Conference: Citizenship in the Era of the Civil War

Virginia Tech, April 23-25, 2015



Conference registration is now closed. You can attend both the keynote lectures free of charge and without pre-registering. Questions? Contact Paul Quigley:



The conference venue, the Inn at Virginia Tech, is offering a special rate of $129 (single or double) for presenters and attendees. (Special rate expires on March 24, 2015, and may sell out before then.) Call (540) 231-8000 and mention the name of the conference. Other hotels in the vicinity include the Holiday Inn Blacksburg and the Main Street Inn.



Directions to the Inn at Virginia Tech are available here. For those traveling by air, the closest airport is the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, about 45 minutes drive away. Taxis cost about $66 each way, and there is an infrequent bus service between the airport and Blacksburg. Another option is to fly into Charlotte (a little less than 3 hours drive away) and rent a car.



The American Civil War transformed citizenship. But many questions remain about the nature and implications of this process, stretching from the 1850s to the 1870s and beyond. What did citizenship mean before the war and what did it mean after? How, why, when, and where did the transformation take place? What were its limitations? How were legal changes connected to social conflicts or cultural developments? Were there international ramifications? These questions, and more, will be the subject of a conference on “Citizenship in the Era of the Civil War” in Blacksburg, April 23-25 2015.

Citizenship was transformed most visibly with the abolition of slavery, the claiming of political rights by African American men, and the new definition of national citizenship contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. But even before the Reconstruction amendments, the war itself had begun to destabilize American citizenship. In both the Union and the Confederacy, the exigencies of war caused government to make new demands upon the governed—including women, African Americans, and immigrants, as well as white male citizens—while material hardships intensified the people’s expectations of their governments. Wartime policies such as conscription signaled new definitions of the relationship between individual and government. This was not a simple story of an already-fixed model of citizenship expanding to include new constituencies. Rather, the Civil War era saw the emergence of new forms of political belonging; of new ideas about the nature of allegiance; of deeply unsettling challenges to the basic frameworks of American politics and society. The very concept of citizenship was being transformed, not just in legal terms but in wide-ranging social, cultural, and political ways as well.

All presenters will submit written versions of their papers in advance of the conference, and a selection of papers will be published in a volume to be edited by conference organizer Paul Quigley.




2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Registration


4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Welcome.  Opening panel: Alternatives to Citizenship

“Against Citizenship: Rethinking Popular Politics and State Action in a World of Subjecthood.” Gregory Downs, City College of New York.

“From Citizens to Subjects: Monarchism and Stabilization in Reconstruction.” Andrew Heath, Sheffield University.

“On the Other Side of Citizenship: Free People of Color in Civil War North Carolina.” Warren Milteer, Virginia Tech.

Chair: Paul Quigley, Virginia Tech.


6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.  Dinner


7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Keynote Lecture

“The Violence of Political Citizenship: Reconstruction and the American Political Tradition.” Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania. Assembly Hall, Inn at Virginia Tech. Free of charge and open to the public.


8:30 p.m.  Reception




9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  Race and Citizenship across National Borders

“Of Blood and Nation: Guyer v. Smith and the Citizen Family.” Kristin Collins, Boston University School of Law.

“The Untaggables.” Dennis Hidalgo, Virginia Tech.

“Chinese Immigrants and the Idea of American Citizenship during the Civil War Era.” Earl Maltz, Rutgers University, Camden.

Chair: Steven Hahn, University of Pennsylvania.


10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  Coffee


11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  The Politics of Citizenship

“Suffrage for White Men Only: The End of Free Men of Color’s Political Citizenship in Antebellum North Carolina.” Lucas Kelley, Virginia Tech.

“The Political Idea of Citizenship in Virginia’s Constitutional and Secessionist Conventions, 1850-1861.” Cristina Bon, Catholic University of Milan.

“Marketing the Vote: Newspaper Advertisements and Political Citizenship during the Presidential Campaigns of 1860 and 1864.” Lawrence Kreiser, Stillman College.

Chair: Gregory Downs, City College of New York.


12:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.  Lunch


2:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.  Oaths and Occupations

“’I am a citizen of Heaven!’: William H. Wharton, Andrew Johnson, and Citizenship in Occupied Nashville.” Lucius Wedge, University of Akron.

“The Union Army’s War on Confederate Citizenship in Occupied Winchester.” Jonathan Berkey, Concord University.

“Citizenship – Compulsory or Convenient: Federal Officials, Confederate Prisoners, and the Oath of Allegiance.” Angela Zombek, St. Petersburg College.

Chair: Zach Dresser, Virginia Tech.


3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.  Coffee


4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.  Citizen Soldiers and Citizen Veterans

“The Republican Tradition and the Challenge of Command in Civil War Citizen-Armies.” Drew S. Bledsoe, Lee University.

“Work, Citizenship, and Confederate Veterans, 1865-1868.” David Williard, University of St. Thomas.

Chair: Kristin Collins, Boston University School of Law.


5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Keynote Lecture

“Law outside the Nation:  Overlapping Jurisdictions and Conflicting Conceptions of Citizenship.” Laura Edwards, Duke University. Assembly Hall, Inn at Virginia Tech. Free of charge and open to the public.


6:30 p.m.  Dinner (on your own)




9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  African Americans and the Problems of Citizenship

“In the Temple of American Liberty: Tracing Citizenship in the Era of the American Civil War.” Elizabeth Regosin, St. Lawrence University.

“’By Stealth’ or Contest: Black Women’s Claims to Freedom by Any Means Necessary.” Tamika Richeson, University of Virginia.

“The ‘Fire Fiend,’ Black Firemen, and Citizenship in the Urban South.” Caitlin Verboon, Yale University.

Chair: Laura Edwards, Duke University.


10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  Coffee


11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Postwar Citizenship and the Law

“A Test Case on the Legitimacy of Secession in the Aftermath of the Civil War.” Cynthia Nicoletti, University of Virginia School of Law.

“The Lost History of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause.” Taja-Nia Y. Henderson, Rutgers School of Law.

“’As My Wife Is a Citizen’: Interracial Marriage, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Radical Reconstruction.” Bradley Proctor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Chair: Peter Wallenstein, Virginia Tech.


12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch


2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Transnational Perspectives

“To ‘Serve Both as a Light and as a Beacon to Our Noble Old State’: Southern Citizens in Latin America.” Claire Wolnisty, University of Kansas.

“The Impact of Republicanism on the Meaning of Citizenship in the post-Civil War South and French Algeria during the early Third Republic.” Timothy Roberts, Western Illinois University.

Chair: Elizabeth Regosin, St. Lawrence University.


3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.                   Closing discussion

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