Mason to Host Civil War Conference

By Michele McDonald

Civil War logoWhile Civil War battlefields literally are close to home for many Virginians, an upcoming conference will look at the conflict’s international impact on global trade, social issues and rebellions in other countries.

Chaired by George Mason University’s Provost Peter Stearns, “The American Civil War in a Global Perspective” plans to explore those issues and more on May 31, 2014, at the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax Campus.

“Mason is delighted to be participating in the sesquicentennial commemorations,” says Stearns, who is also a professor of history. “The chance to focus on the international dimensions of the Civil War opens some important and unexpected opportunities for new interpretations. We look forward to the discussions.”

The program is the sixth installment in the popular annual Signature Conference series sponsored by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

The Civil War was an intense regional struggle, but it was also an international event in many ways. Considering it from this standpoint provides a number of unexpected connections between the American crisis and the wider world, while shedding new light on the war itself.

The conference will juxtapose the Civil War with other internal conflicts during the same period — the national unifications in Europe, the struggles over identity in Japan, and rebellions in China and in India. Each case has distinctive features, which comparison helps to highlight, but some common issues provide fresh insights into the American experience.

Historians of international acclaim will discuss the war’s wider impacts in areas ranging from the global cotton trade to international abolition efforts, from changes in the future of military operations to the implications of the Civil War as one of the first wars fought in an industrial age.

The registration fee is $15 (conference only) or $25 (conference and lunch). Advance registration will be open until May 1 or when capacity is reached. For more information and online registration, visit or call 804-786-3591.

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission was created by the General Assembly to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Virginia. In addition to the Signature Conference series, the commission sponsors programs that include the award-winning Civil War 150 HistoryMobile exhibit, a major gallery exhibition curated in partnership with the Virginia Historical Society, a statewide document digitization program, an Emmy-nominated documentary and much more.