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Verso University Presents: The American Civil War: Past and Prologue

Thu, May 9 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

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Understanding our tumultuous past helps shed light on today's political frictions.

Scarcely three generations after its formation, the United States fractured along geographic lines and fought a bloody four-year battle over irreconcilable social and economic differences. While the Union was preserved, many of the issues that led to war remain controversial today: Civil rights and accountability for slavery, states’ rights and the powers of the federal government and of the president, immigration, foreign trade, and tariff policy. Understanding our tumultuous past helps shed light on today’s political frictions.

This four-session course will be conducted April 18 through May 9, 2-3:30 pm, by Jeffrey Mayer, a Westport resident and amateur historian who has given his Civil War survey course to hundreds of Connecticut residents under the auspices of continuing education, senior center, and other speakers’ programs. Jeff  is the author of Valuenomics:  Timeless Principles That Drive Success and a monograph, Jews in the Civil War. He will explore the tensions that led to the conflict, the war itself, and its aftermath. No previous knowledge of Civil War History is necessary.

The class will be held in Brooks Place, on the Library's main level.

The American Civil War: Past and Prologue Weekly Topics:

Thursday, April 18
Origins: Tensions over Slavery, Nullification, and States’ Rights

Thursday, April 25
Turning Points: Fort Sumter to Gettysburg

Thursday, May 2
Exhaustion: New York Draft Riots to Appomattox Court House

Thursday, May 9
Aftermath: Assassination and Reconstruction

Recommended reading:
James McPherson,  Battle Cry of Freedom
John Keegan, The American Civil War
Shelby Foote, The Civil War
Ulysses Grant, The Personal Memoirs
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals.


  • Classes are structured as a consecutive series.
  • Class size is limited.
  • Each series has a one time fee registration fee of  $25, covering all classes in the series.
  • Registration is mandatory.
  • The Westport Library wants to ensure that all interested students are able to participate in Verso University courses. If the registration fee is a barrier to entry for you, please contact [email protected].


Verso University is the Library’s lifelong learning and education initiative, serving up year-round offerings of classes, workshops, and lectures designed to further education and learning. Offerings run the gamut of educational opportunities, ranging from one-time lectures to ongoing courses to classes that meet weekly or perhaps monthly.

Verso University programs are made possible by the generous support of the Nancy J. Beard Lifelong Learning and Education Fund.

More Resources...
American Civil War
History Reference Center


Thu, May 9
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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The Westport Library
20 Jesup Road
Westport, CT 06880 United States
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