The Civil 
War Institute

300 North Washington Street
Campus box 435
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: 717.337.6590

2018 Fortenbaugh Speaker

George C. Rable is Professor Emeritus and formerly the Charles G. Summersell Chair in Southern History at the University of Alabama. Rable’s talk, “Fighting for Reunion:  Dilemmas of Hatred and Vengeance,” will examine a central paradox for supporters of the Union during the Civil War. Any war, including a civil war, inevitably generates hatred of the enemy and calls for vengeance. But reunion (which remained the most important northern war aim) also made intense hatred of the Confederates problematic. During the war, northerners debated the nature and limits of hatred and vengeance. This at times tamped down expressions of hatred toward the “rebels” even as many northerners expressed considerable partisan and racial hostility.

Rable headshot

Born in Lima, Ohio, in 1950, he received his B.A from Bluffton College (1972), his M.A from Louisiana State University (1973), and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University (1978) where he studied under T. Harry Williams. He taught at Anderson University in Indiana from 1979-1998. From 2004-2008, he served as the President of the Society of Civil War Historians. His books include: God’s Almost Chosen Peoples:  A Religious History of the American Civil War  (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), which won the 2011 Jefferson Davis Award and was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title; Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), which won the Lincoln Prize, the Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award in American Military History, the Jefferson Davis Award, the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award, and was a History Book Club selection; The Confederate Republic:  A Revolution Against Politics (University of North Carolina Press, 1994), which was a History Book Club selection; Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism (University of Illinois Press, 1989), which won the Julia Cherry Spruill Prize and the Jefferson Davis Award; and But There Was No Peace:  The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction (University of Georgia Press, 1984).

His most recent book is Damn Yankees!  Demonization and Defiance in the Confederate South (Louisiana State University Press, 2015), which won the James I. Robertson, Jr. Literary Prize. He is currently working on a book on the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan.

Interested in “reading up” before the lecture? Rable suggests the following works:

  • William A. Blair, With Malice Toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era
  • Caroline E. Janney, Remember the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation
  • Randall C. Jimerson, The Private Civil War: Popular Thought during the Sectional Conflict
  • Jason Phillips, Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility
  • George C. Rable, Damn Yankees! Demonization and the Defiance in the Confederate South
  • Jennifer L. Weber, Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North

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300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: (717) 337-6300