- The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship ed. by Paul Quigley
This edited collection offers fresh takes on an old question: How did citizenship evolve in the Civil War era? Following the lead of scholar Laura F. Edwards, the authors answer the question by providing examples of everyday people using intricate networks of relationships to individuals, communities, and local, state, and federal governments alternately in place of legal citizenship and as a means to attain recognition of legal citizenship. As befitting a collection written on the Civil War era in this day and age, this book laudably avoids the all-too-common black men–white men binary, including two chapters that focus on black women, and one on Chinese immigrants and Native Americans.
Elizabeth Regosin and Tamika Y. Nunley use the stories of black women's dealings with governmental agencies and federal officials to demonstrate that during and after the war African Americans attempted to claim freedom and citizenship (both community centered and legally recognized) through official channels and "their own system of redress," circumventing racial and gendered parameters of societal belonging (59). As women, they were most often defined by their relationship to white owners, black husbands, or sexual partners, yet these interactions with the state gave them a legibility not afforded them previously, providing them a voice in the historical record.
Jonathan M. Berkey urges us to consider another brand of citizenship, "affective citizenship," which was tied to familial and communal connection. For the people of Winchester, Virginia, this type of belonging routinely overrode formal citizenship and its accompanying privileges. By framing loyalty oaths within the language of citizenship, Berkey allows for an exploration of Confederate sentiment connected to more than just resistance to Union occupation or devotion to individual family members [End Page 324] serving in the Confederate army, but rather to a community's negotiation of movement, allegiance, and capitulation. In a different approach, Angela M. Zombek examines Confederate prisoners, most of whose decisions regarding Union oath-taking were made with a view toward improving their individual circumstances, rather than staying true to any community or regional-based loyalty. This, Zombek concludes, reflects American traditions of individuality, which weakened as Federal power grew throughout the war.
Lucius Wedge examines those who possessed a unique take on the issue of loyalty oaths—those who refused these sworn statements on the basis that their overriding governmental relationship was with God and the "Kingdom of Heaven." In looking at citizenship "in terms of social and cultural meaning," Wedge utilizes a key connection between Christianity and American democratic exceptionalism to discuss a largely overlooked minority, as well as President Andrew Johnson's views on loyalty and governance (138). Earl M. Maltz's piece juxtaposes the Native American domestic dependent with the Chinese "alien." Through this comparison, Maltz gives us insight into the conversations that shaped and qualified Republicans' desire for the Fourteenth Amendment to apply broadly. Maltz argues that congressional considerations for and against Native Americans' inclusion in the Fourteenth Amendment revolved around degrees of jurisdiction, while those pertaining to Chinese immigrants focused on cultural difference. Maltz, Berkey, and Zombek raise the idea that "defining another individual as a citizen could be a highly coercive act," problematizing our usual assumptions of citizenship as unequivocally positive (11).
Caitlin Verboon offers a particularly interesting take on masculinity and citizenship in the public sphere. Black men used volunteer firefighting to embody a new sense of emancipated masculinity and reciprocal citizenship. Verboon contends that black firefighters were able to use their duties as public servants to symbolically and literally perform citizenship as it related to communal and governmental duty. David C. Williard's piece also takes on the connection between labor and gender. Williard suggests that for Confederate veterans facing a failed insurgency tied so deeply to their sense of self, the solution was to use productive labor to establish new ties to their communities and nation. Ex-Confederates used their work as literal rebuilders of the South to regain their...