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The American Civil War and Reconstruction


The American Civil War was the worst political crisis and most bloody military conflict in the history of the United States. Although the North crushed the Confederacy, its post-war Reconstruction policy was a costly political failure that consigned the freed slaves to second-class citizenship. This course examines the military course of the Civil War, its effects upon civilians, and the internal politics of the Union and the Confederacy. The emancipation of the slaves, and the role of Abraham Lincoln in that process, forms an important topic. We then examine the goals of Reconstruction, black political empowerment in the South, and southern white resistance to racial equality leading to the defeat of the Republican Party. The seminar also considers how the Civil War and Reconstruction have been depicted in film, literature, and popular culture, and how different generations have interpreted the meaning of these conflicts.


Semester II, see timetables


Seminar; attendance is compulsory ( zie studiereglement Instituut voor Geschiedenis, art 2).


To gain an understanding of the main historiographical problems of the Civil War and Reconstruction through study of secondary literature and primary sources. The development of research and writing skills through a study of relevant literature on a chosen topic. The development of presentational skills by means of an oral report.


  • James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Penguin).

  • Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction (Penguin).


  • Long essay (5.000 words) to be submiitted by 31 May (80%)

  • Seminar presentation (20%)


Prof. dr. A. Fairclough,


Yes. Gives access to syllabus, bibliography, documentary sources, and additional texts.

Aanmeldingen Cursussen, Werkgroepen en Tentamens

Exchange students can enrol via U-Twist for lecture courses.

Lecture courses

  • Enrolment is possible from1 July to 1 September for lecture courses in the first semester.

  • Enrolment is possible from 1 December to 1 February for lecture courses in the second semester.
    Exchange students can enrol via email ( for seminars.


  • Enrolment is possible from 1 July to 15 August for seminars in the first semester.

  • Enrolment is possible from 1 December to 15 January for seminars in the second semester.