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Reforging the White Republic

Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865–1898

Edward J. Blum

Publication Year: 2005

During Reconstruction, former abolitionists in the North had a golden opportunity to pursue true racial justice and permanent reform in America. But why, after the sacrifice made by thousands of Civil War patriots to arrive at this juncture, did the moment slip away, leaving many whites throughout the North and South more racist than before? Edward J. Blum takes a fresh look at this question in Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898, where he focuses on the vital role that religion played in reunifying northern and southern whites into a racially segregated society. He tells the fascinating story of how northern Protestantism, once the catalyst for racial egalitarianism, promoted the image of a "white republic" that conflated whiteness, godliness, and nationalism. A blend of history and social science, Reforging the White Republic offers a surprising perspective on the forces of religion as well as nationalism and imperialism at a critical point in American history.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War

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pp. ix-x

Writing this book has brought me great joy and great sorrow. I have been confronted by an America both beautiful and terrible. Along the way, my travels have been . . .

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INTRODUCTION: Race, Religion, and the Fracturing of the White Republic

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pp. 1-19

In 1867, the NewYork artist J. L. Giles engraved the image of a dream for the future of the United States. Its title, “Reconstruction,” was simple, but its vision was extraordinary. Giles . . .

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1. THE LAST AND GREATEST BATTLE OF FREEDOM: Race and the American Nation after the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

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pp. 20-50

Northerners had little to celebrate on Easter Sunday in 1865. A day usually set aside for cheer became an occasion for mourning and sorrow. New York City was draped in black, . . .

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2. ON THE VERGE OF HEAVEN: Religious Missions, Interracial Contact, and the Radicalism of Radical Reconstruction

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pp. 51-86

After serving as a doctor among African American soldiers during the Civil War, Esther Hawks was teaching black children in Charleston, South Carolina, when news of . . .

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3. THE APOSTLES OF FORGIVENESS: Religion and National Reunion in Northern Society, Popular Culture, and National Politics, 1865–1875

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pp. 87-119

For many missionaries to the South, northern newspapers and monthly magazines were highly coveted commodities. They provided social sustenance for the teachers and kept . . .

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4. INVENTOR OF LEGENDS MIRACULOUS: National Reconciliation and Racial Segregation during America’s Third Great Awakening

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pp. 120-145

During the tumultuous spring of 1865, when the war had ended but the fate of the nation remained undetermined, an interdenominational body of Protestant leaders in Missouri . . .

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5. THE WHITE FLAG WAVES: Spiritual Reunion and Genocidal Visions during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878

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pp. 146-173

Few southern whites were more passionate about or dedicated to the Confederacy and the Lost Cause than Father Abram J. Ryan, a Catholic priest and poet in New . . . .

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6. NO NORTH, NO SOUTH, NO SECTIONALISM IN POLITICS, NO SEX IN CITIZENSHIP: Race, Nationalism, and Gender Politics in the Rise of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

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pp. 174-208

Like many other southern white women after the Civil War, Belle Kearney often felt depressed about the condition of Dixie. Born in 1863 to an affluent family near Vernon, . . .

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7. TO THE PERSON SITTING IN DARKNESS: Global Missions, Religious Belief, and the Making of the Imperial White Republic

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pp. 209-243

On February 17, 1898, the United States lost its most powerful female leader. After battling anemia intermittently for several years and influenza for weeks, Frances Willard . . .

EPILOGUE: Dreaming of the White Republic, Defending the Souls of Black Folk

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pp. 244-249


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pp. 251-302


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pp. 303-344


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pp. 345-356


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E-ISBN-13: 9780807135839
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807132487

Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War