Dine-ins are a new feature of the CWI summer conference, and something we hope to offer for years to come. These will be small discussion groups which will meet during a regularly-scheduled meal time in the campus dining center. A handful of our speakers have volunteered to facilitate these dine-in groups, and will serve as discussion leaders. They have all selected a theme/topic as well as some brief readings that will be distributed prior to the conference. Each dine-in will contain no more than 10 people. Anyone is welcome to sign up for a dine-in, but due to space limitations, pre-registration is required and the seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
The dine-in topics for the 2014 Civil War Institute are as follows (check back often for additional topics!):
The most pivotal event of 1864 did not happen on the battlefield, but at the ballot box. Over dinner we will discuss what was at stake in the 1864 presidential election, as well as the mechanics of it all -- from party platforms and electioneering to the results of the contest between Lincoln and McClellan. How did Lincoln engineer his reelection, and what did McClellan's defeat really mean? How close did the Young Napoleon come to winning the White House?
Throughout the early months of 1864, African-American abolitionist Frederick Douglass traveled the North delivering a speech entitled "The Mission of the War." In it, Douglass defended emancipation and insisted that the Union must stand firm for freedom. But he also looked to the future, imagining a postwar Reconstruction that would transform the South as it reunited the nation. Douglass's speech offers a powerful evocation of the meaning of the Civil War and the promise of Reconstruction, as understood by the nation's foremost black activist. This session will focus on the speech and its author, situating both in their larger intellectual, cultural, and historical context.
Today some people remember General Robert E. Lee as the beau ideal of the honorable, southern soldier, a gallant knight committed to the laws of warfare. General Lee's views on guerrilla warfare seem to highlight his abhorrence for civilian casualties before and during the Civil War, but they also confirm his ultimate commitment to the Confederacy's central political goals of establishing a white Republic dominated by a strict social and military hierarchy. Our dine-in session will explore a few moments in Lee's career where he dealt with guerrilla war to place his larger views on warfare and the Confederacy in context.