The American Civil War as a Conservative Revolution


In the 1860s, the United States underwent a violent revolution. Four and a half million enslaved people were freed, three quarters of a million people died, billions of dollars’ worth of property was expropriated, and the constitutional order remade. Yet in this lecture, Adam Smith argues that we can only understand these radical changes within the context of a politics that prioritised preservation of existing institutions and venerated the Republic’s founding moment, that embraced the future while being anchored in the past. The American Civil War provides a case study in how and why radical means can be harnessed for conservative ends.


This event is open to all and will be followed by a wine reception.