Dew wins book award for work on causes of Civil War

The Civil War Round Table of New York has named historian Charles B. Dew winner of the 2001 Fletcher Pratt Literary Award for his book “Apostles of Disunion.” This is the second time Dew has won the award. He also received a Fletcher Pratt Award for his book “Ironmaker of the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works.” The award is presented annually to the author or editor of the best non-fiction book on the Civil War published during the course of a calendar year.

“Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War” (University Press of Virginia) makes the provocative argument that slavery and race were “absolutely critical factors at the heart of our great national crisis.”

In the book, Dew reports on the speeches and writing of state-appointed commissioners who barnstormed across the South in late 1860 and early 1861 raising support for secession. He uncovers “a stark white supremacist ideology” that, he says, refutes neo-Confederate claims that slavery and race were only peripheral factors in leading to the war. “This penetrating study of the commissioners from seceded states who worked to persuade other states to leave the Union should put to rest for all time the oddly persistent notion that slavery was not the main cause of secession,” wrote Princeton University’s James M. McPherson. “Dew not only finds smoking gun evidence for the primacy of slavery; he reveals many smoking guns.”

Dew earned his B.A. from Williams College in 1958 and his Ph.D. in 1963 from Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, a University Fellow and a Samuel S. Fels Fellow. He has taught at Williams since 1977. He served as chair of the history department from 1986 to 1992 and as director of the Francis Christopher Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences from 1994 to 1997. He is the W. Van Alan Clark 1941 Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences.

Courtesy of OPA