Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War

Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War

On Thursday, February 20, 2020, Penn State University’s Dr. Rachel Shelden will join LancasterHistory to examine that despite the comradery between lawmakers from different parties, they were nevertheless unprepared for secession and war. For event details and how to register, please scroll to the bottom of this page.

Rachel Shelden, Ph.D.

Traditional portrayals of politicians in antebellum Washington, D.C. describe a violent and divisive society, full of angry debates and violent duels that would cause ripples throughout the country. In Washington Brotherhood, Dr. Rachel Shelden paints a more nuanced portrait of Washington as a less fractious city with a vibrant social and cultural life and engagement among key political figures. This comradery would have consequences for how lawmakers dealt with sectional disputes, especially those involving slavery in the territories, and ultimately lead to disarray.

Rachel Shelden, Ph.D. is the Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center and is an Associate Professor of American History at Penn State. She is the author of Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, & the Coming of the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2013), which received honorable mention for the Wiley-Silver Prize for the best first book on the American Civil War and was a selection of the History Book Club. She is also co-editor, with Gary Gallagher, of A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political History (University of Virginia Press, 2012).


A casual reception and book signing by the author will begin at 4pm on Thursday, February 20 at LancasterHistory, 230 N. President Ave., Lancaster. The main presentation will begin at 4:30pm in Ryder Hall.

The program is free and open to the public but requires advance registration to guarantee a seat at the presentation. Register online by clicking “Get Tickets” below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Questions and accessibility requests may be directed to info@lancasterhistory.org or (717) 392-4633. Ticketholders should bring a paper printout of their tickets or be able to display their tickets on a cellphone or other internet-enabled device to check-in to the lecture.

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Book Signing Lecture Reception

February 20, 2020 Ryder Hall at LancasterHistory, 230 N. President Avenue 4pm Reception & Book Signing | 4:30pm Main Presentation FREE | Registration Required To Guarantee Seat