Dr. T. Lloyd Benson is the Walter Kenneth Mattison Professor of History at Furman University. A native of Ithaca, New York, Benson joined the Furman faculty in 1990. He holds an A.A. degree from the State University of New York’s Empire State College and B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in history from the University of Virginia. Prior to coming to Furman, he also taught at Berry College and the University of Virginia. Benson is the author of numerous publications including The Caning of Senator Sumner and various articles about pre-Civil War American history, applications of digital technology to the liberal arts, and the use of geographic information systems for teaching and research. He has also developed several Internet projects that have placed a large number of late antebellum newspaper editorials and other nineteenth century documents online. He is currently developing a research project on the political rhetoric and geography of gender, family and household in six mid-nineteenth century Atlantic world cities. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Society of Civil War Historians, the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Indiana Historical Society and the Southern Historical Association. He lives in Tryon, North Carolina, with his wife Vicki and his daughter Eleanor.​

Name Title Description


US Civil War thru Biography

This seminar will examine the Civil War era using the perspective of biography. In addition to considering biographical interpretations of leaders such as Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass we will consider memoirs of ordinary participants and approaches such as collective biography. Students will, with guidance from the instructor, have an opportunity to research and write their own biographical interpretations of individuals from the period.


Assassination of Lincoln

A study of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in history, memory, and the documentary record. Evaluation of the event and it major actors, the trials and executions of the conspirators as well as popular reactions and historiographical interpretations. Participants will construct a web-based public documentary collection of newspaper transcriptions and other primary sources.


Secession and Fort Sumter

History of antebellum secession movements, the Sumter crisis and the coming of the American Civil War. Exploration of regional differences and evolving sectionalism in international and local contexts. Overview of conflict process theories. Examination of relevant ideologies, nationalism and tensions of emergent democracy. Impact of abolitionism, Proslavery, African American resistance and activism, debates over territorial expansion and federal-state relations.


The Battle Autumn of 1862

Autumn 1862 as a focal point placing the American Civil War in broader context. Topics include crux battles (Antietam/Sharpsburg/ the so-called Dakota War


Writing Freedom: US Abolition

In this course we will investigate some puzzles of emancipation and consider a broad array of abolitionist strategies for change. Why did emancipation take so long? Who was responsible for ending it? Which approaches seemed to catalyze change, and which hardened opposition? Why, in contrast to so many other nations in the Atlantic world, did American emancipation involve such a violent ending? How did abolition overlap with other efforts to extend human rights in the same era? What kinds of human rights were involved in emancipation, and which were left out? Did we complete emancipation's promise with the civil rights movement or is the process ongoing?


Life Writing

This seminar uses autobiography as a conduit to help students explore key developments in history and their own evolving sense of self. By reading a diverse group of autobiographical authors-male/female, white, African-American, Native-American, Hispanic, prominent/obscure, rich/poor-students will use the self-referential content of life writing to explore the dynamics of American history and its narrative nature while constructing their own life story over the course of the semester.


Early North America to 1877

North American history to 1877 in the context of western traditions and global interactions.


Nineteenth Century America

Survey of major events and trends in America from 1820-1890, along with focus on selected events and episodes and work with primary materials from the period. Major political, social, economic and cultural transformations, including conflicts over territorial expansion; sectionalism and nationalism; urban and industrial growth; changes in family, community, ethnicity, and spirituality. May include digital or archival components.


American Civil War Era

Examination of the Civil War as a political, cultural, economic and military phenomenon, with focus on the 1861-1865 period. Topics include: causation historiography, major battles and their political context, the role of ordinary Americans in the conflict, slavery and emancipation, economic effects, Reconstruction, and the war146s enduring place in national memory.


Urban History

In-depth historical analysis of cultural, economic, political, religious, technological, medical, & spatial factors intersecting at particular periods of urban development. Topics vary.


Empire and Imperialism

An in-depth exploration and historical analysis of the political, social, economic, cultural, and military background of a particular empire or imperialist power in world history. Topics vary.


