and the Bachelder-Coddington Award-winning Devil's Den: A History and Guide (1997). Adelman is the co-founder and Vice President of the Center for Civil War Photography and has worked as a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 23 years. He has conceived and drafted the text for wayside exhibits at ten battlefields, has given thousands of battlefield tours at more than 50 sites, and has lectured at hundreds of locations across the country, including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian. Known for his video work, Adelman wrote the script for the Telly Award-winning Gettysburg Animated Map (2013) and has appeared in hundreds of video features on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network, and the American Heroes Channel.  He has also worked for HISTORY as a consultant and talking head on the Emmy Award-winning show Gettysburg (2011) and Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color (2015). He is currently in the process of developing multiple Civil War virtual reality and 360 videos as well as several animated maps, and is working on a book project entitled The Civil War: Then, Now and in Detail.

Susan Ashman is a Park Ranger and Historic Weapons Officer at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site located in Springfield, MA. She has previously worked at Old Sturbridge Village for over 10 years as an historical interpreter. A member of the Association of Living History Farms and Agricultural Museums, she has given multiple presentations about 19th-century agriculture and farm life, including beekeeping and women’s dairying roles.

Michael Birkner is Professor of History at Gettysburg College, where he has taught since 1989. His major scholarship has focused on aspects of 19th and 20th century American political and social history. He has written extensively on the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the role of Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff, Sherman Adams. He is the recent author of Eisenhower’s Gettysburg Farm (Arcadia Publishing, 2017).  Birkner has edited or coedited three volumes on the presidency of James Buchanan, including James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War (University Press of Florida, 2003) and James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s (Susquehanna University Press, 1996), and another on the correspondence of Daniel Webster. His study of Bergenfield, New Jersey’s 20th century transformation was named a CHOICE outstanding book in 1995. Birkner is currently completing a book on the presidential election of 1952, and researching another volume on American correspondents in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. Birkner received his bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College and his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Virginia, with a specialization in Jacksonian era politics. A graduate of Gettysburg College, Birkner served in the mid-1980s as editorial page editor of the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire. He continues to contribute op-ed pieces to that paper and various other dailies.

Daryl Black is the Executive Director and President of the Seminary Ridge Museum in Gettysburg.  He holds a Ph.D. in American Cultural History.  A life-long student of the Civil War, he has taught at the university level and worked in museum settings for over 20 years. Dr. Black’s scholarly interests range from the study of memory, race and religion in the United States, to the new military history of the Civil War. He has authored numerous essays for scholarly journals and edited volumes, including “Relics of Reunion: Souvenirs and Memory at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, 1889-1895” (in Lawrence A. Kresier and Randal Allred, eds., Popular Culture and the American Civil War: Memory and Meaning, University Press of Kentucky, 2014);  “’Of Course we Claim to be Americans’: Revolution, Memory and Race in Up-Country Georgia Baptist Churches, 1772-1849” (in Clare Courbold, Michael McDonnell, and Fitzhugh Brundage, eds., Remembering the Revolution: Memory, History and Nation Making from Independence to the Civil War, University of Massachusetts Press, 2013); and “’The Excitement of High and Holy Affections:’ Baptist Revival and Cultural Creation in the Upper-Piedmont Georgia Cotton Belt, 1800-1828” (Georgia Historical Quarterly, Fall, 2003).  Dr. Black is currently writing a religious history of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that situates the Civil War era as a major religious watershed in the southern United States. Taking a long view, the study stretches from the early 19th century through the early debates over fundamentalism in the early 20th century. He is also working on an essay entitled “‘Our Victory Here Has Been Complete’: The War in Tennessee: 1863,” which will be published in the forthcoming Cambridge History of the American Civil War (Aaron Sheehan-Dean, ed., Cambridge University Press).

Keith Bohannon is Professor of History at the University of West Georgia where he teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Old South, and Georgia history.  He is the co-editor, with Randall Allen, of Campaigning with Old Stonewall in Virginia: The Letters of Ujanirtus Allen, Company F, 21st Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry (LSU Press, 1998), and is the author of numerous essays, book reviews, and scholarly journal articles. Prior to his appointment to the faculty at West Georgia, Dr. Bohannon worked as an historian, interpreter, and living historian with the National Park Service at multiple Civil War sites.  He is currently editing for publication the Civil War and Reconstruction memoirs of a Confederate Army officer and Klan leader from Georgia named John C. Reed.

