speaks about
"The U.S. Civil War: The Global Perspective"

Tuesday, November 13, 2018
in the Campaign Room at Patton Hall Officers' Club,
214 Jackson Avenue, Ft. Myer, VA  22211
(take the elevator to the right as you enter the building or
take the stairs to the left up one level to the first floor)

6 pm: Social Hour (cash bar)
6:45 pm: Dinner ($36 for dinner and lecture)
8 pm: Lecture ($5 for lecture only)
Reservations Due By Tuesday, November 6, 5pm
(cancellations after the due date are non-refundable, as we must pay for the dinners regardless of the actual attendance)
If you have any problems making reservations online or would like to know about alternatives to making reservations or payments online, please email Paula Whitacre at

Non DoD attendees will need to enter through security at the Hatfield gate; see instructions to enter Ft. Myer HERE
(also see directions here) or (download them in pdf here)Interactive Public Transportation Options are HERE

About the Topic:
Andrew Zimmerman is an award-winning professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  During the 2017-2018 academic year, Professor Zimmerman was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.  He is now writing a history of the U.S. Civil War as an international revolution.  The project is tentatively titled Conjuring Freedom: A Global History of the American Civil War.  His presentation will cover his current undertaking.

Professor Zimmerman explains that Conjuring Freedom offers not only a new interpretation of the U.S. Civil War, but also a model for rethinking such archetypical national events from a perspective that is transnational, de-provincializing, and “from below.”  (Note: “from below” refers to a historical narrative from the perspective of marginalized people or groups rather than leaders).

His research began with the study of the multi-racial and multi-ethnic plebeian intellectual and political worlds that intersected in the mid-19th-century U.S. and then focused on a revolution against slavery that extended beyond the Civil War both spatially and temporally.  He studied the political traditions stemming from African American conjure and German-American communism. (Note:  “conjure” was the North American counterpart of Haitian Vodou and other Afro-Atlantic religions whose connections to the politics of slavery have been well studied).

Professor Zimmerman contends that those who turned the war from a battlefield contest over the fate of the Union into a grassroots and often illegal revolution against slavery served to advance longstanding democratic struggles that began in Africa and Europe well before 1861 and continued long after 1865.  This revolution against slavery was more than a discrete struggle within the U.S. Civil War; it played a decisive role in the Union victory, especially in the Mississippi River Valley, where the most important Union advances and political innovations (if not the best-known battles) took place. According to Professor Zimmerman, “Lincoln and them other big emancipator men” (which one former slave called the Union leadership) depended on this revolution, but ironically could not tolerate its radically democratic aims.  This tension between the revolution against slavery and the war to save the Union helps explain the contradictory outcomes of the war itself, which not only ended slavery but also inaugurated new forms of coercion in the Gilded Age North and the Jim Crow South.

With Conjuring Freedom, Professor Zimmerman presents a model of how different approaches to social theory reveal new historical actors and events as well as force us to reconsider some of the most venerable topics of historical writing, including the U.S. Civil War.


About the Speaker: 
Before joining the History Department at The George Washington University, Professor Zimmerman earned a Ph.D from the University of California, San Diego, in 1998; an M.Phil in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge in 1991; and a B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in History from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1990.  He was also a Mellon fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University in New York City.

Professor Zimmerman's research focuses on empires and revolutions in Europe, the United States, and West Africa.  He is the author of "Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany, Alabama in Africa," and several peer-reviewed articles.

Professor Zimmerman's publications related to U.S. Civil War history include the following:
“From the Rhine to the Mississippi: Property, Democracy, and Socialism in the American Civil War.” Journal of the Civil War Era 5 (2015): 3-37.

Editor, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Civil War in the United States (International Publishers, 2016).  According to Professor Zimmerman, Marx and Engels saw the U.S. Civil War as “a workers’ revolt,” and “a social revolution.” They also saw the arming of African Americans as “a trump card,” ensuring the North’s victory.

For more information about Professor Zimmerman, visit
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