Apply  Give Now

2011 Archives

‘Why the Civil War Mattered’

Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Hahn to visit SMU April 12 for Stanton Sharp Lecture

Historian Steven Hahn
Steven Hahn

April 11, 2011

By Denise Gee
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) — April 12, 1861 marks the day the Civil War began with the first shots fired on Fort Sumter, S.C. Exactly 150 years later, SMU’s Clements Department of History will host Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn for a discussion of “Why the Civil War Mattered.”

Hahn will deliver the Stanton Sharp Lecture Tuesday, April 12, 2011. The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the lecture at 6:30 p.m. in SMU’s McCord Auditorium, Room 306, Dallas Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

How might America have looked had there been no Civil War — or if the war had ended differently? Hahn’s lecture will revisit these issues by reminding us of the power of slaveholders and slavery in antebellum America.

“The legacy of the Civil War and its aftermath is still unfolding in this nation. Issues of race remain current and contentious,” says Sherry L. Smith, professor and acting chair of SMU’s Clements Department of History. “Understanding this war – what was at stake and what changed as a result of it – is critical in coming to terms with race in America.”

Hahn is a specialist in 19th century American and African-American history, especially as it relates to the American South. He is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor in American History at the University of Pennsylvania. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. He also is an elected Fellow of the Society of American Historians.

His latest book, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration (Harvard University Press, 2005), won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize in American History and the Merle Curti Prize in Social History of the Organization of American Historians. Hahn also is the author of the prize-winning book The Roots of Southern Populism: Yeoman Farmers and the Transformation of the Georgia Upcountry, 1850-1890 (Oxford University Press, 1983).

The Stanton Sharp Lectures on the Civil War are sponsored by the Organization of American Historians and SMU’s Clements Department of History. The next lecture, “African Americans and the Struggle to Win British Public Opinion During the Civil War,” will be April 19. This event, presented by Vanderbilt University history professor Richard Blackett, will begin at the McCord Auditorium with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the lecture at 6:30 p.m.

Visitor parking for both events will be available in the parking garage at Ownby and Binkley ($1 per hour) or at SMU Blvd. and Airline ($5 per day). For more details, visit 214/768-2967 or email or visit



Find an Expert