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Preface Our War xi On a business trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1998, I found myself on one of the streets radiating outward from the old state capitol. As I glanced at the capitol from a long distance, a tall column caught my attention. Upon that column was an armed figure with an erect and manly bearing. Even from afar, his outward form could not be mistaken for anything but a representation of a Confederate soldier; martial valor was the message. I uneasily scanned the pedestrians up and down the street, seeking the faces of my fellow citizens who had the most right to take offense at this statue. They were there, going about their business peacefully, as if they were in any other American city. In my mind was a thought best captured by Ulysses S. Grant, that Southerners had fought “long and valiantly” for a cause that was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought.”1 Years later, I left business, became a political scientist, and began studies that have led to this book. On a sunny day in the late summer of 2008, I was in Boston for an academic conference and decided to use my free time visiting the city’s colonial-­and revolutionary-­ era sites. I especially wanted to visit the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common, the central point of American republicanism, where our patriot fathers assembled in defiance of monarchic rule. Approaching on foot, I paused as if struck by a thunderbolt. Rising above everything else, above the magnificent figure of Washington on horseback, was a monument of an altogether different character from the one I remembered in Raleigh, and the sight of it caught me unaware. Although I had known nothing about the existence of this monument, from afar I instantly knew what it was, stopped walking, was overcome, and had to turn my face away. PREFACE OUR WAR xii For a long time after Aristotle made politics a distinct field of study, it was generally recognized that the first and most important duty of a political scientist was to identify clearly the parts and the whole of a given political society, especially who rules and by what ruling principle. This is sometimes a very difficult task. We must try to know the animating principle of the whole, the relationship of the whole and the parts, when and where the whole and the parts are coming together into greater concord, and when and where the parts are breaking away, like eddies that force a change in the direction of a river’s current, are split off into a new channel, or are reabsorbed into the main flow of the river, strengthening it. This is what all political societies do. The payoff of becoming deeply immersed in these studies is that we can recognize meaning in small details, even in aesthetics, that have been touched by organizing principles at work within the enveloping political society. For several years I had been immersing myself deeply enough in studies of the Civil War era that the minds and hearts of that past generation had become familiar to me. It was clear that what rose before me was a production of that generation, sprung from America’s republican cradle. Not a valorous soldier but a woman stands at the pinnacle of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Boston Common. Her posture expresses an otherworldly beauty, tenderness, and solemnity. She wears a crown of thirteen stars and cradles the American flag with one arm and with the other a drawn sword, point turned downward. This is no Winged Victory, with head held high. Rather, she gazes slightly below her, sorrowfully regarding her many lost sons from Boston. You will not find the thrill of conquest here or the commemoration of martial valor as an end in itself, but something higher, the commemoration of a hard-­ won peace and the vindication of America’s founding principle, the honorable end to which they dedicated their martial valor. While preparing the manuscript for this book, I learned that the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Boston was dedicated on Constitution Day, September 17, 1877, in an elaborate ceremony and after extensive efforts that began immediately after the conclusion of the war. When I read the remarks of keynote speaker Charles Devens, they did not surprise me. His remarks run parallel to the thesis of this book and the aesthetic character of the monument . “This is no Monument...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826273918
Related ISBN
9780826221353
MARC Record
OCLC
1005201029
Pages
419
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Language
English
Open Access
No
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