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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.

“No single event in American history generates as much passion—or as much distortion—as the Civil War. Providing rich historical analysis as well as practical suggestions for presenting it, this volume will help teachers illuminate the complexities of a conflict that continues to unite, divide and inspire us.” —Jonathan Zimmerman, University of Pennsylvania

“Like all history, the Civil War ‘is never dead. It’s not even past.’ The authors in this volume highlight the many ways the Civil War continues to loom large in our national memory and offer thoughtful suggestions for how teachers might help their students critically examine the relationship between the past and present. As this volume persuasively argues—only by understanding our past can we collectively envision our future.” —Abby Reisman, University of Pennsylvania