History for Lunch at State Historical Society of Iowa

Marvin Bergman's picture

Please join us at noon on Thursday, December 8, when Thomas R. Baker will discuss “Going Local: How New Research on Individual States is Shaping Our Understanding of the Civil War” at the State Historical Society of Iowa, Centennial Building, 402 Iowa Avenue in Iowa City. The program is free and open to the public.

Thomas R. Baker’s new book from the University of Iowa Press, “The Sacred Cause of Union: Iowa in the Civil War,” is a rare example of Civil War research focusing on a single state, but more such books are likely to follow. Rather than examine the Union states as a whole, Civil War historians over the past 30 years have been narrowing their focus in order to examine the day-to-day experiences of individual citizens and communities. Baker’s recent work on the state of Iowa is a prime example of the benefits of using a single state to analyze the Civil War experience. 

State officials during the Civil War enjoyed considerable autonomy in administering military affairs, quite unlike the modern age. No centralized federal system yet existed to enlist citizen-soldiers, train them, feed them, nurse them, equip them, appoint their officers, and group the volunteers into companies and regiments. Without direct federal oversight, each state pursued its own path during the four-year conflict. Iowans, led by an alliance of Republicans and pro-war Democrats, provided federal officials with the necessary manpower to defend Missouri from Confederate forces and march through the heart of the Deep South.

Baker is an associate dean of students at the University of Iowa. He earned his Bachelor of Arts, Juris Doctor and Master of Arts in History at the University of Iowa. A judicial administrator since 1988, Baker specializes in civil rights investigations and does historical research in his spare time.

Take this opportunity to learn about Iowa’s role in the Civil War. Seated is limited. For more information call (319) 335-3911.

We look forward to seeing you next Thursday.