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Reconstructing the Campus

Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Reconstructing the Campus
    Book Description:

    The Civil War transformed American life. Not only did thousands of men die on battlefields and millions of slaves become free; cultural institutions reshaped themselves in the context of the war and its aftermath. The first book to examine the Civil War's immediate and long-term impact on higher education,Reconstructing the Campusbegins by tracing college communities' responses to the secession crisis and the outbreak of war. Students made supplies for the armies or left campus to fight. Professors joined the war effort or struggled to keep colleges open. The Union and Confederacy even took over some campuses for military use.

    Then moving beyond 1865, the book explores the war's long-term effects on colleges. Michael David Cohen argues that the Civil War and the political and social conditions the war created prompted major reforms, including the establishment of a new federal role in education. Reminded by the war of the importance of a well-trained military, Congress began providing resources to colleges that offered military courses and other practical curricula. Congress also, as part of a general expansion of the federal bureaucracy that accompanied the war, created the Department of Education to collect and publish data on education. For the first time, the U.S. government both influenced curricula and monitored institutions.

    The war posed special challenges to Southern colleges. Often bereft of students and sometimes physically damaged, they needed to rebuild. Some took the opportunity to redesign themselves into the first Southern universities. They also admitted new types of students, including the poor, women, and, sometimes, formerly enslaved blacks. Thus, while the Civil War did great harm, it also stimulated growth, helping, especially in the South, to create our modern system of higher education.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3318-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    When Americans think of the Civil War, few images come to mind more often than those from the epic filmGone with the Wind.We remember Scarlett O’Hara’s early fright and growing fortitude as she loses and regains her estate. We remember Rhett Butler’s dry cynicism about his compatriots’ lust for war. And we remember, with incredulity, the African American servants who remain faithful to their masters through slavery and freedom. But we seldom remember the first lines of the film or the backstory they imply. As a turkey gobbles and horses laze in the sun, Scarlett’s admirer Brent Tarleton...

  6. ONE Dwellers beside the Sea: Colleges at War
    (pp. 19-51)

    When Sallie Love received her college diploma, she may well have heaved a sigh of relief. Few knew the difficulties of attending college in wartime better than she. When the Civil War broke out, the Love, Mississippi, native was attending the State Female College in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon the surrender of Tennessee’s Fort Donelson to Northern troops in February 1862, however, the college closed, fearing a Union invasion. Love briefly returned home, then enrolled at Berryman College in Hernando, Mississippi. But one afternoon that summer she and her classmates watched the Confederate army retreat through the streets of Hernando; that...

  7. TWO The Curriculum: Teaching the Arts of Peace and War
    (pp. 52-91)

    On September 30, 1859, the lawyer and failed senatorial candidate Abraham Lincoln spoke to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society at its annual fair in Milwaukee. Although conceding that he was “in no sort a farmer” himself, Lincoln pointed to what he saw as some of the most important issues of the day relating to agriculture. He speculated on the value of new technologies and internal improvements for growing and transporting produce. He compared the meanings of free and slave labor. And, toward the end of his speech, he broached the question of education for farmers. “Cultivated thought,” he argued, could...

  8. THREE Admissions: Race, Class, Gender
    (pp. 92-127)

    In October 1876 South Carolina’s governor received a letter from Grandison Harris, a justice of the peace in Augusta, Georgia. Harris wished to send his son to study law at the University of South Carolina. He wrote to the governor, who chaired the board of trustees, to inquire about admissions procedures and tuition fees. There was nothing especially unusual about his letter. The legislature recently had established the law school as part of its building a comprehensive university. Given Harris’s own profession, it is not surprising that he wanted his son to study there. What was remarkable here was not...

  9. FOUR Admissions: Geography, Service, Morality
    (pp. 128-152)

    William H. Lynch, a lieutenant in the Thirty-second Missouri Volunteer Infantry (USA), returned to his home state in August 1865. But instead of going to his hometown of Houston, he headed one hundred miles north to Columbia. There he enrolled at the University of Missouri. He spent the next year studying Greek, Latin, mathematics, and surveying. He won election as an officer in one of the student literary societies. He attended local churches and a Sunday school. He paid university tuition with his army wages.

    In several ways, Lieutenant Lynch was a typical student of post–Civil War America. He...

  10. FIVE College, Community, and Nation
    (pp. 153-186)

    In a Pennsylvania hall in 1876, adults leafed through examination papers by Lincoln University students. But they were not professors at the African American university. They were not even on the Chester County campus. Nearby, others watched children engaged in a kindergarten lesson. But they were neither teachers nor parents. They were not even in a school building. These viewers were tourists. They were attending the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, at which American institutions of many kinds, including colleges and schools, displayed their accomplishments. Lincoln’s exhibit taught attendees about the work of black college students. A mock kindergarten attended by...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 187-196)

    When the Civil War began, higher education in America comprised chiefly small colleges that taught students an abstract curriculum rooted in the classical languages and mathematics. In the North they attracted students from a broad range of social classes who wished to become ministers, doctors, lawyers, or teachers. In the South they enrolled primarily the children of the plantation elite. Men and women in the South attended different colleges; blacks attended none. Students often traveled across state borders to reach college. The federal government did not play a major role in education. State governments had founded some colleges but usually...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 197-234)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-258)
  14. Index
    (pp. 259-274)