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Winning the Peace: Ulysses S. Grant, The Election of 1868, and the Meaning of the Civil War

Though little remembered today, the election of 1868 was one of the most important in U.S. history. The Civil War had ended in the spring of 1865 with a decisive military victory for Union forces, but it had left many social questions unresolved. In Washington, President Andrew Johnson and the Republican-controlled Congress clashed over Reconstruction policy, the nature of federal citizenship, and the promise of racial equality. In 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant was called upon once again to win a peace during a time of discord, this time as a Republican presidential candidate. This talk, delivered during the centennial year of the campaign, will reflect on the ways that Grant’s ultimately successful candidacy cemented the legacy of Union and emancipation, thereby shaping the meaning of the Civil War itself. Andre M. Fleche is an associate professor of history at Castleton University. His first book, The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict, received the Southern Historical Association’s James A. Rawley award in 2013.

Earlier Event: August 4
The Man Who Baptized Grant
Later Event: August 7
General Grant Smiles