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Illusions of Empire: The Civil War and Reconstruction in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

January 3

Dr. William “Billy” Kiser

Associate Professor of History,
Department Chair,
Texas A&M University—San Antonio


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During the Civil War, Mexico’s North overlapped with the U.S. Southwest in the context of diplomacy and military operations.  A disparate group of historical actors vied for power and control along the U.S.-Mexico border: Union and Confederate army officers and political leaders, regional Indian tribes, diplomatic agents, and territorial officials. Their unconventional approaches to foreign relations demonstrate the complex ways that individuals influence the course of global affairs and reveal that borderlands simultaneously enable and stifle the growth of empires.

Billy Kiser is originally from Las Cruces and graduated from New Mexico State University before going on to earn his doctorate in history at Arizona State University in 2016.  He is currently an associate professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.  He is the author of five books on nineteenth-century New Mexico history:  Turmoil on the Rio Grande (2011); Dragoons in Apacheland (2013); Borderlands of Slavery (2017); Coast-to-Coast Empire (2019); and Illusions of Empire (2021).  His next book, to be published by Yale University Press, examines Indian scalp bounties and “scalp warfare” across the North American frontiers from the 1600s to the 1800s.
This presentation is drawn from Dr. Kiser’s most recent book, Illusions of Empire: The Civil War and Reconstruction in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (2021). It is available from the University of Pennsylvania Press ( or through your local bookshop ((bookshop, org).


January 3
Event Category:


In-person walking tour
113 Lincoln Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501 United States


Friends of History
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