In 2015 the Richards Center joined with the University of Calgary in organizing an international conference, Remaking North American Sovereignty: Towards a Continental History of State Transformation in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. The conference took place from July 30 to August 1 at Canada’s renowned Banff Centre, an incubator for artistic, cultural, and intellectual projects. Convening amidst the 150th anniversaries of the end of the U.S. Civil War (1865), Canadian Confederation (1867), the restoration of the Mexican Republic (1867), and the prosecution of wars and signing of treaties between these states and Native Americans, the conference discussed shared patterns of change that remade the North American map in the 1860s. More than 60 leading scholars attended from Canada, England, Mexico, and the United States to pioneer a hemispheric approach to studying the profound social, political, and governmental transformations that took place throughout the continent in the Civil War era. As the conference organizers explained, the event allowed scholars the opportunity to examine “the real interconnections across the continent” to see “an inter-related struggle to re-define the relationship of North Americans to new governments.” Plans are under way to publish material from the conference in various venues, including in a special issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era titled Crises of Sovereignty in the 1860s.
Co-sponsor Frank Towers, Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary, noted that “the event exceeded expectations for all involved” and thanked the Richards Center for “playing the lead role in funding the conference” and making it possible.
The Richards Center’s co-sponsorship of the conference was made possible through the NEH’s We the People challenge grant.