Slavery, Emancipation and Civil War in the USA

Ref: C3847130

This course will focus on a defining period of American history, which is vital to understanding many of the issues shaping US politics and culture today. It has at its core the rise, fall and legacy of slavery in the 'land of the free'. We will look at the paradox of how Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner like many of the Founding Fathers, could write the immortal lines 'all men are created equal', and how this conundrum almost came to tear apart the nation the Founders had created. Was that nation then 'reborn' out of the trauma and suffering of the Civil War? We will use contemporary source material such as speeches, letters, photographs and political cartoons to understand the perspective of iconic figures such as Lincoln as well as the 'forgotten' voices of marginalised groups such as women, ordinary soldiers and enslaved people. We will discuss the contributions of recent scholars, debating the issues they have raised to understand a variety of different viewpoints.

Course aim

This course will provide an overview of the American Civil War era from a variety of different perspectives, with the issue of slavery at its core.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Recognise how and why the original American Constitution protected and condoned slavery.
  • Identify the role which slavery played in American political, cultural and economic life before the Civil War
  • Form an evidence-based opinion as to the causes of the American Civil War.
  • Explain the course of the war, the Union victory and the process by which slavery was officially ended.
  • Form an evidence-based opinion as to whether slavery was truly ended.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

A pen and paper might be helpful to have with you. You will be given recommended links for further reading or listening.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Slavery, Emancipation and Civil War in the USA

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is only available as part of this programme.

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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