Edward E. Baptist is a professor of history at Cornell University, where he also serves as House Professor-Dean of the Carl Becker House. He teaches about the history of slavery, the U.S. Civil War, American capitalism, and digital history and offers a service-learning course that brings American students to work in the schools of rural Jamaica. He is the author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (2014), which won the OAH Avery O. Craven Award, and Creating an Old South: Middle Florida’s Plantation Frontier before the Civil War (2002). He is a coeditor, with the late Stephanie Camp, of New Studies in the History of American Slavery (2006) and, with Louis Hyman, of American Capitalism: A Reader (e-book edition 2014, paperback 2017). He is also leading a project called Freedom on the Move, a collaborative effort in digital history, with grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, that is building a crowd-sourced database of fugitive slave ads.
This lecture describes the concept of a "second American Republic," born in the Civil War and Reconstruction, through the lens of the Morrill Act. The establishment of large-scale higher education in the US would have long-term consequences that shaped social, economic, and cultural development in ways that would have been impossible in the First American Republic, which was dominated by slaveholders.