James J. Broomall is an Assistant Professor of History at Shepherd University and the Director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War, which integrates academic scholarship, undergraduate education, and public engagement. He is the co-editor, with William Link, of Rethinking American Emancipation: Legacies of Slavery and the Quest for Black Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Dr. Broomall has published articles in Civil War Times, Civil War History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era. His manuscript, Personal Reconstructions: Southern  Men as Citizens and Soldiers, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press and is due out in the Spring of 2019.

Kent Masterson Brown is a Lexington, Kentucky-based historian and attorney who has practiced law for forty-three years. He was the creator and first editor of the national magazine, The Civil War, and is author of many books, including Cushing of Gettysburg: The Story of a Union Artillery Commander (University Press of Kentucky, 1998); The Civil War in Kentucky: Battle for the Bluegrass State (Savas Publishing Company, 2000); Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennsylvania Campaign (UNC Press, 2005); One of Morgan’s Men: The Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry(University Press of Kentucky, 2011); and The Confederacy’s First Battle Flag (Pelican Publishing, 2014).  Most of Kent’s books have been featured selections of the History Book Club and Military Book Club; Cushing of Gettysburg, Retreat From Gettysburg, and One of Morgan’s Men have also received numerous national awards. His current book project, George Gordon Meade and the Gettysburg Campaign, will go to press in early 2018.  Kent is also President and Content Developer for Witnessing History, LLC.  He has written, hosted, and produced numerous award-winning documentary films for public and cable television, including: Long Road Back to Kentucky; Retreat From Gettysburg; Bourbon and Kentucky: A History Distilled; Henry Clay and the Struggle for the Union; The Southern Cross;Unsung Hero: The Horse in the Civil War; Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West; and “I Remember The Old Home Very Well: The Lincolns in Kentucky (all of which were Telly Award recipients).  Unsung Hero was also nominated for an Emmy Award.  Kent was the first chairman of the Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission and the first chairman of the Perryville (Kentucky) Battlefield Commission, a seat he held for eleven years while overseeing the expansion of the Perryville Battlefield.  He currently serves as a director of the Gettysburg Foundation.

Peter S. Carmichael is the Director of the Civil War Institute and the Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College. He currently teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, the American South, and public history.  He is the author of numerous scholarly articles, essays, and two books: Lee’s Young Artillerist: William R.J. Pegram (University of Virginia Press, 1998), and The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (University of North Carolina Press, 2005).  Dr. Carmichael has lectured widely on topics pertaining to the Civil War and public history, and has appeared as an expert scholar in several historical documentaries.  He has also conducted numerous public presentations, teacher workshops, exhibit consultations, and multiple interpretive workshops for National Park Service staff, and has assisted with the development of the student internship program at numerous NPS sites.  His most recent book, a cultural history of Civil War soldiers entitled The War for the Common Soldier, is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press.

Dennis E. Frye is the Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  He is the author of nine books and 98 articles.  His most recent book, September Suspense: Lincoln's Union in Peril, was published in 2012.  Dennis has appeared in numerous documentaries on PBS, the History Channel and Discovery Channel, CSPAN, Fox News, and Voice of America.   He also helped to produce multiple Emmy-award shows on John Brown, the Civil War, and Maryland's role in the Civil War. Dennis is an original founder and past president of two nationally renowned preservation organizations--the Civil War Trust and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. He is also a highly sought-after battlefield guide who regularly leads tours for both the general public and for prominent educational institutions and media groups, including the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and the New York Times. Dennis and his wife Sylvia have restored General Burnside's post-Antietam headquarters as their family residence.

