Mercer to Welcome University of Michigan History Professor Dr. Jon Wells for 60th Annual Lamar Lectures


MACON – Dr. Jonathan D. “Jon” Wells, professor of history at the University of Michigan, will deliver three lectures on the theme “Blind No More: Southern Slavery, Free Soil, and the Coming of the Civil War” as a part of Mercer University's 60th annual Lamar Lecture Series, the most prominent lecture series on Southern history and culture in the U.S.

The lectures, presented by Mercer's Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies, will take place Oct. 30-31 in the Presidents Dining Room, located inside the University Center on the Macon campus.

Dr. Wells, who also serves as director of Michigan's Residential College, teaches courses in both the Department of History and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies within the University. He earned by his Ph.D. and M.A. in American history from Michigan and his B.A. in American history from the University of Florida.

His opening lecture, “The Long Civil War: Slavery, African Americans, and Kidnapping,” is set for Oct. 30 at 10 a.m., followed by “The Fugitive Slave and the Sectional Crisis” Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. The series will conclude with “The End of the Compromise: Free Soil Americans and Disunion” Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. All lectures are free and open to the public.

“Dr. Jonathan Wells' timely lectures will explore the failed compromises to save the Union as northern abolitionists grew weary of the expansion of slavery in the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision,” said Dr. Doug Thompson, associate professor of history and director of the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies. “Dr. Wells is a gifted scholar and lecturer. The Center is delighted to bring him to Mercer's campus.”

Dr. Wells is the author or editor of 10 books, including The Origins of the Southern Middle Class: 1820-1861; Women Writers and Journalists in the Nineteenth-Century South; The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century; The Routledge History of Nineteenth-Century America; and A House Divided: The Civil War and Nineteenth-Century America.

He is currently working on two book projects related to the Fugitive Slave Crisis in the antebellum North.

The Lamar Lecture series, made possible through a bequest from the late Eugenia Dorothy Blount Lamar, began in 1957. The series promotes the permanent preservation of Southern culture, history and literature. Speakers have included nationally and internationally known scholars, such as Cleanth Brooks, James C. Cobb, Trudier Harris, Fred Hobson, Eugene Genovese and Eric Sundquist. The University of Georgia Press publishes the lectures each year.