Profile of Senior CWI Fellow Gabby Hornbeck

By Emily Weinick ‘13

“I came here for the history department and the conservatory, but I didn’t know much about the Civil War,” admitted CWI fellow Gabby Hornbeck. Four years later, Hornbeck has interned at two National Military Parks on Civil War battlefields, has reenacted in battles as a civilian and soldier with the Pennsylvania College Guard, and is actively involved with other Civil War groups on campus including the Civil War Club, the Civil War Theme House, and the Civil War Institute.
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Profile of Senior CWI Fellow Becky Oakes ’13

By Emily Weinick ’13

“It was the most nervous I’ve ever been. You can convince yourself you don’t know anything.” The first day working at any new place can be nerve-racking. But what if your job is to be the living spokesperson for a war fought more than 150 years ago? For Becky Oakes, an intern last summer at four Civil War battlefields in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the first day on the job proved to be a rewarding experience after she let the anxiety melt away. A family who traveled from Indiana to Fredericksburg had come to ask her about the battle, one in which their ancestors had fought. “Before I knew it, I was grabbing maps out from under the visitor’s desk and showing the family where their relatives would have been positioned. In that moment, I realized I could do this.”

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Event Review: “The Coming of War”

by Emily Weinick, ’13 On October 17th in Kline Theater, Dr. Allen C. Guelzo delivered ???The Coming of the War???, the first lecture in his four part series entitled ???A Walk Through the Civil War???. Dr. Guelzo guided the audience through the sequence o…

By Emily Weinick ’13

On October 17th in Kline Theater, Dr. Allen C. Guelzo delivered “The Coming of the War”, the first lecture in his four part series entitled “A Walk Through the Civil War”. Dr. Guelzo guided the audience through the sequence of events leading up to the Civil War. He told the story of the Industrial Revolution, slavery, territorial expansionism, political turmoil, and secession. He absolutely captivated the audience with his spellbinding speaking.  

Guelzo began his lecture at the turn of the nineteenth century by describing how the invention of steam-powered machines made the world a smaller place. In 1775, farmers ate what they grew, made their own clothes, and were unaware of the world outside of their farms and communities. However, by the 1780s, the Industrial Revolution began to replace human and animal power with steam powered machines. The steam engine promoted a globalized market, encouraging entrepreneurs to pursue business ventures. Thomas Jefferson initially resisted this new economic world. However, as Guelzo went on to say, Jefferson quickly changed his view on Industrialization with the invention of a machine that would change American industry: the cotton gin.

The invention of the cotton gin went hand-in-hand with the resurgence of slavery in America. In nineteenth century America there was plenty of work and not enough hands to do it.  Slavery was a quick fix to the problem. But, as Guelzo pointed out, slavery was an expensive proposition and paradoxical for many Northerners. Those who did not have the land or funds to support a host of slaves could not rely on slave labor and the institution of slavery smacked hard against the ideals of the Revolutionary War – independence from the tyranny of others. Many thought slavery would disappear as the land was becoming over tilled: large slave states like Virginia even saw a reduction in slaves. But, as Dr. Guelzo reminded us, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin. With Southern soil supporting the growth of cotton, soon 57% of all American exports would be slave-cultivated cotton. By mid-century, as Guelzo said, “slavery was expanding, not dying.”

With this resurgence in slavery, there was also an increase in opposition to it. The Missouri Compromise seemed to assuage Northerners fear of the expansion of slavery as it limited which states could hold slaves. However, the Compromise of 1850 changed this. Now settlers of the newly acquired Mexican territories would decide what type of state they wanted to be – slave or free. With this compromise, Guelzo pointed out two issues. For one, a decision on slavery would be delayed until settlers filled the territories.  More importantly, the idea of popular sovereignty was a precarious one. In the wake of the Compromise of 1850 the Republican Party was formed.

The 1860 election proved crucial and Lincoln’s election the catalyst for war. The secession of southern states led to a political crisis for the new president.  Guelzo indicated that neither Jefferson Davis nor Lincoln wanted war in the spring of 1861; however they each wanted different things. Davis wished for a peaceful secession, one in which the southern states were left alone. Lincoln wished for peace, but he also wanted to abide by the federal constitution and preserve the union.

Neither President got what they wished for. On April 12 of 1861, Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina was bombarded by the Confederates. The Fort symbolized a domination of the Union over the Confederacy and mocked their secession. Guelzo explained that Lincoln was forced to punish the Confederacy for their actions. His punishment came in the form of a hodgepodge army that invaded Virginia in the first battle of Bull Run. The equally disorganized Confederates managed to drive back the Union and they returned to Washington unsuccessful. Guelzo ended the lecture explaining that Bull Run did not convince Lincoln that war was futile, but that a new and organized army with an experienced general was necessary.

We will hear a continuation of Professor Guelzo’s “A Walk Through the Civil War” on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at Gettysburg College.

Event Review – Rebelling for the Promise of Revolution: Black Emancipation and the Civil War

Emily Weinick, ’13 On Saturday, September 22, at the Visitor???s Center in Gettysburg???s National Military park, Professor Scott Hancock delivered his lecture ???Rebelling for the Promise of Revolution: Black Emancipation and the Civil War???. Engaging t…

By Emily Weinick ’13

On Saturday, September 22, at the Visitor’s Center in Gettysburg’s National Military park, Professor Scott Hancock delivered his lecture “Rebelling for the Promise of Revolution: Black Emancipation and the Civil War”. Engaging the audience in critical thought, Hancock provided an alternative view of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and rebellion during the Civil War. The challenging nature of his lecture was not limited in scope; rather it blew open the doors for a whole new take on the events that encompassed the Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln is traditionally interpreted as a hero: he was the morally elevated president who could see the wrongs of slavery before his contemporaries could. But what Hancock emphasized is the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was more of a military necessity to Lincoln than a moral one. Lincoln needed to consider the politics of the war, the dichotomy of the North and South, and keeping the constitution intact. While he believed slavery was wrong, his primary goal was to preserve the Union and end the war. Hancock termed the false grandeur enshrouding the Emancipation Proclamation a “translucent sheen of glory”. While the content of the proclamation declares emancipation for the slaves, this is a superficial view; it was no gift to the African Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation was essential for the military success of the Union and ultimately created for the protection of a white man’s world. Continue reading “Event Review – Rebelling for the Promise of Revolution: Black Emancipation and the Civil War”