Megan A. Sutter '16, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2015




The Civil War Centennial celebrations fell short of a great opportunity in which Americans could reflect on the legacy of the Civil War through the racial crisis erupting in their nation. Different groups exploited the Centennial for their own purposes, but only the African Americans and civil rights activists tried to emphasize the importance of emancipation and slavery to the memory of the war. Southerners asserted states’ rights in resistance to what they saw as a black rebellion in their area. Northerners reflected back on the theme of reconciliation, prevalent in the seventy-fifth anniversary of the war. Unfortunately, those who had the most power to make an impact, government officials like the President and other Governors, tread lightly over the civil rights movement and instead focused on uniting a nation over anti-communism and Cold War sentiment. Fortunately, fifty years later, our nation has begun to recognize the real cause of the Civil War, but the “unfinished work” is not done.


This paper was written for Professor Michael Birkner's course, HIST 349: The United States Since 1945, Fall 2015.