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Princeton’s Civil War

Allen Guelzo, Humanities Council Senior Research Scholar

November 2, 2019 · 4:30 pm-6:00 pm · Nassau Hall

Humanities Council; James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions
Memorial Atrium
Civil War Memorial Atrium

Princeton University did not go to war when the American Civil War broke out in 1861, but a substantial number of its alumni and students did—as many as 600, of whom 86 died during the conflict. This figure will surprise those familiar with only the 62 Civil War alumni names appearing in the Memorial Atrium in Nassau Hall. (Even there, eight of those listed actually have no traceable involvement.) Still more surprising is the level of commitment in non-military ways, through service in politics. But most surprising of all is the unusual number of Princetonians whose connection to the Civil War ran through the Confederacy, rather than the Union.

Presenting the Civil War as experienced by Princeton University, Professor Allen C. Guelzo, the foremost expert on the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, will lead a tour through three sites: the Memorial Atrium in Nassau Hall; Clio Hall, which honored Jefferson Davis as well as Lincoln’s diplomatic representative to France; and the Special Collections Room in Firestone Library, which houses artifacts like the David Claypoole Johnston anti-Confederate lithograph series. Topics will include Princeton University’s place in the politics of Civil War America, the institution’s embarrassingly favorable connections to the slaveholding South and the Confederacy, incidents among students that finally established a Union identity for the school, the unusual history of the creation of the Memorial Atrium, and stories about individuals from Princeton University on and off the battlefield.

Tickets are limited and required for this free event. Those selected through the lottery will be notified on Monday, Oct. 28. Register for the lottery here.

This event is part of the Being Human Festival 2019 of the Humanities Council.

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