The Civil War and the Forging of Character

The war resolved two fundamental questions left unresolved by the revolution: whether the United States was to be a dissolvable confederation of sovereign states or an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government; and whether this nation, born of a declaration that all men were created with an equal right to liberty, would continue to exist as the largest slaveholding country in the world.”james mcpherson
For the Civil War Trust

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In July 1864, General William T. Sherman and his Union Army made plans to capture Atlanta and to destroy the industries and railroad lines that supplied the Confederacy—a turning point in the Civil War. The Chattahoochee River at Paces Ferry offered the last natural barrier for the Army before they reached the city. It is here, at this strategic location, where one now finds the campus of The Lovett School.

The Civil War and the Forging of Character is a four-year lecture series presented by The Lovett School to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the Battle of Atlanta. Its purpose: to bring to Lovett speakers and scholars who can engage all of us—students, faculty, parents, alumni, and the community at large—on critical matters of character and integrity as demonstrated during this defining period in our nation’s history.

See video and links from past lectures via the "Previous Lectures" link, left. 

Upcoming Lecture

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Elizabeth R. Varon, Ph.D.

"April 9, 1865, as Freedom Day: Lee's Surrender and the Process of Emancipation"

Thursday, November 13, 2014
6:00 pm
Hendrix-Chenault Theater

Admission is free, but reservations are suggested. Please call (404) 262-3032, ext. 1717, or email Light refreshments will be served before the lecture starting at 5:30 pm
Elizabeth R. Varon is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia, where her specialties include the American South, the Civil War era, women's and gender history, and intellectual and cultural history.

A noted Civil War historian, her most recent work is last year's 
Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the CivilWar. She is also the author of Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859; We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia; and Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy, which was named one of the "Five Best" books on the "Civil War away from the battlefield" by the Wall Street Journal.

Dr. Varon holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and a B.A. from Swarthmore College. Before joining the faculty at UVA, she taught at Wellesley College and Temple University, and has been appointed to the Distinguished Lectureship Program of the Organization of American Historians.


More speakers and dates will be added over the course of the next four years. All lectures are free and open to the public and will be held in the Hendrix-Chenault Theater on The Lovett School campus unless otherwise noted. For directions to campus, please follow this link.

  • Edward Ayers, Ph.D.
    President, University of Richmond
    May 21, 2012
  • Gary W. Gallagher, Ph.D.
    John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War, University of Virginia
    November 14, 2012
  • George McDaniel, Ph.D.
    Executive Director, Drayton Hall, Charleston, S.C.
    January 31, 2013
  • Ted DeLaney, Ph.D.
    Professor of History, Washington and Lee University
    April 10, 2013
  • David W. Blight, Ph.D.
    Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, Yale University
    May 8, 2013, at the Atlanta History Center
  • Robert K. Krick
    Former chief historian at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
    November 12, 2013
  • Joan Waugh, Ph.D.
    Vice Chair for Undergraduate Affairs, history professor: University of California, Los Angeles
    March 24, 2014
  • John M. McCardell, Jr., Ph.D.
    Vice-chancellor, Sewanee: University of the South
    May 19, 2014  -- 11:00 am lecture

  • Stephen Davis, Ph.D.
    Author and historian, Atlanta
    September 2, 2014
  • Elizabeth Varon, Ph.D.
    Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History: University of Virginia
    November 13, 2014
  • Deborah Willis, Ph.D.
    Professor of Photography, Tisch School of the Arts: New York University
    January 15, 2015
  • Grand Lecture with Joan Waugh, Gary Gallagher, Ed Ayers & David Blight
    April 15, 2015

For More Information

The Civil War and the Forging of Character is made possible by The Jack and Anne Glenn Character Education Speakers Fund, through the generosity of the Jack and Anne Glenn Charitable Foundation and brothers Jack, Alston, Bob, and Lewis Glenn, and in cooperation with the Atlanta History Center.

Want to be added to our mailing list and notified about upcoming lectures? Please send your email address to with "Civil War" in the subject line. 

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Kim Blass
The Lovett School

Gordon Jones
Atlanta History Center