Judith Giesberg is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at Villanova University. Giesberg is the author of five books: Civil War Sisterhood: The United States Sanitary Commission and Women's Politics in Transition (Northeastern University Press, 2000),“Army at Home:” Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front (UNC Press, 2009), Keystone State in Crisis:  Pennsylvania in the Civil War (Pennsylvania Historical Association, 2013), and Emilie Davis's Civil War:  The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014.)  Judy’s latest book, Sex and the Civil War, was released early this year; it explores pornography and the sexual culture of the U.S. Army camps during the Civil War.   Judy is Editor of the Journal of the Civil War Era. Currently, she is directing a digital project, Last Seen:  Finding Family After Slavery, that is collecting, digitizing, and transcribing information from wanted ads taken out by former slaves looking for family members lost to the domestic slave trade.  She is also working on a study of the administration of the 1870 census.

Michael P. Gray is Professor of History at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania where he teaches courses on U.S. History to 1877, the Civil War, Interpreting Civil War Sites & Memory, U.S. Military History, and War and Society.  He is currently developing a “special topics” course on Civil War prisons and the Home Front.  His first book, The Business of Captivity: Elmira and its Civil War Prison (Kent State University Press, 2001), was a finalist for the Seaborg Award, and a chapter of that work, first published in Civil War History, earned “Honorable Mention” for the Eastern National Award. In addition to penning the new introduction to Ovid L. Futch’s classic History of Andersonville Prison in 2011, Gray is the author of “Captivating Captives: An Excursion to Johnson’s Island Prison,” an essay published in Ginette Aley and Joseph Anderson’s edited collection, Union Heartland: The Midwestern Home Front During the Civil War (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013).  He is currently finishing an edited volume entitled Crossing the Deadline: Civil War Prisons Reconsidered and is progressing on a full-length treatment on the Johnson’s Island Prison. Gray currently serves as the series editor for the University of Tennessee Press’s Voices of the Civil War, which has produced more than 50 primary source volumes related to the conflict. Publicly recognized as a noted historian of Civil War prisons, Gray has discussed his scholarship on CNN and was recently featured on an episode of The Learning Channel’s nationally acclaimed series, “Who Do You Think You Are” with actress Jessica Biel, in which he assisted in uncovering the history of Biel’s lost ancestor who was incarcerated at a Civil War prison. Gray is the recipient of several internal and external grants relating to Civil War prisons, including the 2011 “Civil War Prison Archeology: Team Teaching Public History on Johnson’s Island” grant, as well as the 2014 “National Prisoner of War Grant,” for Andersonville, Georgia.  He has also received multiple awards from ESU faculty and students for excellence in teaching.

A.Wilson Greene recently retired from a 44-year career in public history.  He spent sixteen years in the National Park Service, served as the first director of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (now the Civil War Trust), and was the founding director of Pamplin Historical Park & the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, where he worked for 22 years.  Greene holds a Masters degree in History. He is the author of numerous articles in scholarly and popular publications and six books, including his latest: ACampaign of Giants: The Battles for Petersburg, Volume 1, From the Crossing of the James to the Battle of the Crater (UNC Press, forthcoming).

D. Scott Hartwig retired in 2014 as the supervisory park historian at Gettysburg National Military Park after a 34-year career in the National Park Service, nearly all of it spent at Gettysburg.  He won the regional Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation in 1993, and was a key player for the design of all aspects of the new Gettysburg museum/visitor center.  He has authored numerous articles, essays and books on Civil War subjects, and has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery Channel and Pennsylvania Cable Network.  He is the author of To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign from September 3 to September 16, published in September 2012 by Johns Hopkins University Press, and is currently working on the second volume, tentatively titled, I Dread The Thought of the Place: The Battle of Antietam, which covers the battle and end of the Maryland Campaign.

John Hennessy is the Chief Historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he has worked since 1995. He commenced his 35-year-career in history at Manassas National Battlefield Park and has also worked in the New York State Historic Preservation Office. John is the author of four books, including Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas (Simon and Schuster, 1993), which was named a Main Selection by the History Book Club. His additional publications include contributions to several anthologies and more than 100 reviews, essays, and articles on the Civil War and preservation.  He has also written extensively for the popular blog, Mysteries and Conundrums. In his role as Chief Historian at FRSP, John was the primary author of Holding the High Ground, a scholarly field study that helped guide the evolution of interpretation at Civil War battlefields over the last fifteen years and which served as a foundational document for the National Park Service’s observance of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.

