From the Beginning, a War to End Slavery

March 11, 2013 | CUNY Lecture Series, Graduate Center

Graduate Center history professor James Oakes shatters a widespread belief that the Civil War was first a war to restore the Union and, only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. “Liberty and union, now and forever, were one and inseparable,” says Oakes. “That is what Lincoln and the Republicans believed.” Oakes, whose recent book, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, is a powerful history of emancipation, appeared at the Graduate Center as part of the Conversations series, along with Sean Wilentz, professor of history at Princeton University.