2017 Annual Conference

Disunion in Civil War America: Parallels for Today?

Friday and Saturday, November 3-4, 2017

Luce Hall Auditorium, MacMillan Center, Yale University

Today, American political culture is in need of historical grounding. The analysis and anxiety occurring in the wake of the November 2016 U.S. presidential election have prompted a search for historical models and parallels to help understand the contemporary moment of political upheaval, white supremacy, crises over immigrants and refugees, and possible realignments of political parties. For its 19th annual conference in November 2017, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition will examine the 1840s and 1850s as an earlier example of deep currents of fear and disorder within U.S. political culture and history. The conference will consider contemporary experiences of polarization in the United States, compared with what happened to the American political party system, political culture, realignment, voter turnout and suppression, and coalitions, during the two decades before the Civil War. Panelists will include historians, political scientists, journalists, and legal scholars, as we seek to link past and present in order to address big questions about history for a broad public. This conference is being organized in collaboration with Professor James Oakes of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and Dr. Joe Murphy, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the New-York Historical Society.