John C. Calhoun and the Civil War | Newberry

John C. Calhoun and the Civil War

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

9:30 am to 12:30 pm

The Newberry

Dr. Robert Elder, Valparaiso University
Newberry Teachers' Consortium

John C. Calhoun remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. Variously revered and reviled in the century and a half since his death in 1850, the two-time vice-president and U.S. Senator from South Carolina is often attributed with sowing the seeds for a Civil War he didn’t live to see due to his defense of states’ rights and the doctrine of nullification. Moreover, Calhoun’s famous defense of the institution of slavery as a “positive good,” as he called it in a speech on the Senate floor in 1837, is one of the best examples of the debates over slavery that led to the Civil War and one of the clearest reminders of the history of racial oppression in our nation’s past. This seminar will offer an up-to-date account of Calhoun in the context of recent scholarship on slavery, nationalism, and the Civil War. Participants will read and discuss some of Calhoun’s writings as we try to understand how to think about a figure the historian David Potter once called “the most majestic champion of error since Milton’s Satan.”

Cost and Registration Information 

Newberry Teachers’ Consortium members may register for this seminar through their designated membership contact as space permits. Non-member educators may register for this seminar by purchasing an individual membership at the time of registration. Registration for all NTC seminars opens Wednesday, September 6, 2017. For more information about NTC membership, please contact Charlotte Ross, Teacher Programs Manager, at

The seminar will be followed by a catered lunch. Registrants should RSVP for lunch to assist Teacher Programs staff in reducing waste.

A link to the assigned pre-readings for this seminar will be distributed to participants via email.

If you believe you are registered for this seminar but have not received an email confirmation or reminder, please contact Teacher Programs staff.