There are few places better than Bowdoin College to study the American Civil War (1861-1865). There is a saying that the war started and ended in Brunswick, Maine. For some, the war started not in 1861 with the attack on Fort Sumter but with Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which she wrote on Federal Street. Bowdoin College Professor and President, General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain accepted the final surrender of the Confederate infantry at Appomattox Court House in April of 1865. Students who engage in Bowdoin’s Civil War cluster have the unique opportunity to explore this critical period in United States history through a range of disciplinary lenses with a focus on the people and places that helped to shape it. History courses seek to interpret the meaning of the events surrounding the war, including its causes and consequences. Courses in literature explore how American literature shaped Civil War history. And studies in Art History focus on “reading” the material, artistic, and photographic evidence of the war. Students engaged in Africana Studies will also find much of interest in this cluster of courses. At each point, our concern is not simply with learning about the Civil War, but acquiring the skills necessary to work across these important disciplines.
Image: Gen. Oliver Otis Howard (Bowdoin Class of 1850)