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A Shattered Nation

The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, 1861-1868

Anne Sarah Rubin

Publication Year: 2005

Historians often assert that Confederate nationalism had its origins in pre@-Civil War sectional conflict with the North, reached its apex at the start of the war, and then dropped off quickly after the end of hostilities. Anne Sarah Rubin argues instead that white Southerners did not actually begin to formulate a national identity until it became evident that the Confederacy was destined to fight a lengthy war against the Union. She also demonstrates that an attachment to a symbolic or sentimental Confederacy existed independent of the political Confederacy and was therefore able to persist well after the collapse of the Confederate state. White Southerners redefined symbols and figures of the failed state as emotional touchstones and political rallying points in the struggle to retain local (and racial) control, even as former Confederates took the loyalty oath and applied for pardons in droves. Exploring the creation, maintenance, and transformation of Confederate identity during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Rubin sheds new light on the ways in which Confederates felt connected to their national creation and provides a provocative example of what happens when a nation disintegrates and leaves its people behind to forge a new identity. Historians often assert that Confederate nationalism had its origins in pre-Civil War sectional conflict with the North, reached its apex at the start of the war, and then dropped off quickly after the end of hostilities. Anne Sarah Rubin argues instead that white Southerners did not actually begin to formulate a national identity until it became evident that the Confederacy was destined to fight a lengthy war against the Union. She also demonstrates that an attachment to a symbolic or sentimental Confederacy existed independent of the political Confederacy and was therefore able to persist well after the collapse of the Confederate state. White Southerners redefined symbols and figures of the failed state as emotional touchstones and political rallying points in the struggle to retain local (and racial) control, Rubin argues, even as former Confederates took the loyalty oath and applied for pardons in droves. Cloth sales = 1430, remaining stock to go OP/OS. Exploring the creation, maintenance, and transformation of Confederate identity during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Rubin sheds new light on the ways in which Confederates felt connected to their national creation and provides a provocative example of what happens when a nation disintegrates and leaves its people behind to forge a new identity. Historians often assert that Confederate nationalism had its origins in pre–Civil War sectional conflict with the North, reached its apex at the start of the war, and then dropped off quickly after the end of hostilities. Anne Sarah Rubin argues instead that white Southerners did not actually begin to formulate a national identity until it became evident that the Confederacy was destined to fight a lengthy war against the Union. She also demonstrates that an attachment to a symbolic or sentimental Confederacy existed independent of the political Confederacy and was therefore able to persist well after the collapse of the Confederate state. White Southerners redefined symbols and figures of the failed state as emotional touchstones and political rallying points in the struggle to retain local (and racial) control, even as former Confederates took the loyalty oath and applied for pardons in droves. Exploring the creation, maintenance, and transformation of Confederate identity during the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Rubin sheds new light on the ways in which Confederates felt connected to their national creation and provides a provocative example of what happens when a nation disintegrates and leaves its people behind to forge a new identity.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I first began working on this project as a seminar paper in the spring of 1994. Along the way, I have amassed a collection of debts that I can never repay. So many people have helped me with this book, providing advice, suggestions, and support. This list is, I am quite sure, wholly inadequate, and I apologize for leaving anyone out. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

It sometimes seems that the Confederacy is more alive today than it was in the 1860s. Conflicts over its imagery and symbols—its flags, its leaders, its memorial culture—have been almost constant over the past several years. These battles are all arguments about the meaning of the Confederacy, about the relevance that it has or does not have today. ...

I: War

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1. A Religious Patriotism: The Culture of Confederate Identity

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pp. 11-42

The Confederate nation appeared to be born fully formed, going from vague idea to reality over a matter of weeks. South Carolina seceded on 20 December 1860, followed rapidly by the six other lower South states. The Montgomery Convention met in February, drafted its permanent Constitution quickly, and by the summer of 1861 the provisional government was ensconced in Richmond. ...

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Interlude: A Hope Fully Authorized by the Facts

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pp. 43-49

By the summer of 1862, the war that was supposed to last for only weeks was over a year old, and those Confederates who looked beyond the platitudes and boasting that filled the pages of their newspapers had to know that there was no end in sight. ...

