Lacy K. Ford is dean of arts and sciences and a professor of history at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches nineteenth- and twentieth-century southern and U.S. history. His most recent book, Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South (2009), and his 2008 Journal of American History article, "Reconfiguring the Old South: Solving the Problem of Slavery, 1787-1838," (featured on the Teaching the JAH web project, focus on the emergence of a distinct paternalist ideology in the Old South and its evolving influence on white southern society. Ford also maintains a research focus on the economy of the modern South.
Historians have grappled tirelessly to fathom the full meaning of a war that cost the nation over 700,000 lives (from a total population of roughly 40 million) and yet also saved the Union and freed nearly four million slaves. Fifty years ago , historian David Potter argued that much of that meaning lay in fusion of liberalism and nationalism through the Union victory in the war. More recently, the end of the Cold War and the invention of radically decentralizing technologies have challenged that vision. This lecture tries once again to find the meaning of the Civil War for the world today.