John Hoptak is a Park Ranger and Education Technician at Gettysburg National Military Park.  His tenure with the National Park Service dates back to 2006.  Prior to his arrival at Gettysburg, he worked at Antietam National Battlefield.  He is the author of several books, including: First in Defense of the Union: The Civil War History of the First Defenders (AuthorHouse, 2004); The Battle of Antietam: September 17, 1862 (Western Maryland Interpretive Association, 2010);  The Battle of South Mountain (The History Press, 2011); Confrontation at Gettysburg: A Nation Saved, a Cause Lost (The History Press, 2012); and the forthcoming volume, "Dear Ma:" The Civil War Letters of Curtis C. Pollock, First Defender and First Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. Hoptak is also a frequent contributor to Civil War Times, America's Civil War, and other publications, and is a regular lecturer at Civil War Roundtables across the country. Since 2006, he has maintained a popular blog site dedicated to the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, a regiment recruited from his native Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, which can be found at www.48thpennsylvania.blogspot.com. Hoptak holds a Master's degree in History as well as a Pennsylvania Teacher’s Certification in Citizenship Education for grades seven through twelve. 

Evan A. Kutzler is an Assistant Professor of U.S. and Public History at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia. He is co-editor (with Timothy J. Williams) of Prison Pens: Gender, Memory, and Imprisonment in the Writings of Mollie Scollay and Wash Nelson, 1863-1866 (UGA Press, 2018). He is currently working on a sensory history of Civil War prisons. He has published selections of this work in the Journal of Social History and as part of a roundtable discussion in the scholarly journal, Civil War History.

Jonathan Lande teaches courses in American and African American history at Tougaloo College as the 2017-2018 Brown-Tougaloo Exchange Faculty Fellow.  He is completing his Ph.D. at Brown University, where he is the 2016 Peter Green Scholar.  His current project, “Rebellion in the Ranks,” examines the desertion, mutiny, and courts-martial trials of former slaves serving in the Union army. Looking at African American soldiers who found military service offensive to their visions of freedom, “Rebellion in the Ranks” traces the resistance of African American soldiers and remaps the process of emancipation in the Union army. A portion of his research entitled “Trials of Freedom” appeared in the Journal of Social History.   The African American Intellectual History Society blog, Black Perspectives, also featured a guest posting from Jonathan on desertion and black military service.  He is the recipient of the William F. Holmes Award from the Southern Historical Association and the Du Bois-Wells Award from the African American Intellectual History Society.

Ashley Whitehead Luskey is the Assistant Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, where she works closely with Gettysburg College students on a variety of original research-based Civil War and public history projects, coordinates the annual CWI summer conference, and gives tours of the battlefield to visitors.  She holds a Masters in History, with a concentration in Public History, and a Ph.D. in nineteenth-century American history.  Her academic interests include the Civil War and Reconstruction, southern history, cultural history, and the intersection of history & memory. Prior to her arrival at CWI, Ashley worked for 10 years with the National Park Service, including most recently, an eight-year stint as a Park Ranger and historian at Richmond National Battlefield Park, where she helped co-organize and lead numerous special events for the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  She has extensive experience in historic site interpretation, education, historic preservation, and cultural resource management at a variety of museums and historic sites in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. She has delivered numerous interpretive tours, lectures, and scholarly papers at educational institutions and public venues across the country, and has written articles on a variety of Civil War and public history-related topics for numerous magazines, journals, and blogs.  Her most recent piece, a co-edited article entitled “From Women’s History to Gender History: Revamping Interpretation at Richmond National Battlefield Park,” was published in the June, 2016 issue of the scholarly journal, Civil War History. She is currently revising her dissertation manuscript, a cultural study of the wives and daughters of Confederate Richmond’s leading generals, politicians, and businessmen, for publication.

