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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Last Best Hope: International Lives of the American Civil War

headshot of Abrahim Lincoln

David Quigley
Boston College


Date: Thursday, April 28, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road


Abstract: The American Civil War would appear, at first glance, a most difficult fit in the current historiographical project of internationalizing American history. After all, few periods in our history seem so inward-looking as the 1860's. But Dean Quigley argues that the nation's most inwardly-directed event actually inaugurated the modern era of the United States' relationship with the rest of the world. The American experience of brutal modern warfare, mass emancipation of slaves and constitutional revisions that followed had a major impact on intellectual and ideological discourses around the 19th century world. As a result, the American Civil War stands as a key frame for modern understandings of nationalism, liberalism, race and internationalism.

headshot of David Quigley

David Quigley is Dean of The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History at Boston College. He teaches a wide range of courses on the nineteenth-century United States and on political and urban history. His research has explored the history of race and democracy between the American Revolution and Reconstruction in the local political cultures of New York. He is completing a new synthetic project, Last, Best Hope: International Lives of the American Civil War (Hill & Wang, forthcoming) as well as editing A Companion to American Urban History (Blackwell, forthcoming) and Busing in Boston: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford, forthcoming). His most recent books include Second Founding: New York City, Reconstruction, and the Making of American Democracy (Hill and Wang, 2004) and Jim Crow New York: A Documentary Reader on Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877, co-authored with David N. Gellman (New York University Press, 2003). Dean Quigley received his Ph.D. from NYU in History.


In the News

In A Conflict’s Acoustic Shadows Ken Burns recently reflected on the relevance of the American Civil War for us today (New York Times, 4/11/11). On April 28, David Quigley spoke about how the America Civil War framed our understanding of America and what it meant for the rest of the world. Click here to listen to audio of his talk.