NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

1861_Book_Cover.jpgFRESH AIR

The first shots of the American Civil War were fired 150 years ago in the Charleston, S.C., harbor. Less than two days later, Fort Sumter surrendered. It would take the Union army nearly four years to bring the coastal fortification back under its command. On Fresh Air, historian Adam Goodheart explains how national leaders and ordinary citizens responded to the chaos and uncertainty in the days and months before and after the struggle at Fort Sumter, an almost-bloodless two-day battle that became the start of the Civil War almost by mistake. “[At Fort Sumter] the Southerners thought that they would be able to drive the Yankees off of Confederate territory, and [they thought that] the North would feel like it wasn’t worthwhile to fight to bring the South back into the Union,” says Goodheart. “Suffice to say, they miscalculated hugely.” Goodheart is the author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening, a social history of the earliest days of the Civil War, a time when the country — soon to be two separate nations — was preparing itself for battle. He chose the year 1861, he says, because there were so many uncertainties all over the United States. “When we think about the Civil War today, we see the entire arch of the struggle — sort of a great epic struggle — ending, of course, with the martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln,” he says. “But by taking the one particular moment when everything was uncertain — when everything seemed to change overnight — I wanted to recover that sense … of not knowing what’s going to come next. And people didn’t know in 1861 what was going to come next.” MORE

Adam Goodheart will be speaking about the beginnings of the Civil War at the National Constitution Center on Wednesday at 6:30 PM and he will sign copies of 1861: The Civil War Awakening afterwards. Admission: Free.

RELATED: Remember the controversy over funding public broadcasting? I know, it was an entire month ago, james_okeefe_300x300.jpgbut make an effort. Remember how it was the signal culture-war issue in America? Remember how this was a matter of principle and how we simply could not afford such extras in a time of deep deficits? Remember how it was a matter of values and political bias and elitist snobs looking down at taxpayers? Remember that guy who did that thing with a camera? Remember how—as public-funding opponents and public-broadcasting defenders alike promised/warned—it was really different this time? (Kind of like it was last time?) Yeah, so that kind of went away. MORE

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