William Marvel is an independent scholar from northern New Hampshire who focuses primarily on mid-19th-century American History. He is the author of eighteen books, including most recently, Lincoln’s Mercenaries: Economic Motivation among Union Soldiers, which is  due for release by LSU Press in the early fall of 2018. Some of Marvel’s additional publications include: Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton (UNC Press, 2015), A Place Called Appomattox (UNC Press, 2000), and Andersonville: The Last Depot (UNC Press, 1994), for which he won a Lincoln Prize, the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award, and the Malcolm and Muriel Barrow Bell Award. He has also written a four-volume history of the Civil War that was published by Houghton Mifflin between 2006 and 2011. Mr. Marvel is currently working on a biography of Fitz John Porter.

Jennifer M. Murray is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise where she teaches a wide variety of courses in 19th and 20th century American history.  Her most recent publication, On A Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2013, was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2014Murray is also the author of The Civil War Begins, published by the U.S. Army’s Center of Military History in 2012.  She is currently working on a biography of George Gordon Meade, tentatively titled Meade at War.   Prior to her arrival at UVA-Wise, Murray worked as a seasonal interpretive park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park for nine summers (2002-2010).  She is a veteran speaker and tour guide at the Civil War Institute’s summer conference and is also a popular speaker on the Civil War lecture circuit.

Caroline W. Newhall is a Ph.D candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studies African-American prisoners of war.  Her dissertation, “’A War of Massacres and Confusions’: Black POWs of the American Civil War,” argues that black prisoners of war survived in greater numbers than is currently recognized and experienced diverse fates after capture. Her research brings to light first-hand accounts by black POWs regarding their experiences, as well as the role black POWs played in the breakdown of the prisoner exchange, revealing their place within the larger narrative of Civil War prisons and the war itself.  Caroline is the author of “Witnessing Racial Violence: Public Awareness and the Battle of Ft. Pillow,” an article published on The Journal of the Civil War Era’s blog, Muster, in July, 2016.

Deirdre Cooper Owens is an Assistant Professor of History at Queens College, CUNY where she teaches classes on slavery in the United States, the history of medicine, and women’s history.  She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Los Angeles where she wrote an award-winning dissertation. The recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships, she has worked as a Carter G. Woodson Postdoctoral Fellow in the Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia and has served as a Fellow at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Dr. Cooper Owens is the author of Medical Bondage: Race, Gender and the Origins of American Gynecology, which was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2017 as part of their Race in the Atlantic World Series.  She is currently working on a new project about mental illness and slavery in early America.  She has also published multiple essays, book chapters, and popular blog pieces on a range of issues pertaining to African American experiences.  Dr. Cooper Owens has been featured on national media outlets as an expert on issues of race, racism, and U.S. slavery.  She continues to lecture widely across the country.

Beth Parnicza is a park historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, in Fredericksburg, VA. Her research interests currently focus on the intersection of military and cultural history and the human aspects of war. She has published several articles on the Battle of Fredericksburg, strategies for discussing race, slavery and USCTs with visitors, and the relationship between civilians and military occupiers in immediate postwar Fredericksburg. Beth is currently researching and writing on the 1862 looting of Fredericksburg.

Steve T. Phan is a Park Ranger and historian at the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Prior to his arrival at CWDW, he worked as an intern and park guide at Richmond National Battlefield Park, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and Rock Creek Park. A military history scholar of the Civil War era, Steve’s research focuses on military occupation, operational command, fortifications, and the Western Theater during the Civil War.  He is the author of several articles about Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Civil War and is currently writing a guide book for the Civil War Defenses of Washington.  Steve is also continuing his work on an extended research project about the Union Army First Corps and the life of General John F. Reynolds.  He holds a Masters degree in American History, with a concentration in Public History.

