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Civil War symposium commemorates the struggle’s sesquicentennial

A whirlwind discussion on the legacy of the Civil War entertained students, faculty, staff, and guests at “The Civil War and Reconstruction in the Border States: History and Memory at the Sesquicentennial,” a symposium in Haggin Auditorium on the campus of Transylvania Thursday, April 28.

Four American history scholars — John McCardell Jr., vice-chancellor and president of the University of the South at Sewanee; Annette Gordon-Reed, professor of law and history at Harvard University; David W. Blight, professor of American history at Yale University; and moderator Jed Shugerman, assistant professor at Harvard Law School — presented and participated in a question-and-answer session that explored topics ranging from the beginning of the South’s history to Reconstruction and African-Americans to Robert Penn Warren and his reflections on the war.

The symposium was part of the week’s activities surrounding the inauguration of Transylvania President R. Owen Williams. In his introduction, Williams unveiled a Civil War-era American flag — stitched by former dean of the medical school and U.S. Army surgeon Robert Peters — that flew over Old Morrison during the war. The Peters family lived at 228 Market Street in Gratz Park (then the College Lot) and Peters' daughter, Frances, kept a detailed diary of life in Lexington and at Transylvania during the Civil War that was later published as A Union Woman in Civil War Kentucky.

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