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Each spring, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society hosts a symposium dedicated to exploring the history of Congress. This year marks the ninth year of a series, “The National Capital in a Nation Divided: Congress and the District of Columbia Confront Sectionalism and Slavery,” which has already produced several books of scholarly articles.

This spring’s theme? Creating an Army to Preserve the Nation.

That topic may seem limited, but scholars from around the globe have found myriad avenues to  wander, with just a bit of traditional military history to pave the way. After all, Congress was doing its job in the Capitol, not on the battlefield.

Union troops drill on the grounds of the Capitol in 1861. (Library of Congress)

The conference is free and open to the public, so if you’re anywhere near Capitol Hill, please join us! Full details, including a schedule when it becomes available, can be found on our website. Registration is recommended: email your contact information to uschs@uschs.org or call (202) 543-8919 x38 and leave a message with your contact information. Be sure to note which day/s you’d like to attend. (And you don’t need to commit to staying the whole time; you’re welcome to attend for part of the symposium—just note that in your message.)

Details: The Short Version
Thursday, May 3: Keynote address and opening reception with Catherine Clinton (all the way over from Queen’s University in Ireland), whose talk, “Mary Lincoln vs. Congress: A Thirty Years War,” is about Mary Lincoln’s contentious relationship with Congress and her attempts to manipulate budgets in her favor. 6:30-8:30 pm in Room G50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Friday, May 4: Eight speakers regale you all day on topics ranging from African American and German American soldiers to riots to political maneuvering over generalships and the economics of paying for the war, including the creation of the IRS. The full list of speakers and their titles or topics is on our website. 9 am to 5 pm in Room G50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Again, check our website for more details and plan to join us if you can! You can also leave questions in the comments.