James I. Robertson, Jr., is Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Tech.  In his 44 years there, his elective course on the Civil War attracted more than 22,000 students. He has written or edited over 40 books, including Stonewall Jackson: The Man, the Soldier, the Legend (Macmillan, 1997), which was used as the base for the 2003 Warner Bros.-Ted Turner mega-movie, "Gods and Generals."  His latest books, The Untold Civil War (2011) and After the Civil War (2015), were published by the National Geographic Society. Robertson is the father of Virginia's new state song, "Our Great Song."  In 2016, he received the Richard N. Current Award from the Lincoln Forum.  He is currently completing an encyclopedia of Robert E. Lee, which will be published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Brooks D. Simpson is ASU Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University. He specializes in nineteenth-century American history, with a focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction era, as well as American political and military history and the American presidency. He is the author of numerous books, including Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000); The Reconstruction Presidents (The University Press of Kansas, 1998); The Civil War in the East: Struggle, Stalemate, and Victory (Praeger, 2011); and, most recently, Reconstruction: Voices from America’s First Great Struggle for Racial Equality (Library of America, 2018).  He is currently working on the second volume of his biography of Ulysses S. Grant, entitled Ulysses S. Grant: The Fruits of Victory, 1865-1885.

Christopher Stowe is Professor of Military History and the head of the War Studies Department at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA.  His areas of scholarly interest include U.S. military history, the American Civil War and Reconstruction, gender and the military, and antebellum America. He has published numerous book reviews and articles in Civil War History,Columbiad: A Quarterly Review of the War Between the States, and the national newspaper, USA Today.  Chris also contributed an essay to Ethan Rafuse and Kenneth Noe’s edited volume, Corps Commanders in Blue: Union Major Generals in the Civil War (LSU Press, 2014).  He is currently finishing up work on his first full-length book, George Gordon Meade: A Nineteenth-Century Life (Kent State University Press).  In 2016, the United States Army Historical Foundation nominated his work on George Meade and military masculinity for its Distinguished Writing Award.  Chris is also the recipient of the Department of the Army’s 2014 Superior Civilian Service Award and the 2011 Commander’s Award for Civilian Service.  He currently serves on the editorial board for Marine Corps University Journal.

Susannah J. Ural is Professor of History and Co-Director of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi. A military historian and scholar of war and society, Ural’s work focuses on the experiences of soldiers and families in the U.S. Civil War era. She is the author of several books, including Don’t Hurry Me Down to Hades: The Civil War in the Words of Those Who Lives It (Osprey Publishing, 2013) and most recently, Hood’s Texas Brigade: The Soldiers and Families of the Confederacy's Most Celebrated Unit (LSU Press, November, 2017). Ural serves as President of the Mississippi Historical Society and as chair of the editorial board of The Journal of Military History.  She and her students are currently completing a study of Beauvoir, Mississippi’s Confederate Home for veterans, wives, and widows.  Ural’s next project will focus on Mississippi in the Civil War era.

Daniel J. Vermilya is an Education Ranger at Eisenhower National Historic Site. He also has previously worked at Gettysburg National Military Park, Antietam National Battlefield, and Monocacy National Battlefield, and has performed volunteer work for the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. In 2012, Daniel was awarded the first Joseph L. Harsh Memorial Scholar Award by the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. He is the author of several books on the American Civil War, including The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014), James Garfield and the Civil War: For Ohio and the Union (History Press, 2015), and That Field of Blood: The Battle of Antietam (Savas Beatie, 2017).

Elizabeth R. Varon is Associate Director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History and Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia.  A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, Varon is the author of We Mean to be Counted:  White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia (UNC Press, 1998); Southern Lady, Yankee Spy:  The True Story of  Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent  in the Heart of the Confederacy (Oxford University Press, 2003); Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 (UNC Press, 2008); and Appomattox:  Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2013).  Southern Lady, Yankee Spy won three book awards and was named one of the “Five Best” books on the “Civil War away from the battlefield” in the Wall Street Journal.  Appomattox won the 2014 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction, the 2014 Dan and Marilyn Laney Prize for Civil War History from the Austin Civil War Roundtable, and the 2014 Eugene Feit Award in Civil War Studies from the New York Military Affairs Symposium.  Appomattox was also named one of Civil War Monitor’s “Best Books of 2014” and one of National Public Radio’s “Six Civil War Books to Read Now.”  Varon’s public presentations include book talks at the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield, at Gettysburg’s Civil War Institute, and on C-Span’s Book TV. Her next book, Armies of Deliverance:  A New History of the Civil War, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2018.

