Russ Gifford
Connecting Regional History with National History... by Telling the Stories of Individuals

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I am always looking for new places to present my talks.



Upcoming Talks

Upcoming Sessions in May:

May 9, 16, 23


The Crucible - How the War Between the States Changed America

The American Civil War has more books dedicated to it than any other event in American History. Lincoln is the most written about President and held in the highest regard of all American Presidents.

The focus is appropriate. No event changed the United States as deeply as this war. Beyond the deaths that reached all members of society; beyond the suffering that stretched to all states and territories; beyond the cost in money and blood; the American Civil War changed everything that came after it. Even the language changed – we would now say ‘The United States’ as refereeing to a singular entity. Soon no one would say ‘The United States are” – the way it would have been said before the war. Soon it would be common to hear “The United States is” – making it a name for the country, not the name of a collection of independent countries. As schools would soon teach, in class and in the Pledge of Allegiance would reinforce, “The United States is one nation.”

If only it were that simple in changing attitudes. This series of classes will look at three phases of changes brought on by the Civil War: The Political, Professional, and Personal Changes

Part I: The Political – the Amendments, the Laws, and the Practices of Politics -- May 9 @ noon (Zoom @ 6:30 PM)

The Civil War amendments – 13th, 14th, and 15th, changed the relationship of the Federal Government and the States. Easy to say that – do you know how, or what those changes were? They all cast a long shadow into today – and many still decry that. Which takes guts, considering these amendments were dedicated to put an end to slavery. Yes, they intended to change things. They had to. The Civil War was the result of not responding to the needed changes.

But did the changes made have the intended impact? How did the politicians, including the Presidents, and the Courts respond? This session will look at how and why the reach of the Federal Government increased -and where this led.

Part II: The Business Side: How the War Changed American Business -- May 16 @ noon (Zoom @ 6:30 PM)

All wars change businesses. But from the middle of the American Civil War on, this war accelerated major changes in American business practices The most important was the massive change from independent businessmen to massive business factories that could produce the supplies and armaments needed by the huge Union army. But these megalithic businesses would be more powerful than local and state governments. In this session, we will see many examples of the War’s impact on the workforce, and the changes it will bring to society – good and bad.

Part III: The Personal Side: How the Events of the Civil War Changed Us -- May 23 @ noon (Zoom @ 6:30 PM)

From funerals to financial issues, homesteads and home life, pastimes to personal freedoms - the War made a difference in American life. We will see examples of these changes occurring at the grassroots stage and continue to the turn of the century and beyond. Yet, what about the changes in the South? These may be the most important, and the most far reaching of all the changes. What was the response to a new population of Freedmen? We will look at these, and the other unintended consequences of the Civil War on America in this session. The answers will surprise many.

Cargill Auditorium
Western Iowa Tech Community College
4511 Stone Park
Sioux City Iowa.
Presented as part of the Lifelong Learning Institute, open to all.

       “His ratings were the highest for our entire season of 12 workshops, and far eclipsed those for the previous season. He created a fantastic class, and people left feeling empowered.” -- Dr. Lynn Barteck, Tri State Graduate Center

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