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2. Love of Country, Love of Self: Challenges to Confederate Unity

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pp. 50-79

While Confederates from all stations and locations imagined themselves living in an independent, united, and virtuous nation, the reality of their daily lives did not always match that ideal. It was easy to pledge loyalty to the death in the abstract, more difficult to hold onto principles when faced with hostile soldiers, starvation, and death. ...

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Interlude: Only Not a Victory

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pp. 80-85

The summer of 1863 has long been seen as the turning point of the war. The double Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July, the fact that the Confederacy never again controlled the Mississippi or crossed the Potomac, the eloquence of Lincoln at Gettysburg in November have all conspired to make this the moment when the war hung in the balance. ...

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3. Enemies Like an Avalanche: Yankees, Slaves, and Confederate Identity

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pp. 86-111

As the Confederacy willed itself into being, it faced a variety of challenges. Confederates created their identity under constant assault, and that identity was ever changing. As many new nations do, they defined themselves in opposition to others. Yankees and slaves, in particular, threatened Confederates’ sense of self in different ways, ...

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Interlude: Peace (with Independence Always)

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pp. 112-116

As they had for three years, Confederates acted on their perceptions of events much more than on what we, with the benefit of hindsight, would deem reality. For as long as they possibly could, they cast defeats and retreats in a positive light. ...

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4. Blue-Black Is Our Horizon: The End of the War

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pp. 117-138

The Confederate struggle for statehood came to an abrupt end in the early spring of 1865, but Confederates’ sense of national identity would prove more flexible and resilient. For four years, Confederate armies had been able to hold off the Union; for four years, Confederate civilians had believed that they could work together, overcome obstacles, and build a nation. ...

II: Reconstruction

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5. Nursing the Embers: Race and Politics during Reconstruction

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pp. 141-163

As the shock of defeat wore into a sense of angry resignation, white Southerners turned to more personal concerns—rebuilding their lives, farms, or businesses, adjusting to the deaths of loved ones and friends, coming to terms with emancipation and new relationships with African Americans. ...

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Interlude: To Receive the Oath and Brand of Slave

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pp. 164-171

The issue of whether to take an oath of allegiance to the United States struck at the heart of questions of self and nation in the Reconstruction South. It was an intrinsically personal decision, though one with powerful collective implications. ...

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6. To Restore Their Broken Fortunes: Reconstructing White Southern Identity

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pp. 172-200

During the summer of 1865, a piece in the Montgomery Advertiser drew a distinction between "Young America," the "fast young man of the glorious United States," and the new "Young South," born in 1860 or 1861, "very hopeful and full of life." Young America was somewhat of a rake—he could be a dashing filibusterer or "an unmitigated vagabond and villain" ...

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Interlude: The Vicarious Sufferer

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pp. 201-207

Northern treatment of Jefferson Davis after the war transformed white Southerners’ opinions of him. Whether they had liked or disliked him, thought him an inspiring executive or a petty tyrant, white Southerners were united in outrage at his plight. ...

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7. Who Shall Subjugate the Women? Gender and White Southern Identity

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pp. 208-239

Just as the war and its aftermath forced a redefinition of Confederate into Southern or American identity, so, too, did it challenge Southern notions of appropriate gender roles. During the war, women had expanded their sphere of sanctioned activity from the privacy of the household to the public world of nursing, charity, and work. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 240-248

In March 1867, David Schenck, a thirty-two-year-old lawyer in Lincolnton, North Carolina, sat down with his diary, wrote the heading ‘‘Stevens Bill for Reconstruction (so called),’’ and proceeded to record ‘‘the chronicle of a nation’s and a peoples degradation, and of myself as one of that unfortunate body politic.’’ ...

Notes

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pp. 249-294

Bibliography

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pp. 295-314

Index

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pp. 315-319


E-ISBN-13: 9781469604831
E-ISBN-10: 1469604833
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807829288
Print-ISBN-10: 0807829285

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 10 illus.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Civil War America