James McPherson: Why the Civil War Still Matters

Here’s historian James M. McPherson in a discussion at the National Constitution Center.  The video’s description reads, “One of the nation’s leading Civil War historians, James McPherson, explores why the war remains so deeply embedded in the national psyche and identity of Americans today, as described in his highly anticipated book, The War that Forged a Nation.”

This is a really good discussion.


h/t to Kevin Levin.



  1. It’s always a pleasure to listen to a professional historian. Thank for sharing. What interested me was his analysis of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction. Have you considered having a discussion on what happened between 1865 and 1877?

    1. I’ve had a few posts on Reconstruction. As we get into the Reconstruction Sesquicentennial I think there will be a few more.

  2. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Absolutely. A really good presentation. I never get tired of hearing him. Thanks for sharing. Was unaware (or more likely forgot) that the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments said “the states shall not” rather than “the government shall,” which put the emphasis for enforcement on the states and allowed private citizens to continue discriminatory practices. Or that the Supreme Court struck down some of the enabling legislation for these amendments in the 1870s. Interesting to consider, I think, how different things might have been for blacks at a much earlier date in our history had those things not occurred.

  3. Thanks for posting this. Too many Civil War fanboys seem unaware of the Constitutional revolution inaugurated by the Civil War. This was a fascinating and accessible discussion of a complicated legal history.

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