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Lincoln's Unfinished Work

Lincoln’s Unfinished Work: Wednesday, Nov. 28 - Saturday, Dec. 1

More than 40 internationally renowned scholars will speak at this conference. Their addresses, panel presentations and discussions are free and open to the university community and general public.


Schedule by Date (click to view)

Wednesday, Nov. 28 – Opening Plenary Session, Tillman Hall Auditorium

Thursday, Nov. 29 - Watt Family Innovation Center

Friday, Nov. 30 - Watt Family Innovation Center

Saturday, Dec. 1 - Watt Family Innovation Center

Tillman Hall Auditorium

Wednesday, November 28, as a preconference event anticipating the Lincoln’s Unfinished Work Conference (, renowned Lincoln scholar Dr. Richard Carwardine will speak at 11am at Cooper Library in the Byrnes Room. The title of his talk is “A Just Laughter: The Moral Springs of Lincoln’s Humor”. Dr. Richard Carwardine is the President of Corpis Christi College in Oxford, and has won numerous awards for his scholarship including the Lincoln Prize.

5 p.m. Opening Plenary Session

Introduction: Vernon Burton (Clemson University) 
Welcome: Robert H. Jones, (Provost, Clemson University)

  • Eric Foner (Columbia University, Emeritus), "The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Changed the Constitution"
  • Randall Kennedy (Harvard University Law School), "Optimism and Pessimism in the African American Racial Imagination"

All Sessions at Watt Family Innovation Center

9 a.m. Lincoln and His Unfinished Work

  • Lawrence McDonnell (Iowa State University), “Lincoln, Du Bois’ ‘General Strike’ and the Making of an American Working Class”
  • Kate Masur (Northwestern University), “They Knew Lincoln: Writing the History of African Americans and Lincoln During the New Deal Era”
  • Edna Greene Medford (Howard University), "The Unsettled Relation Between the 'Great Emancipator' and the Emancipated"

10:40 a.m. New Perspectives on Lincoln

  • Richard Carwardine (Corpus Christi College, Oxford University), “Humor and Statesmanship: Learning From Lincoln’s Example”
  • Steven Kantrowitz (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Looking at Lincoln From the Effigy Mound”
  • Stephen Berry (University of Georgia), “Lincoln Past, Lincoln Present, Lincoln Future”


2 p.m. The Unfinished Work of Reconstruction

  • Adrienne Petty and Mark Schultz (William & Mary University/Lewis University), "Breaking New Ground: African American Landowners and the Pursuit of the American Dream"
  • J. Drew Lanham (Clemson University), "Land Legacy and Lost Freedom: What Losing 40 Acres and a Mule Cost a People"
  • Bennett Parten (Yale University), "Blow Ye Trumpet Blow: The Idea of Jubilee in Slavery and Freedom"

3:40 p.m. Lincoln's International and Media Legacy

  • Don H. Doyle (University of South Carolina, Emeritus), "Reconstruction in International Perspective"
  • William Lasser (Clemson University), "Abraham Lincoln, National Sovereignty, and the Growth of the European Union"
  • Joshua Casmir Catalano (Clemson University), "From Ken Burns' 'The Civil War' to History's 'Ancient Aliens': Lincoln's Unfinished Work on Cable Television"

5:15 p.m. The Unfinished Work of the Southern Historical Landscape

  • Rhondda Robinson Thomas (Clemson University), “Honoring the Lives and Contributions of Enslaved Persons, Sharecroppers, and Convict Laborers is Clemson University’s Unfinished Work”

5:45 p.m. Public History After Charlottesville, a Roundtable

All Sessions at Watt Family Innovation Center

9 a.m. Reconstructions Past and Present

  • J. Brent Morris (University of South Carolina Beaufort), “The Spirit of ’76: Coup d’Etat, Dual Government, and the ‘Unfinished Work’ of Reconstuction”
  • Gregory P. Downs (University of California, Davis), “A Finished Revolution: Military Force, Legitimacy and the Making of the New Constitution”
  • J. William Harris (University of New Hampshire), “The Still Unfinished Work of Reconstruction”

10:40 a.m. The Unfinished Work of Education and Religion

  • Christopher M. Span (University of Illinois), “Second Chances: Legislative Efforts to Establish Education as a Fundamental Right Following the Civil War”
  • William Hine (South Carolina State University, Emeritus), “Abraham Lincoln's Great Society and its Legacy”
  • Randall J. Stephens (University of Oslo, Norway), “Evangelicals and Race: From the Age of Lincoln to the Second Reconstruction”


