Conference: The Antislavery Bulwark: The Antislavery Origins of the Civil War

Antislavery Bulwark Conference FlierIn two weeks the CUNY Graduate Center will be hosting an all-star conference “The Antislavery Bulwark: The Antislavery Origins of the Civil War.”[1] This conference, co-organized by the Graduate Center, Harvard University, and the New York Historical Society, seeks to trace origins of the antislavery political movement from the eighteenth century to its apotheosis in the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.

Or as the conference organizers describe their project:

“Bringing together the best new scholarship in the field, “The Antislavery Bulwark: The Antislavery Origins of the Civil War” points toward an important new way of thinking about the origins of the Civil War. The conference considers how the activities of antislavery Americans ultimately contributed to Southern secession and war. It places less emphasis on the radical abolitionist “vanguard” than on the broader antislavery movement, especially antislavery politics, stressing the common objects and premises of an often divided crusade. The larger intellectual goal is to reaffirm the strength and significance of antislavery politics in the early national and antebellum eras. Topics include the origins and significance of the Somerset case, the legal and political ramifications of the “first emancipation,” and antislavery politics in the new nation from the Missouri Crisis to the fugitive slave crisis of the 1850s and the election of 1860.”

What’s most interesting about “The Antislavery Bulwark” is its wonderful inclusion of veteran scholars, such as David Blight, James Oakes, and Sean Wilentz, with more junior scholars and graduate students, such as David Gary, John Blanton, and Sarah Levine-Gronningsater. This mix promises to truly represent the state of the field in antislavery studies at the moment. For those interested in attending, the full conference program can be found here.

The conference begins with a keynote by David Blight on Friday, October 17th at 6:30pm with the conference sessions kicking off the following morning at 9am. Seating is first come first serve, so if you’re in the greater New York area and are interested in attending make sure you show up early!

For questions about the conference please contact Joseph Murphy or check out the conference’s Facebook page.


[1] A bit of a disclaimer: the Graduate Center is my home institution but I am not involved in planning or organizing this event.


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