Annual Signature Conference

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2015 Signature Conference
"Causes Won and Lost: The End of the Civil War"

University of Virginia
Old Cabell Hall
Charlottesville, VA 22904
Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gary W. Gallagher and Elizabeth R. Varon
Conference Chairs

The capstone event in the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission’s Signature Conference series brings together leading historians to discuss the Civil War’s dramatic closing scenes, its turbulent aftermath, and its long-term legacy in American life.  

Panel I: Surrenders and the Assassination

Panelists: Elizabeth Varon, Harold Holzer, Elizabeth Leonard, and James McPherson

Panelists will survey the surrenders of the Confederate armies, take up the controversial issues of why the Confederacy succumbed and the Union triumphed, and assess how Lincoln’s presidency and his assassination shaped the peace.  

Panel II: The Lost Cause

Panelists: Gary Gallagher, Ed Ayers, John Coski, and Caroline Janney

Discussions will trace the origins of the pro-Confederate “Lost Cause” understanding of the war, examining its reverberations in postwar politics and its potent role in shaping popular memory. 

Panel III: The Union Cause

Panelists: Gary Gallagher, Matthew Gallman, John Neff, and Joan Waugh

Panelists will explore the countervailing understandings of the Union Cause, which represented the dominant meaning of the war among Northern soldiers and civilians, and address the postwar efforts of Northerners to enshrine their vision of a righteous Union in American politics and culture.

Panel IV: African American Memory

Panelists: Elizabeth Varon, Barbara Gannon, W. Fitzhugh Brundage, and Thavolia Glymph

The final panel will consider African American interpretations and memory of the war, elucidating the experiences of emancipated slaves, of U.S.C.T. soldiers, and of prominent political leaders such as Frederick Douglass and W.E.B. Du Bois. 

This wide-ranging conference will serve as an occasion for scholars and the public to join in reflecting on what we have learned collectively during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

2015 Signature Conference Speakers

Saturday, April 18

7:00 AM     Doors open - Old Cabell Hall

8:45 AM     Welcome

9:00 AM     Panel I: Surrenders and the Assassination

Elizabeth R. Varon, Moderator
Harold Holzer
Elizabeth D. Leonard
James M. McPherson


                   Panel II: The Lost Cause

Gary W. Gallagher, Moderator
Edward L. Ayers
John M. Coski
Caroline E. Janney


                   Question and Answer session with morning panelists

Noon          Lunch

1:30 PM     Panel III: The Union Cause

Gary W. Gallagher, Moderator
J. Matthew Gallman
John R. Neff
Joan Waugh


                    Panel IV: African American Memory

Elizabeth R. Varon, Moderator
Barbara Gannon
Thavolia Glymph
W. Fitzhugh Brundage


                     Question and Answer session with afternoon panelists

4:30 PM       Meet and Greet/Book Signing