Keynote Speeches

The Orphan Mother Keynote

THE ORPHAN MOTHER is the story of a woman's quest for justice in the years following the Civil War. Mariah Reddick, a former slave, has quietly built a new life for herself as a midwife. Amidst the chaos of Reconstruction, her only child is murdered. How could this happen? Who wanted him dead? In this presentation, Hicks masterfully gives a voice to the powerless which is poignant and still relevant in the 21st Century America. Mariah’s unforgettable story provides hope and encouragement to anyone facing adversity can create a full and rich life. THE ORPHAN MOTHER sets the stage to discuss why The Civil War still matters to contemporary society.

-What can we learn from the post-Civil War Reconstruction Period of United States history?

-Can we transcend our circumstances as an individual or as a society?

-How to do we live our values?     

Why the Civil War Matters?

Robert Hicks, a leading authority and interpreter of the continuing relevance of the Civil War, has created the rich, thought-provoking and patriotic presentation “Why The Civil War Matters?” for the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War (2011-2014).  This keynote will fill you with deep appreciation and pride of our country’s rich history. You will be inspired by the remarkable people and astonishing events in Robert’s engaging and entertaining keynotes.

As we approach the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and the four years to follow, there will be much talk among historians and those interested in the Civil War about this battle or that battle. There will be much rehashing of the events and personalities that made up those four tumultuous and bloody years. Yet, for the rest of America – those who are neither historians or re-enactors – is there any real reason to keep looking backwards? Does the American Civil War still have any value or impact as to who we are, what this nation is, good or bad? The truth is, if the line to immigrate into this country is longer than the line to immigrate into any other country on earth, it is because of the American Civil War. The American Civil War is not something reserved for those whose ancestors fought on one side or the other or because our ancestors were freed from enslavement. The American Civil War is important if you came over from Ecuador last year. For if you are throwing your lot with this country the American Civil War is at the foundation of why, whether you ever understand it or not. My goal is to help us understand why the Civil War matters at this time in our history as much as it ever has, if not more. If we are to remain that nation that 620,000 men and boys died for, we must understand what they gave us through their sacrifice.

The Widow of the South Keynote

This keynote is based on the New York Times bestselling book and Robert makes the characters and our country come alive in this difficult period in our nation’s history…In 1894 Carrie McGavock is an old woman who has only her former slave to keep her company…and the almost 1,500 soldiers buried in her backyard. Years before, rather than let someone plow over the field where these young men had been buried, Carrie dug them up and reburied them in her own personal cemetery. In an extraordinary keynote, based on a remarkable true story, Robert Hicks draws an unforgettable, panoramic portrait of a woman who, through love and loss, found a cause. Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," The novel flashes back thirty years to the afternoon of the Battle of Franklin, five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War. There were 9,200 casualties that fateful day. Carrie's home -- the Carnton plantation -- was taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a hospital; four generals lay dead on her back porch; the pile of amputated limbs rose as tall as the smoke house.  This keynote is about a remarkable personal transformation and how Americans can be inspired to make a difference in our modern world.  It’s a wonderful story of our country’s rich history and engaging discussion of legacy ofthe American Civil War.  

A Separate Country Keynote

Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A SEPARATE COUNTRY is a novel based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army - and one of its most tragic figures. Robert E. Lee promoted him to major general after the battle of Antietam. But the Civil War would mark him forever. At Gettysburg, he lost the use of his left arm. At the Battle of Chickamauga, his right leg was amputated. Starting fresh after the war, he married Anna Marie Hennen and fathered 11 children with her, including three sets of twins. But fate had other plans. Crippled by his war wounds and defeat, ravaged by financial misfortune, Hood had one last foe to battle: Yellow Fever. 

A SEPARATE COUNTRY is the heartrending story of a decent and good man who struggled with his inability to admit his failures - and the story of those who taught him to love, and to be loved, and transformed him.

Other Programs

Super Session: The Widow of the South

In this “insiders” presentation, Robert weaves the inspiring story  told in the New York Times Bestseller “The Widow of the South” with beautiful video and native music of the Carnton Historic Plantation. This multimedia program will take you on a journey into a unique and meaningful period of our country’s history. As in his keynote, you will walk away feeling like you know Carrie McGavock, Mariah and the soldiers brought to the make-shift Civil War hospital at Carnton Historic Plantation. The program is typically 60 to 90 minutes in length and includes a Question and Answer segment.

On-location in Franklin, TN

Robert and the Carnton Historic Plantation are available for small (50 capacity) indoor meetings or larger tent-style events filled with history, music and a ton of southern hospitality you will not find anywhere else. Perfect for entertainment night, special private dinners or spouse outings. You will not want to miss standing on the front porch of the plantation as Carrie McGavock and so many Civil War soldiers did over 100 years ago. Robert makes Carnton Historic Plantation come alive thru his amazing stories of the people, property and music as well as his knowledge of the preservation efforts. It’s a relaxing setting that will be informative and entertaining experience.

Author Events

Robert is available to host an informal and fun discussion on his books, the plantation, The Battle of Franklin and the people who have lived at Carnton Historic Plantation and their impact on our history. This discussion is what we like to call “the back porch talks” is filled with handed-down stories, town gossip and just plain old hearsay on the McGavock family, plantation, the Battle of Franklin, the Confederate cemetery.

Availability & Fees

Please contact Violet Cieri at 615-279-0108 or for availability fees and additional information.