The Newberry Library Colloquium

The Appomattox Effect: Searching for the End of War in the American Civil War and Beyond
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

4 pm

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

Michael Vorenberg, Associate Professor of History, Brown University

Asked when the American Civil War ended, most Americans would say: With Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. Yet few people at that moment thought that the war was over. The fact that most Americans 150 years later consider Appomattox the end of the conflict is one of many ways that memory has trumped history in the story of the Civil War. Just as important, an Appomattox effect is apparent in the way that Americans think of other wars. They assume, even in the face of facts that suggest otherwise, that wars have discrete, identifiable endpoints. This colloquium raises some of the issues associated with identifying the end of any U.S. war, especially the Civil War, and discusses some of the sources available at the Newberry for examining these issues.

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