1:30 p.m. Documenting the South Carolina Civil Rights Movement

  • Cecil Williams (Cecil Williams Photography, LLC, Orangeburg, S.C.) “The South Carolina Civil Rights Movement: Reflections of a Photographer and Activist”

2 p.m. Lincoln's Legacy: Race in 20th and 21st Century America

  • Robyn Spencer (Lehman College), “In the Shadow of Lincoln: The Black Panther Party Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention and the Second Reconstruction”
  • Jerald Podair (Lawrence University), “The Intersectional Lincoln: Race, Free Labor, and Color-Blind Democracy in His Time and Ours"
  • Peter Eisenstadt (Independent historian and author), “Howard Thurman to Karl Downs to Jackie Robinson: Integration Reaches Second Base”

3:40 p.m. Unfinished Work: Gender, Sexual Identity, and Equality

  • Marjorie Spruill (University of South Carolina, Emerita), "Waiting and Working for the 'Women's Hour': Thoughts on the Progress Toward Women's Equality Since 1865"
  • Kwame Holmes (University of Colorado Boulder), "The Unfinished Second Reconstruction: Black Civil Rights, Women's and Gay Liberation"
  • Catherine Clinton (University of Texas at San Antonio), "Lincoln's Legacy and the #MeToo Movement"

5:20 p.m. Unfinished Work of the Vote

  • Paul Finkelman (Gratz College), “The Right to Vote, Civic Duties, and Voter Suppression: From the 17th Century to the 21st Century”
  • Gavin Wright (Stanford University), "Voting Rights and Economics in the American South"
  • Armand Derfner (Derfner and Altman, Charleston), “Reflections of a Civil Rights and Voting Rights Lawyer”
  • Vernon Burton (Clemson University), "Reflections on Taking History to Court"

All Sessions at Watt Family Innovation Center

9 a.m. New Perspectives on the Black Experience

UPDATE: Luncheon address by Heather Cox Richardson, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 1, Watt Center*
Lecture is open to all. Light lunch may be limited to the first 100 registrants.

  • Darlene Clark Hine (Michigan State University), "Black Women Professionals and the Preservation of Freedom"
  • Nicholas Gaffney (Northern Virginia Community College), “The Jazz Tradition and the Sound of Lincoln’s Pragmatic New Beginning”
  • Matthew Long (Clemson University), “Mutual Aid and the Second Line: A History of Black Benevolent Societies and New Orleans Music”

10:40 a.m. The Unfinished Work of Freedom

  • Thavolia Glymph (Duke University), "Freedom's Price Revisited: Transactional Data and the Business of Making American Freedom"
  • Steve Hahn (New York University), "What Was Lincoln's America?"

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. SC Rural Social Action Team Presentations

12:30 p.m. Luncheon in the Watt Center Atrium

For Public School Teachers Only

1:45-5:30 p.m. Workshop: "How to Teach About the History of Race Relations in Secondary Schools"(Watt Center Room 208, accommodates up to 70 people)

  • After the Saturday luncheon and keynote, sociologist James W. Loewen (University of Vermont, Emeritus), historian Vernon Burton (Clemson University), Bobby Donaldson (University of South Carolina), Carmen Harris (USC Upstate), and history graduate student Amanda Arroyo (Clemson University) led a workshop for public school teachers, including those with SC Rural Social Action Team, on teaching about the history of race relations in secondary schools.

The Lincoln’s Unfinished Work conference and workshop, co-directed by Vernon Burton and independent historian Peter Eisenstadt, are made possible by the generous support of the Congressional Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation; Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc.; South Carolina Humanities; Self Family Foundation; University South Carolina Society; Jean Soman; Friends of the Library and Special Collections of the College of Charleston; and, at Clemson University, Office of Inclusion and Equity; Watt Family Innovation Center; Humanities Hub; College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities; Department of History and Geography; Matthew J. Perry Distinguished Chair of History; Clemson University Libraries; Department of Economics; Department of English; Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice; Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management; Department of Political Science; Pearce Center for Professional Communication; Calhoun Honors College; Department of Historic Properties; History Graduate Student Association; Rutland Institute for Ethics;  Pan African Studies program; Department of Philosophy and Religion; and Clemson University Press.