The Institute for Honor Symposium: From Civil War to a Civil Society: Achieving Peace with Honor March 20-21, 2015

W&L's fall, winter, and spring weekend seminars continue to be a popular feature of the Alumni College, for the programs offer participants a substantive weekend getaway in the beautiful environs of Lexington and Rockbridge County. Participants stay in local inns, with the program, receptions, dinner, and lunch on campus. Programs begin on Friday afternoon and conclude after lunch on Saturday.

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Established in 2000 at Washington and Lee by a generous endowment from the Class of 1960, the Institute for Honor includes an array of initiatives and specific programs designed to promote the understanding and practice of honor as an indispensable element of society. The Institute for Honor Symposium is dedicated to the advocacy of honor as the core value in personal, professional, business, and community relations. The symposium is directed by Lucas Morel, the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics.

As the sesquicentennial of the Civil War draws to a close in 2015, this year's symposium will examine honor's role in America's transition from war to peace. Winning the peace on the battlefield proved a mighty ordeal. Keeping the peace once the Civil War was over proved even more difficult, especially with the emancipation of almost four million African-Americans, most of whom remained living among defeated white Southerners. It has been said that Robert E. Lee was the epitome of honor in defeat. Yet could he have done more to quell resentments among his defeated compatriots and discourage Lost Cause sentiments among citizens in the South? To what extent did honor govern the actions of the victors? Lincoln refused to retract the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring of black soldiers, "If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive-even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept." Had he served his entire second term, could he have done more to ensure the full protection of their rights as Americans? Leading experts will explore Lincoln's actions and those of Lee and other prominent figures in the conflict and its aftermath to determine if they promoted a peace "worth the keeping in all future time."

The author of many books about the American founders and most recently Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, Richard Brookhiser will deliver a keynote address on Lincoln's leadership as a civil war president anticipating the challenges of post-war governance. H.W. Brands, Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses S. Grant, will speak on "Lincoln and Grant: Achieving the Peace." Gary Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia and author of Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty, will deliver the Class of 1960 Lecture, "Robert E. Lee: Honor in Defeat." Lucas Morel will introduce the symposium and speakers by setting forth key themes and issues, both historic and contemporary, as well as lead a panel discussion by the speakers addressing "Reflections on Honor and ‘A New Birth of Freedom.' "

Above: images courtesy of the Library of Congress