Angela M. Zombek is Assistant Professor of History at UNC-Wilmington. She is the author of numerous articles and essays, including "Paternalism and Imprisonment at Castle Thunder: Reinforcing Gender Norms in the Confederate Capital," which appeared in the scholarly journal, Civil WarHistory in September of 2017; "Citizenship - Compulsory or Convenient: Federal Officials, Confederate Prisoners, and the Oath of Allegiance,” in Paul J. Quigley’s edited volume, The American Civil War and the Transformation of Citizenship, (LSU Press, forthcoming, Summer 2018); and “Catholics in Captivity: Priests, Prisoners, and the Living Faith in Civil War Military Prisons,” in Michael P. Gray’s edited volume, Civil War Prisons II, (forthcoming from Kent State University Press).  Her first book, Penitentiaries, Punishment, and Military Prisons: Familiar Responses to an Extraordinary Crisis during the American Civil War, is forthcoming from Kent State University Press in June, 2018.  Zombek's current research focuses on the Civil War's impact on the Florida Gulf Coast and Key West. She has presented some of her research on Unionism in Civil War Era Tampa Bay, and is currently researching prisoners of war at Fort Taylor (Key West), and Key West under martial law. 

June 17, 2012.Category: Civil War Term Papers

In my previous blog post How NOT to write a term paper on the Civil WarI suggested that you narrow the focus of your Civil War term paper in order to have a topic that is more manageable.  In the next several blog posts I will suggest manageable Civil War term paper topics that you can explore and write about.  The topic “Causes of the American Civil War” is an interesting one that is highly debated and has a lot of readily available material available on the web.

Generally the causes of the Civil War can be broken down into economic, political, and social/cultural.  Since the issue of slavery spans all three of these categories, it is widely seen as the primary cause of the war.  However, it is certainly not the ONLY cause.

The economies of the northern and southern states were quite different because the North was much more of a manufacturing-based economy and the South was an agriculturally-based economy.  In the South, cotton was “king,” and its production and export was the South’s primary cash crop.  Cheap cotton required cheap labor, and slaves were essential in its production.  The North’s economy was more diverse, based on heavy industry such as steel production, light industry such as textile production, and agricultural products such as corn.  These different economies resulted in conflict over tariffs and trade agreements in congress.

Politically there had been a relative “balance of influence” in congress between the North and South ever since the American Revolution.  This was true, in spite of the fact that approximately 70 percent of the population was from northern states.  The South’s political influence was disproportionately high because of several factors.  Among them is the fact that the Constitution had awarded the South additional representation in congress because of the slaves—a slave counted as 3/5 of a person (even though the slaves had no right to vote).  Also, the South had produced a large number of influential statesmen, such as Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Clay.  But if the western territories had limits placed on them regarding the introduction of slavery (as had been done by the Missouri Compromise of 1820), the South would eventually lose its influence and the slavery’s legal status could be ended.  So when the question of allowing the extension of slavery into the new territories came up with the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, both southern and northern politicians took an intense interest in it.

Culturally, the North and South differed tremendously.  The South, with its agrarian economy based on slavery and its absence of significant industry and rail transportation, had more of a homogeneous, slower paced society whose political leaders were frequently from the wealthy planter class.  Life in the North was more cosmopolitan and faster-paced, due to its more diverse economy, more robust transportation system, and more modern communication infrastructure.  Political leaders in the North had broader interests, having come from more diverse economic backgrounds and social classes than their counterparts in the South.

In the mid-1850’s the Republican Party formed, coalescing primarily around the anti-slavery cause.  Nationally known northern leaders such as William H. Seward and regionally-known leaders such as Abraham Lincoln became united around the cause of halting the expansion of slavery into the new territories.  They were joined by vocal abolitionists such as the famous preacher William Lloyd Garrison who called not only for the halt of the expansion of slavery, but for its immediate abolishment everywhere.

This is but a brief review of the many social, cultural, economic and political issues that resulted in the American Civil War.  To continue research on the subject of the causes of the American Civil War, go to Great American History’sCauses of the Civil War: A Balanced Answer, The Fire Eaters, and Outline of the Civil Warweb pages.


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