Urban America

American Cities and Suburbs. Historical sources of growth and decline; dynamics of natural and built environments; neighborhoods and social space; factors of gender, class, and ethnicity; migration; urban exchange networks, hinterlands and suburbs; historical mechanisms of political power, urban planning; and cultural production. Emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Simulating Historic Community

Application of architectural modeling, GIS, and gaming technologies to simulation of historic communities in virtual reality. Collection and interpretation of local history evidence. Introduction to virtual modeling tools. Theories of interpretation. Focus on case studies of selected historical communities including Charleston, SC and Richmond, VA. Students will construct final projects based on these case study communities.


Episodes in NA Urban History

Sustained historical analysis of a particular event or theme relating to the urban history of selected cities in the United States, Canada, and/or Mexico. Consideration of urban historiography, approaches to community and local history, spatial dimensions, historical memory, and comparative history.


Senior Seminar in History

A required course for all majors. Discussion-based meetings will explore a specific historical topic and the related historiography. Students will conceive, design, and execute their own research project connected to the main topic of the seminar. All seminars include an assignment encouraging students to integrate and to reflect upon their varied classroom, travel study, and internship experiences over the course of the major.


  • The Caning of Senator Sumner (Wadsworth, June 2003)

Selected Other Publications

  • "Gender and Household Metaphors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Nation-Building Cities," in Confederate Cities: The Urban South During the Civil War Era, edited by Andrew L. Slap and Frank Towers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015).
  • "Ballots and Bullets: The Politics of Antietam and Chickamauga," Juniata College Voices 13 (2013): 23-57.
  • "Geo-History: Crowd-sourcing and Democratizing the Landscape of Battle," Journal of the Civil War Era 2: 4 (December 2012): 586-597.
  • "Teaching with the History Engine: Experiences from the Field," American Historical Review Perspectives (May 2009)
  • "Competition and Context in the Euro-Atlantic Mind," in Competition: A Multi-Disciplinary Synthesis, edited by Wade Worthen, A. Scott Henderson, Paul R. Rasmussen, and T. Lloyd Benson, 1-14 (Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 2009).
  • "Faculty Collaboration and Electronic Media: A Response," in Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities: Issues and Options, edited by James A. Inman, Cheryl Reed, and Peter Sand (Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, publishers, 2002)
  • "Information Technology and the Liberal Arts College," (Feature Article) in Technology Colloquium (August 1997)
  • "The Plain Folk of Orange: Land, Work, and Society in the Civil War Era," in The Edge of the South: Life in Nineteenth Century Virginia, edited by John C. Willis and Edward L. Ayers, 56-78 (University Press of Virginia, 1991)
  • "AutoCAD and the Historian," Cadence (April 1989).

Selected Presentations & Invited Talks

  • "Pennsylvania and the Swing States in the Election of 1862: Battlefield Casualties and Congressional Change," Pennsylvania Historical Society Annual Conference, 2013
  • "Local Collections and Liberal Education in History," Symposium of the National Institute for Technology in Higher Education, Arlington, Virginia (2012).
  • "The Midwestern Politics of the Army of the Cumberland," Fiddick Memorial Lecture, U. of Evansville (2011).
  • "'The Great Family of Nations:' Gender and Household Metaphors in the Political Rhetoric of Six Mid-Nineteenth Century Nation-building Cities," Civil War: Global Context Conference, Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World (2011).
  • "New Directions in Teaching the Early Republic," Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, (2010).
  • "Teaching with Mobile Technologies," NITLE (2010).
  • "The Fertile Ground: Family Structures and the Evolving Rhetoric of Secession in Late Antebellum Mississippi," Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting (2005)

On-Line Projects

  • Secession Era Editorials Project
  • Nineteenth Century Documents Project
  • NEH/ALA/SCHC "Let's Talk about It: Making Sense of the Civil War" South Carolina State Scholar, 2013
  • South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities' Teacher of the Year award for Furman (2009)
  • Alester G. and Janie Earle Furman Award for Meritorious Teaching (1998)
  • Association of Furman Students' Faculty Member of the Year (1994).
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