The American Civil War Museum presents our 18th Annual Symposium:

February 18, 2023

The American Civil War forever altered the course of the nation. From abolition through Reconstruction, join us for a look into the causes, course, and consequences of the War as we kick-off our expansive initiative “The Civil War & Remaking America”. The 2023 Symposium will provide an overview of why the War was fought and what followed.
presented as part of our continuing partnership with
The John L. Nau Center for Civil War Studies at the University of Virginia.

Supported by Dominion Energy


The American Civil War Museum 2023 Symposium, The Civil War & Remaking America will be held at Historic Tredegar. We’re utilizing the Foundry building on the ACWM Tredegar campus as the lecture hall for this event. The Museum is just a few feet away and symposium attendees will be given free general admission to the museum during the Symposium weekend (2/17-2/18). We hope that you will join us for our 18th annual symposium.


Event Information


There will be FREE parking available for this event in our museum parking lot. ACWM Staff will be on hand to answer any questions.


Doors will open for check-in & registration will begin in The Foundry at 8:45am – 9:30am. If you registered before February 13th, 2023, you will receive a lunch ticket for your boxed lunch.


Books by Symposium speakers will be available for purchase, with designated book-signing times after each presentation. The books are also available through the online Symposium Bookstore on our website.

Ticket Options

Symposium registration includes boxed lunch.
Tickets purchased after the end of the day on February 13th will not include boxed lunch.
Friday Evening Reception with the Symposium speakers is 5:30pm-7:00pm.
Friday Collections Tours are under ‘Add-On’ at the EventBrite Checkout
(Limited Capacity)
Saturday Livestream for remote viewing of the Symposium: $35
(The livestream will begin after check-in has concluded at 9:30am Eastern Standard Time)

ACWM Members
(With promo code at checkout)

$50 Saturday Symposium
$90 Symposium + Friday Evening Reception

Non-ACWM Members

$75 Saturday Symposium
$115 Symposium + Friday Evening Reception

Students & Teachers
(With promo code at checkout)

$25 Saturday Symposium
$65 Symposium + Friday Evening Reception

18th Annual Symposium
February 18, 2023

8:45 Am – 9:30 am Doors open for Check-in

Livestream of the event will begin at 9:30am

9:30 am – 9:40 am Opening Remarks

Dr. Rob Havers, President and CEO, American Civil War Museum

9:45 am – 10:45 am
“The Abolitionist Origins of Civil War Constitutionalism”

Dr. Manisha Sinha
James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History
University of Connecticut

“The Abolitionist Origins of Civil War Constitutionalism”

The Civil War remade the United States Constitution leading many historians to call it the Second American Revolution or the Second Founding. However, few Americans are aware that this process of constitutional change began with the abolitionist debate over the nature of the Constitution and its relationship to slavery. This talk will recapitulate that debate and trace the roots of the transformation of the Constitution with emancipation and the institution of black citizenship.

10:45 am – 11:10 am break

11:10 am – 12:10 pm
“The Cultural Origins of the Civil War”

Dr. Aaron Sheehan-Dean
Fred C. Frey Professor,
Louisiana State University

“The Cultural Origins of the Civil War”

Connecting themselves to the Royalists, who defended Charles I, Southerners embraced a world of hierarchy and order; while Northerners, especially New Englanders, took pride in carrying on the original Puritan legacy in their efforts to build a new Jerusalem. This talk will explore how historical memory provided a foundation for both white Southerners and Northerners to craft sectional identities, resulting in division and, eventually, Civil War.

12:10 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
“When Americans could not escape history: Abraham Lincoln and the new birth of freedom

Dr. Andrew Lang
Associate Professor
Mississippi State University

“When Americans Could Not Escape History: Abraham Lincoln and the New Birth of Freedom

Unlike some, Lincoln never considered his nation divinely ordained and placed on an inevitable path of destiny, instead, he used the advent of disunion and civil war to author an enduring narrative of national life. When he spoke at Gettysburg of a “new birth of freedom,” Lincoln explored the loyal citizenry’s sovereign reason and moral sense to reorient their republic not forward in time but rather back to its natural origins.

2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Break

2:20 pm – 3:20 pm
“Reconstruction: When did it end?”

Dr. Kate Masur
Professor of History, Board of Visitors Professor
Northwestern University

“Reconstruction: When did it end?”

The conventional narrative is that Reconstruction ended in 1877, but recent scholarship suggests that the period continued to the end of the 1890s. Why are people talking about this issue, and what is gained and lost in the new vision of a “long” Reconstruction? Kate Masur will continue the discussion of how the Civil War remade America by exploring how we think about Reconstruction and its endpoints.

3:20 pm – 3:40 pm Break

3:40 pm – 4:40 pm
Panel Discussion:
“Why the civil war was fought and how it remade America”

“Why the Civil War was fought and how it Remade America”

Moderated by Dr. Caroline Janney, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War; Director, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History – This conversation between the Symposium panelists will tie together the themes articulated throughout the day.

4:40 pm – 5:00 pm Closing remarks

Dr. Rob Havers, President and CEO, American Civil War Museum