UN-CANCELED and MOVED ONLINE: “Divided Houses: The Long History of American Secession Movements,” with KICD Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow Ken Owen


An annual spring tradition at the Kinder Institute, the 2020 Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow Lecture will be delivered by Prof. Ken Owen (University of Illinois-Springfield), who will focus in his talk on the long history of non-Confederate secession movements in the United States (see abstract below). The talk will be held on May 1 at 3:30pm via Zoom, using this link, and it is part of our “Pursuit of Happiness Hour” Friday Colloquium Series, made possible with the support of Logboat Brewing Co. Contact Kinder Institute Communications Associate Thomas Kane, KaneTC@missouri.edu, for the Zoom password.


Almost as soon as America became a nation, groups of citizens debated leaving the United States and going it alone. Though the Confederate secession of 1860 has cast a long shadow over US history, dozens of movements before and after have contemplated secession. In this talk, Dr. Kenneth Owen will analyze why different breakaway movements have formed, why so few of them have attempted outright rebellion, and how these proto-independence movements have been used to debate and question the meaning of American identity. In so doing, he will show how secession movements have simultaneously threatened and structured the federal republic.

Kenneth Owen is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois Springfield. His research interests lie primarily in the political history of the United States, focusing particularly on the relationship between governments and the people. His published essays include discussions of political legitimacy, and of the political uses of violence in the early republic. Dr. Owen received his BA, MSt and DPhil from The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. Before arriving in the Midwest, he taught at the University of Sussex and Ohio University. His first book,  Political Community in Revolutionary Pennsylvania, 1774-1800, was published with Oxford University Press in 2018. Dr. Owen has additional teaching interests in digital history and the history of sports. He is a founding member of The Junto blog and the host of their podcast, The Juntocast. He will serve during AY 2019-20 as a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at the Kinder Institute, where he will be working on a project investigating the long history of secession movements within the United States.