The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

Thursday, September 12 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm |

CHS is pleased to welcome Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner to deliver the first annual Woodward Lecture, a new lecture series named after Charles Woodward, a significant benefactor of the CHS.

Dr. Foner was a historical consultant for the exhibition Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow. He will speak in support of his new book, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

The Second Founding is an authoritative story of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation. The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed due process and the equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. The federal government, not the states, was put in charge of enforcement. By grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, the amendments marked the second founding of the United States.

Foner will relate the dramatic origins of these revolutionary amendments in citizen meetings and political negotiations, explore the momentous court decisions that then narrowed and even nullified the rights guaranteed in these amendments. Today, issues of birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection are still in dispute, the ideal of equality yet to be achieved.

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. Please tell us you’re coming by emailing rsvp@chs.org or calling 860-236-5621 ex. 238.

Contact Adult Programs Manager Natalie Belanger with any questions at (860) 236-5621 x289, or email natalie_belanger@chs.org.

About the Speaker
Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, specializes in the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and 19th-century America. He is one of only two persons to serve as President of the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians. He has also been the curator of several museum exhibitions, including the prize-winning “A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln,” at the Chicago Historical Society. His book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Lincoln prizes for 2011. His other books include Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad; Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction; and Who Owns History? Rethinking the Past in a Changing World. He revised the presentation of American history at the Hall of Presidents at Disney World, and Meet Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland, and has served as consultant to several National Parks Service historical sites and historical museums. Foner has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, London Review of Books, and many other publications, and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, including Charlie Rose, Book Notes, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Bill Moyers Journal, Fresh Air, and All Things Considered, and in historical documentaries on PBS and the History Channel. He has lectured extensively to both academic and non-academic audiences.

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