While other states are still in the beginning stages of organizing sesquicentennial commissions Virginia is getting ready to host a major event on Wednesday, April 29 at the University of Richmond’s Robins Center. This is the first of a series of Signature Conferences that will be held throughout the sesquicentennial. This first conference is titled, “America on the Eve of the Civil War” and will include four sessions, which will place participants in a position where they must take stock of the nation following John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry and anticipate its consequences as a presidential election loomes on the horizon. The participants make up a who’s who list of Civil War historians. They include, among others, David Blight, Gary Gallagher, Manisha Sinha, Nelson Lankford, Charles Dew, and Ed Ayers. Well over 1,700 people are registered to date, coming from all over Virginia plus 23 other states. Registration is still open, though I urge you to reserve a seat now as it looks like it will eventually sell out.
I will be live blogging throughout the day. In fact, I will be located in a special section with the rest of the media – should be a blast. In addition to blogging, I will be hosting a luncheon for educators, the goal being to give teachers a chance to network and discuss the session topics. I do hope that additional states can muster the political will and organize commemorative committees to better our understanding of this crucial period in American history. For now, sit back and watch as Virginia sets the standard.
Update: The Q&A sections of the panels will include questions submitted electronically. It looks like you will be able to submit a question to me through the blog that I can relay to the Question Manager. I will provide more details as we get closer to the conference.