p>The Civil War was fought not just on battlefields but in the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans. And that cultural war - one that embraced dueling moral systems and competing national visions - was embodied in the history of St. Louis, the largest city sitting along the border between freedom and slavery.
Adam Arenson, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War, examines that city's unique position on Wednesday, February 8, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Library, 4801 Main Street.
St. Louis provides a unique lens for viewing the battle over Manifest Destiny and the politics of slavery. The city's intellectual and mercantile elite saw themselves as the vanguard of a new order, destined to erase old patterns as the United States expanded from coast to coast. They attempted to reorient the country's political landscape, viewing the West as the future and their city as the cultural, commercial and national capital of a vast Western empire.
Reviews of The Great Heart of the Republic have been enthusiastic. Michael A. Morrison (Slavery and the American West) calls it a "sweeping, illuminating work," while Aaron Sachs (The Humbolt Current) writes of the book's "compelling prose" and "brilliant analyses" and says it combines "the most thorough scholarship with the pleasures of a frontier romance."
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the garage adjacent to the Library.
Co-sponsored by the Department of History, the UMKC History Club and the Center for Midwestern Studies at UMKC.