Anyone who studies the Civil War in any depth will end up studying the decades-long lead-up to it. But study it long enough, and you'll eventually be studying the decades-long aftermath as well. @Pat Young is providing wonderful service here with his "Reconstruction 150" work, sharing information about Reconstruction as we hit one 150-year milestone after another. Perhaps there should also be a "Westward Expansion 150" project. After all, the triggering issue of the Civil War -- the issue that inspired the formation of the Republican party in 1854 and won Lincoln the presidency in the election of 1860 -- was the question of whether or not slavery would be allowed to expand into the new western territories. Once the Civil War had settled that question, the westward expansion accelerated, with the U.S. Army -- most of whom were Civil War veterans -- providing the protection for white settlers making incursions into Native territory. The great war against the Lakota -- which I would date from 1868 to 1877 (although others might set the dates differently) overlaps almost perfectly, I am sad to say, with the presidency of my longtime hero Ulysses Grant.