Panel Five: The Radicalization of Reconstruction

MM-posterOn May 20-21, 2016, the University of Memphis will host“Memories of a Massacre: Memphis in 1866, a Symposium Exploring Slavery, Emancipation, and Reconstruction.”  The culmination of a semester-long series of lectures, workshops, discussions, and book talks, this symposium will feature historians and scholars from across the country, including Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian of the National Park Service.  Together, their presentations and the ensuing discussions will pry open what has for 150-years been the carefully concealed history of Reconstruction, its legacies, and the significant role that Memphis played in both. Please join us as we reflect collectively on a wave of terror that rocked a city and changed a nation.

Below is the fifth of our six panels.

First Panel 

Second Panel

Third Panel

Fourth Panel

May 21, 2016


savilleJulie Saville, University of Chicago, “Looking Forward: Reconstruction and the Black Organizing Tradition after Slavery”

Julie Saville’s research and teaching are focused on plantation societies of the southern United States and regions of the Caribbean from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. She is especially interested in how broad historical changes during the era of trans-Atlantic slave emancipations are related to daily life, the social relations of labor, and popular forms of political expression.

embertonphotoCarole Emberton, SUNY-Buffalo, “’The Violent Bear It Away’: White Responses to Black Political Mobilization during Reconstruction” Twitter Handle: @CaroleEmberton

Dr. Carole Emberton’s research focuses on the Civil War era, broadly considered. Thematically, she is interested in how violence shapes our social, political, and cultural worlds both past and present. Her first book, Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War explores how the violence of a protracted civil war shaped the meaning of freedom and citizenship in the new South. She traces the competing meanings that “redemption” held for Americans as they tried to come to terms with the war and the changing social landscape. While some imagined redemption from the brutality of slavery and war, others—like the infamous Ku Klux Klan—sought political and racial redemption for their losses through violence. Beyond Redemption merges studies of race and American manhood with an analysis of post-Civil War American politics to offer unconventional and challenging insight into the violence of Reconstruction.

tim huebnerTimothy S. Huebner, Rhodes College, “Constitutionalism and Violence in the Era of Reconstruction”

Dr. Timothy S. Huebner’s research interests include the southern judiciary, the American law of slavery, and the relationship between culture and constitutionalism. His first book, The Southern Judicial Tradition: State Judges and Sectional Distinctiveness, 1790-1890, (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1999) explored the impact of southern culture on the judicial decisions of six of the region’s leading nineteenth-century judges. He concluded that southern jurists exhibited both political sectionalism and legal nationalism—that they felt the pressure to conform to southern values at the same time that they participated in an emerging national legal culture.

His second book, The Taney Court: Justices, Ruling, and Legacy (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2003) appeared as part of a series of reference works on the history of the United States Supreme Court. The book examines the justices, major opinions, and overall legacy of the Supreme Court under Roger B. Taney, the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision. The book also started him on the path to writing about the history of the Supreme Court.

His third book, Major Problems in American Constitutional History, second ed. (2010) was a co-edited reader that combines excerpts of leading scholarly essays with classic primary documents. Part of the Major Problems in American History Series, this text is used in constitutional history courses throughout the United States. He co-edited this book with my former graduate mentor, Kermit L. Hall, who had begun work on the project before his untimely death in 2006

His new book, which will appear in June 2016 from University Press of Kansas, is a narrative history of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. Titled Liberty and Union: The Civil War Era and American Constitutionalism, the book is about the relationship between the Civil War generation and the founding generation. It integrates political, military, and social developments into an epic narrative interwoven with the thread of constitutionalism—to show how all Americans engaged the nation’s heritage of liberty and constitutional government.

antionetteModerator: Antoinette Van Zelm, Assistant Director for the Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University

Dr. Antoinette G. van Zelm provides research, writing, and editing assistance to organizations that partner with the Center. She manages the collaborative partnerships between the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and partners throughout the state. Dr. van Zelm works with the CHP’s graduate research assistants and edits the Center’s blog, Southern Rambles. She also works on Civil War-related materials for the Teaching with Primary Sources-Middle Tennessee State University program.

Dr. van Zelm received her Ph.D. in American History from the College of William & Mary, completing her dissertation on the transition from slavery to freedom among women in Virginia during and after the Civil War. She is active in the Southern Association for Women Historians (SAWH). She has written about the transition from slavery to freedom in both Tennessee and Virginia in several publications and is now researching Tennessee women’s involvement in the Woman’s Relief Corps, the women’s auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic.

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