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Slavery and War in the Americas

Race, Citizenship, and State Building in the United States and Brazil, 1861-1870

Vitor Izecksohn

Publication Year: 2014

In this pathbreaking new work, Vitor Izecksohn attempts to shed new light on the American Civil War by comparing it to a strikingly similar campaign in South America--the War of the Triple Alliance of 1864-70, which galvanized four countries and became the longest large-scale international conflict in the history of the Americas. Like the Union in its conflict with the Confederacy, Brazil was faced with an enemy of inferior resources and manpower--in their case, Paraguay--that nonetheless proved extremely difficult to defeat. In both cases, the more powerful army had to create an elaborate war machine controlled by the central state to achieve victory.

While it was not the official cause of either conflict, slavery weighed heavily on both wars. When volunteers became scarce, both the Union and Brazilian armies resorted to conscription and, particularly in the case of the Union Army, the enlistment of freedmen of African descent. The consequences of the Union’s recruitment of African Americans would extend beyond the war years, contributing significantly to emancipation and reform in the defeated South.Taken together, these two major powers’ experiences reveal much about state building, army recruitment, and the military and social impact of slavery. The many parallels revealed by this book challenge the assumption that the American Civil War was an exceptional conflict.

A Nation Divided: Studies in the Civil War Era

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xiv

This work has been a long time in the making. It resulted from years of research and certain of my obsessions. In the beginning, grave illness was an unexpected complication. Thanks to many people and many academic, research, and medical institutions, I was able to overcome initial obstacles...

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pp. 1-6

The 1860s were difficult times for the Western Hemisphere’s two largest countries, the United States of America and the Brazilian Empire. During that decade, both nations were involved in long, costly struggles that challenged their national unity and their internal political cohesion. In...

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1. Military Traditions Confront Mass Mobilization in the United States and Brazil

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pp. 7-24

In Brazil and the United States, popular distrust of a professional military took root and grew from the late colonial period to the 1860s. Both societies developed suspicion, resentment, or opposition to national armies and favored local military units commanded by local officers. British North...

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2. The Crisis of the American Recruitment System: Union Army Recruitment, April 1861–July 1863

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pp. 25-59

On November 10, 1862, a hostile crowd surrounded William A. Pors, a longtime resident of the town of Port Washington in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, as he entered the courthouse. Weeks before, Pors, a local attorney, had been appointed the district draft commissioner by the Wisconsin governor...

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3. From Inertia to Insurgence: The Crisis in Brazilian Recruitment, 1865–1868

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pp. 60-91

In the early morning hours of August 22, 1865, a gang of about thirty armed men assaulted the jail in Ingá, a village in the Northeastern cotton province of Paraíba. The gang released all fifteen prisoners. Some of these men were undoubtedly criminals, but others had been conscripted into...

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4. Forged in Inequality: The Recruitment of Black Soldiers in the United States, September 1862–April 1865

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pp. 92-127

On February 6, 1864, Senator Orville Hickman Browning of Illinois, a long-time acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, visited the White House. In the course of conversation, as was customary among political allies, Browning asked the president if he could help a friend in trouble. The friend, Mrs. Fitz...

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5. Manumitting and Enlisting the Slaves in Brazil, December 1866–August 1868

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pp. 128-162

On November 14, 1867, José Jobim, a respected doctor and imperial political councilor wrote to his friend, Thomas Gomes, describing the misadventures of a recently acquired domestic slave, a young man named Carlos. Jobim had gone to a traditional slave market to buy a replacement...

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Conclusion: Processes, Effects, Distortions

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pp. 163-176

As the preceding chapters have demonstrated, both Brazil and the United States found themselves in unprecedented but similar situations in response to the wars of the 1860s. The critical need for troops and materials forced each nation-state to centralize to enforce military recruitment. The...


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pp. 177-215


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pp. 216-236


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pp. 237-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780813935867
E-ISBN-10: 0813935865
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813935850
Print-ISBN-10: 0813935857

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 4 b&w illus., 2 maps, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 881829931
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Slavery and War in the Americas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- African Americans.
  • Paraguayan War, 1865-1870 -- Blacks.
  • Brazil -- History, Military -- 19th century.
  • United States -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 19th century.
  • Brazil -- Race relations -- Political aspects -- History -- 19th century.
  • Nation-building -- History -- 19th century.
  • Slavery -- Political aspects -- History -- 19th century.
  • Soldiers, Black -- History -- 19th century.
  • Recruiting and enlistment -- History -- 19th century.
  • Citizenship -- History -- 19th century.
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