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Teaching the Causes of the American Civil War, 1850-1861


Edited By Michael E. Karpyn

The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865, killing nearly 700,000 Americans and costing the country untold millions of dollars. The events of this tragic war are so steeped in the collective memory of the United States and so taken for granted that it is sometimes difficult to take a step back and consider why such a tragic war occurred. To consider the series of events that led to this war are difficult and painful for students and teachers in American history classrooms. Classroom teachers must possess the appropriate pedagogical and historical resources to provide their students with an appropriate and meaningful examination of this challenging time period. Teaching the Causes of the American Civil War, 18501861 will attempt to provide these resources and teaching strategies to allow for the thoughtful inquiry, evaluation and assessment of this critical, complex and painful time period in American history.

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ERIK ALEXANDER is an Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he teaches courses on the 19th century United States, especially the Civil War and Reconstruction and Abraham Lincoln. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and is currently finishing a book on the history of the Northern Democratic Party during Reconstruction.

ELIZABETH BARROW earned her EdD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017 in Curriculum and Instruction. She earned her Masters of Arts in History at East Carolina University in 2005. Prior to her move to higher education, Dr. Barrow taught U.S. and World History at the secondary level for nine years. She joined the faculty of Georgia Southern University in the fall of 2017 where she currently teaches in the Middle Grades and Secondary Education Department. Her research interests include social studies teacher education and the influence of study abroad on teacher education.

JOHN H. BICKFORD is a former Mid-Prairie (Kalona, Iowa) teacher and a current Associate Professor of Social Studies/History Education in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Foundations at Eastern Illinois University (Charleston, Illinois). His BA in History, MA in Education, and PhD in Secondary Social Studies Education are all from the University of Iowa. He teaches and researches about the sources and strategies that facilitate students’ history literacy, historical thinking, and historical argumentation. He can be contacted at: or @SSHistoryEduc


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