Past Symposia

Unifying America: The Civil War and the American West in One Frame

A Joint Symposium Sponsored by
 The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and
The Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center

Participants met in Fall 2013 at Southern Methodist University's SMU-inTaos campus  to draft their essays and then met again in the spring on February 8, 2014 in Los Angeles.  Co-organized by Adam Arenson of the University of Texas at El Paso and Andrew R. Graybill of SMU, the symposium was co-sponsored with The Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center in conjunction with their exhibit on the same subject to open in April 2015. 

The American Civil War and the expansion into western and southwestern territories shaped the identity of the United States in the nineteenth century, but they are often considered separately. These symposia and the resulting edited volume consider how intertwined these events were, as both defined the national boundaries, the role of free and unfree labor in the national economy, and the interplay of race, religion, and citizenship during Reconstruction. It considers the military as well as political efforts of Native Americans, African Americans, and others, especially west of the Mississippi River and along the borders with Mexico and Canada. The volume has a special focus on the Civil War in the desert Southwest, and considers the experience of the war from environmental, cultural, political, gender, and military-history perspectives. Participating scholars include Virginia Scharff, William Deverell, Martha Sandweiss, Steven Hahn, Stephen Kantrowitz, Gregory Downs, and Megan Kate Nelson, as well as emerging scholars in this growing field, Lance Blyth, Greg Downs, Nicholas Guyatt, James Jewell, Diane Mutti-Burke, Joshua Paddison and Fay Yarbrough. Unifying America will ensure that stories of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and American West must, from now own, be told in deep conversation with one another. 

Image: Battle of Glorieta Pass - Pigeon's Ranch, March 26, 1862 by Roy Andersen.  Courtesy of Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico.