Patriot Fires: Forging a New American Nationalism in the Civil War North / Edition 1

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Overview

The Civil War is often credited with giving birth to the modern American state. The demands of warfare led to the centralization of business and industry and to an unprecedented expansion of federal power. But the Civil War did more than that: as Melinda Lawson shows, it brought about a change in American national identity, redefining the relationship between the individual and the government.

Though much has been written about the Civil War and the making of the political and economic American nation, this is the first comprehensive study of the role that the war played in the shaping of the cultural and ideological nation-state. In Patriot Fires, Lawson explains how, when threatened by the rebellious South, the North came together as a nation and mobilized its populace for war.

With no formal government office to rally citizens, the job of defining the war in patriotic terms fell largely to private individuals or associations, each with their own motives and methods. Lawson explores how these "interpreters" of the war helped instill in Americans a new understanding of loyalty to country. Through efforts such as sanitary fairs to promote the welfare of soldiers, the war bond drives of Jay Cooke, and the establishment of Union Leagues, Northerners cultivated a new sense of patriotism rooted not just in the subjective American idea, but in existing religious, political, and cultural values. Moreover, Democrats and Republicans, Abolitionists, and Abraham Lincoln created their own understandings of American patriotism and national identity, raising debates over the meaning of the American "idea" to new heights.

Examining speeches, pamphlets, pageants, sermons, and assemblies, Lawson shows how citizens and organizations constructed a new kind of nationalism based on a nation of Americans rather than a union of states—a European-styled nationalism grounded in history and tradition and celebrating the preeminence of the nation-state.

Original in its insights and innovative in its approach, Patriot Fires is an impressive work of cultural and intellectual history.

This book is part of the American Political Thought series.

Author Biography: Melinda Lawson is visiting assistant professor at Union College in Schenectady, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Civil War History
Highly recommended.
American Historical Review
The issues raised in Lawson's book seem as fresh and relevant today as they were during the Civil War years.
Journal of American History
An original, provocative and compelling book [written] with a rare intelligence and much eloquence.
Mark E. Neely Jr.
A landmark contribution and the best work I have seen on nationalism in the North in the Civil War.
George M. Fredrickson
A finely crafted study that adds significantly to our understanding of how the War for the Union changed America's understanding of itself. . . . Deserves a wide audience.
David W. Blight
An original and important study.
J. Matthew Gallman
Should take its place among the important studies of the wartime North.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700614189
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

1 "A union love feast" : the sanitary fairs, Civil War patriotism, and national identity 14
2 Let the nation be your bank : Jay Cooke and the war bond drives 40
3 "From democracy to loyalty" : the partisan construction of national identity 65
4 "A profound national devotion" : the metropolitan union leagues 98
5 "Until the ideas of Massachusetts kiss the Gulf of Mexico," : the abolitionist vision of nation and patriotism 129
6 Abraham Lincoln and the construction of national patriotism 160
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