People’s University examines Civil War, statehood

WHEELING – The latest series in the People’s University program at the Ohio County Public Library will focus on the Civil War and West Virginia Statehood with “American History II: The Civil War and West Virginia Statehood.”

Classes will meet on consecutive Tuesday evenings from May 7 through June 25 in the library’s auditorium.

“I think we have assembled a stellar faculty for this series,” said Sean Duffy, library programming coordinator. “These are some of the best people you will find on regional Civil War history. We designed this series to coincide with all of the upcoming sesquicentennial events. The series will provide national context and will also take a direct look at Wheeling during the period.”

Classes include:

7 p.m. May 7, “Slavery and the Road to War.” It features a look at the Underground Railroad, the Fugitive Slave Law, the slave market in Wheeling, Sara Lucy Bagby and John Brown. John Mattox, Flushing, Ohio, Underground Railroad Museum curator, will instruct.

7 p.m. May 14, “Lincoln and the Secession Crisis.” The class will examine the four 1860 presidential campaigns; the secession movement and Lincoln’s evolving positions toward it; the relationship and correspondence of Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens; and the decision of the Confederate government to assault Fort Sumter. Rea Redd, Waynesburg University Eberly Library director and American history instructor, will instruct. For 20 years, Redd has participated in Civil War re-enactments as a Federal infantryman, a Federal Medical Service captain and President Abraham Lincoln. He wrote “Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide, Volume One.”

7 p.m. May 21, “An Introduction to the Civil War,” will look at the major American political, social and economic issues from the second half of the 18th century to just prior to the attack on Fort Sumter. Roger Micker, former Upper Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable president, Ohio 150 Sesquicentennial Committee member and Friends of Gettysburg presenter, will instruct. He also is a retired Steubenville High School history teacher.

7 p.m. May 28, “The Civil War: Part I.” The class will explore the critical events of 1861-1863; the key military strategies and tactics that led to the battles and naval blockade; battlefield medicine; the financing of the war; the resistance to the war; the importance of the U.S. Navy on the rivers and the ocean; and the idea of turning points. Redd will instruct.

7 p.m. June 4, “The Civil War: Part II.” The class will cover events from 1863-1865, including the key military strategies and tactics that developed during the last half of the war; the military drafts; the wartime monetary inflation; civilian responses to the war; and turning points. Kristopher White, former Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military park staff military historian, will instruct. He co-authored “Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Second Front: The Second Battle of Fredericksburg and Salem Church,” “A Season of Slaughter: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House,” “The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson” and “Simply Murder: The Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862.”

7 p.m. June 11, “War-Time Wheeling.” The class will explore Wheeling’s role in wartime events – militarily, economically and politically, including a look at important locations and buildings in Wheeling during the war years, some of which still remain. It also will focus on some of the local people whose efforts changed history. Jeanne Finstein, Friends of Wheeling president, Wheeling Civil War 150 Committee member, Upper Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable member and Wheeling Area Genealogical Society member, will instruct.

7 p.m. June 8, “The Wheeling Conventions.” As part of Wheeling’s Statehood Sesquicentennial observance, the lecture will explore why western Virginians opposed Virginia’s secession and why they chose Wheeling for the convention; how the Reorganized Government of Virginia was organized; and how West Virginia evolved from deliberations at Wheeling Custom House. David Javersak will instruct.

7 p.m. June 25, “Reconstruction.” The class will review how the former Confederate states re-entered the Union, beginning in 1862. The class looks at Lincoln’s, Johnson’s and the Congress’ evolving reconstruction plans; the movement of African Americans from freedom to citizenship; the return of soldiers to civilian life; and how Americans viewed the war during and after Reconstruction. Redd will instruct.

The People’s University is a program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts, through courses taught by experts in each subject that enable patrons to pursue lifelong learning in classic subjects such as history, music appreciation, philosophy and literature.

The program is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Call (304) 232-0244 or email to register.