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Professor Blight finishes his lecture series with a discussion of the legacies of the Civil War. Since the nineteenth century, Blight suggests, there have been three predominant strains of Civil War memory, which Blight defines as reconciliationist, white supremacist, and emancipationist. The war has retained a political currency throughout the yea…
 
Having dealt with the role of violence and the Supreme Court in bringing about the end of Reconstruction in his last lecture, Professor Blight now turns to the role of national electoral politics, focusing in particular on the off-year Congressional election of 1874 and the Presidential election of 1876. 1874 saw the return of the Democrats to majo…
 
This lecture focuses on the role of white southern terrorist violence in brining about the end of Reconstruction. Professor Blight begins with an account the Colfax Massacre. Colfax, Louisiana was the sight of the largest mass murder in U.S. history, when a white mob killed dozens of African Americans in the April of 1873. Two Supreme Court decisio…
 
This lecture opens with a discussion of the myriad moments at which historians have declared an "end" to Reconstruction, before shifting to the myth and reality of "Carpetbag rule" in the Reconstruction South. Popularized by Lost Cause apologists and biased historians, this myth suggests that the southern governments of the Reconstruction era were …
 
Professor Blight begins this lecture in Washington, where the passage of the first Reconstruction Act by Congressional Republicans radically altered the direction of Reconstruction. The Act invalidated the reconstituted Southern legislatures, establishing five military districts in the South and insisting upon black suffrage as a condition to readm…
 
Professor Blight continues his discussion of the political history of Reconstruction. The central figure in the early phase of Reconstruction was President Andrew Johnson. Under Johnson's stewardship, southern whites held constitutional conventions throughout 1865, drafting new constitutions that outlawed slavery but changed little else. When the R…
 
In this lecture, Professor Blight begins his engagement with Reconstruction. Reconstruction, Blight suggests, might best be understood as an extended referendum on the meaning of the Civil War. Even before the war's end, various constituencies in the North attempted to control the shape of the post-war Reconstruction of the South. In late 1863, Pre…
 
This lecture begins with a central, if often overlooked, turning point in the Civil War--the re-election of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Although the concerted efforts of northern Peace Democrats and a palpable war weariness among the electorate made Lincoln's victory uncertain, timely Union victories in Atlanta and Mobile in September of 1864 secured …
 
Professor Blight uses Herman Melville's poem "On the Slain Collegians" to introduce the horrifying slaughter of 1864. The architect of the strategy that would eventually lead to Union victory, but at a staggering human cost, was Ulysses S. Grant, brought East to assume control of all Union armies in 1864. Professor Blight narrates the campaigns of …
 
This lecture probes the reasons for confederate defeat and union victory. Professor Blight begins with an elucidation of the loss-of-will thesis, which suggests that it was a lack of conviction on the home front that assured confederate defeat, before offering another of other popular explanations for northern victory: industrial capacity, politica…
 
Professor Blight begins his lecture with a description of the sea change in Civil War scholarship heralded by the Social History revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Along with a focus on the experience of the common solider, women, and African Americans, a central component of this shift in scholarly emphasis was an increased interest in the effects…
 
This lecture focuses on the process of emancipation after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation, Professor Blight suggests, had four immediate effects: it made the Union army an army of emancipation; it encouraged slaves to strike against slavery; it committed the US to a policy of emancipation in the eye…
 
Professor Blight follows Robert E. Lee's army north into Maryland during the summer of 1862, an invasion that culminated in the Battle of Antietam, fought in September of 1862. In the wake of Antietam, Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a document that changed the meaning of the war forever. Professor Blight suggests …
 
Professor Blight lectures on the military history of the early part of the war. Beginning with events in the West, Blight describes the Union victories at Fort Donelson and Fort Henry, introduces Union General Ulysses S. Grant, and narrates the horrific battle of Shiloh, fought in April of 1862. Moving back East, the lecture describes the Union Gen…
 
Professor Blight discusses the expectations, advantages, and disadvantages with which North and South entered the Civil War. Both sides, he argues, expected and desired a short, contained conflict. The northern advantages enumerated in this lecture include industrial capability, governmental stability, and a strong navy. Confederate advantages incl…
 
After finishing with his survey of the manner in which historians have explained the coming of the Civil War, Professor Blight focuses on Fort Sumter. After months of political maneuvering, the Civil War began when Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, in the harbor outside Charleston, SC. The declaration of hostilities prompted four more states--Virg…
 
Professor Blight begins this lecture with an attempt to answer the question "why did the South secede in 1861?" Blight offers five possible answers to this question: preservation of slavery, "the fear thesis," southern nationalism, the "agrarian thesis," and the "honor thesis." After laying out the roots of secession, Blight focuses on the historic…
 
This lecture picks off where the previous one left off, with a discussion of the legacies of John Brown. The most important thing about John Brown's raid, Professor Blight argues, was not the event itself, but the way Americans engaged with it after the fact. Next, Professor Blight discusses the election of 1860, a four-way battle won by the Republ…
 
Professor Blight narrates the momentous events of 1857, 1858, and 1859. The lecture opens with an analysis of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. Next, Blight analyzes the Dred Scott decision and discusses what it meant for northerners--particularly African Americans--to live in "the land of the Dred Scott decision." The lecture then shifts…
 
Professor Blight continues his march through the political events of the 1850s. He continues his description of the aftermath of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, describing the guerilla war that reigned in the territory of Kansas for much of 1856. The lecture continues, describing the caning of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the US Senate a…
 
Professor Blight narrates some of the important political crises of the 1850s. The lecture begins with an account of the Compromise of 1850, the swan song of the great congressional triumvirate--Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun. The lecture then describes northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act passed as part of the Compromise,…
 
In this lecture, Professor Blight discusses some of the conflicts, controversies, and compromises that led up to the Civil War. After analyzing Frederick Douglass's 1852 Fourth of July speech and the inherent conflict between American slavery and American freedom, the lecture moves into a lengthy discussion of the war with Mexico in the 1840s. Prof…
 
Professor Blight offers an introduction to the course. He summarizes some of the course readings, and discusses the organization of the course. Professor Blight offers some thoughts on the nature of history and the study of history, before moving into a discussion of the reasons for Americans' enduring fascination with the Civil War. The reasons in…
 
Having finished with slavery and the pro-slavery argument, Professor Blight heads North today. The majority of the lecture deals with the rise of the Market Revolution in the North, in the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. Blight first describes the causes of the Market Revolution--the rise of capital, a transportation revolution--and then moves to its effe…
 
Professor Blight lectures on southern slavery. He makes a case for viewing the U.S. South as one of the five true "slave societies" in world history. He discusses the internal slave trade that moved thousands of slaves from the eastern seaboard to the cotton states of the Southwest between 1820 and 1860. Professor Blight then sketches the contents …
 
Professor Blight offers a number of approaches to the question of southern distinctiveness. The lecture offers a survey of that manner in which commentators--American, foreign, northern, and southern--have sought to make sense of the nature of southern society and southern history. The lecture analyzes the society and culture of the Old South, with…
 
Professor Blight offers an introduction to the course. He summarizes some of the course readings, and discusses the organization of the course. Professor Blight offers some thoughts on the nature of history and the study of history, before moving into a discussion of the reasons for Americans' enduring fascination with the Civil War. The reasons in…
 
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