American Civil War Round Table of Australia

American Civil War RT NSW


We meet regularly in Sydney NSW


I welcome you to our website on behalf of all our members. Our Round Table was constituted in its present form in 1999 following a number of meetings of a small group of people in Sydney with a common interest and fascination with America’s Civil War.


Membership now encompasses a wide range of interests with most of our members having little or no formal academic studies in history but all with a desire to gain further knowledge and understanding of the events in 1860s America.

Newsletter / Meetings

This Website contains copies of our newsletter, ‘Sumter to Appomattox‘, a selection of the papers presented at our regular meetings and some other short papers prepared by our members on subjects of wide interest. I encourage you to access these materials – if you like them, tell your friends, if you don’t like them, tell us!

Our meetings are every two months on a Monday. The normal venue for the meetings is: Magpies Club, 11-37 Alexandria Parade, Waitara NSW 2077 – close to the railway station. The meetings are scheduled to commence at 7:00pm, although members normally meet at the Club from 6pm for a bistro style meal and convivial discussion on matters of mutual interest.

We are a group of friends from all walks of life who share a quirky interest in the events of the American Civil War, its causes and its consequences.  We’re not all academics – some of us know a lot and others are using the group to develop their knowledge and understanding.

The ACWRTA-NSW Chapter is a non-profit organisation depending entirely on members’ annual subscriptions and contributions to support our meetings and conference programs, this website and our newsletters. Should you wish to learn more about our Round Table group please access the Contact Us part of this Website.

Ian McIntyre

Patron: Hon Prof Bob Carr

This talk presented as an introduction to our course at WEA Sydney “Origins of the American Civil War – How did it come to this?” by our Honorary Life Member Len Traynor, Fellow of the Company of Military Historians (USA).

Course contents include:

Nature of Civil Wars
Early settlers to North America and the values they took with them. Divergent groups sowing the seeds of future conflict.
The Enlightenment. Shift in the moral compass. How the ideas found their way to America.
Colonial America Prospers. With vast lands to farm, growing populations, and ready markets, America prospered.

Read more
  • Colonial America Prospers. With vast lands to farm, growing populations, and ready markets, America prospered.
  • George Washington and the French and Indian War. The structure of colonial society and limits of representation.
  • Apostles of the Revolution. Resistance to taxation and government interference generally. Leading personalities of the American rebellion and how they set the course for the future.
  • Victory at Yorktown. The first civil war. How the Revolution was won and how this influenced the structures that emerged.
  • Jefferson, slavery and military. Thomas Jefferson played a significant part in shaping the emerging nation, yet was compromised.
  • Declaration of Independence, Constitutional Conventions, 1781 Articles of Confederation and 1789 Constitution. The founding documents evolved to allocate responsibilities between the states and central institutions. States’ rights. Slavery clauses.
  • Manifest Destiny. Westward Expansion and the conflicts over whether the federal government should limit slavery in the new territories
  • Missouri Compromise 1820. Attempt to keep the Congress balanced.
  • Racism and abolitionists – Formation of Abolitionist Societies, Racism and conflicts
  • King Cotton and Sectionalism. The significance of cotton to America. Economic differences between north and south. Sectionalism.
  • Andrew Jackson. “King Andrew” and the common man. Native Americans. Banking problems.
  • Failure of Congress. The role played by “honor”, bullying, fighting and duelling in Congress in preventing a long-term solution emerging in the 1830s and 40s.
  • English and American Slave legal cases. How the law evolved in England and the US. Wilberforce, how cases influenced the debate
  • Underground Railway and Southern frustration. Growing frustration of Southerners at the failure of the fugitive slave laws and respect for their ‘property’.
  • Acquisition of the South-West. Texas joins the Union. Mexican War. Free Soil Party. Wilmott Proviso 1846.Compromise of 1850. 1854 Kanas-Nebraska Act. Republican Party.
  • John Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Illustrating the different roles played by Congressmen.
  • President Franklin Pierce. President 1853-1857. Nomination processes and issues arising.
  • Whigs, Democrats, Free Soilers, Know Nothings and the rise of the Republican Party. Political parties before the war.
  • James Buchanan. The promise, partisanship and failure of the 15th President
  • Chief Justice Taney and Dred Scott decision. Supreme Court’s most disastrous decision ever.
  • Lecompton Constitution. John Brown and Harper’s Ferry. The implications of these for the coming war.
  • Rise of Abraham Lincoln. Background. A House Divided. At the Cooper Union.
  • US in 1860. Comparison of resources immediately before the War.
  • Lincoln’s election and cabinet. Issues. Four-way results. Cabinet members. Inauguration and reaction.
  • Southern Secession. Reasons. Constitution of Confederate States. Cornerstone speech.

For more about this course: