Appomattox: Legacies and Legends

Date & Time

June 2, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm


Alumni Hall Ballroom



Elizabeth Varon will dispel the myth that the Appomattox surrender was a “gentleman’s agreement” between Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant that reunited the South and North. She argues that the surrender terms were controversial from the start and became the touchstone for political conflicts during Reconstruction.  Her talk will address meanings of the surrender in central Virginia and Albemarle County, especially for the former slaves and black Union soldiers who regarded April 9, 1865 as a key turning point in the long process of emancipation.


Elizabeth Varon

Langbourne M. Williams Professor, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, American History; Associate Director, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History

Elizabeth R. Varon grew up in northern Virginia. She received her PhD from Yale, and has held teaching positions at Wellesley College and Temple University.  She is a Professor in American History, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. A specialist in the Civil War era and 19th-century South, Varon is the author of We Mean to be Counted: White Women and Politics in Antebellum Virginia; Southern Lady, Yankee Spy:  The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent  in the Heart of the Confederacy; Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 and Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil WarSouthern Lady, Yankee Spy won three book awards and was named one of the “Five Best” books on the “Civil War away from the battlefield” in the Wall Street Journal.  Appomattox won numerous accolades, and was named one of Civil War Monitor’s “Best Books of 2014” and one of National Public Radio’s “Six Civil War Books to Read Now.” Varon’s public presentations include book talks at the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield, at Gettysburg’s Civil War Institute, and on C-Span’s Book TV.