The Civil War thrust Americans onto unfamiliar terrain, as two competing societies mobilized for four years of bloody conflict. Concerned Northerners turned to the print media for guidance on how to be good citizens in a war that hit close to home but was fought hundreds of miles away. They read novels, short stories, poems, songs, editorials, and newspaper stories. They laughed at cartoons and satirical essays. Their spirits were stirred in response to recruiting broadsides and patriotic envelopes. This massive cultural outpouring offered a path for ordinary Americans casting around for direction. Examining the breadth of Northern popular culture, J. Matthew Gallman offers a dramatic reconsideration of how the Union's civilians understood the meaning of duty and citizenship in wartime. Although a huge percentage of military-aged men served in the Union army, a larger group chose to stay home, even while they supported the war. This pathbreaking study investigates how men and women, both white and black, understood their roles in the People's Conflict. Wartime culture created humorous and angry stereotypes ridiculing the nation's cowards, crooks, and fools, while wrestling with the challenges faced by ordinary Americans. Gallman shows how thousands of authors, artists, and readers together created a new set of rules for navigating life in a nation at war.
About the Author
J. Matthew Gallman is professor of history at the University of Florida and the author of Receiving Erin's Children: Philadelphia, Liverpool and the Irish Famine Migration, 1845-1855.
What People are Saying About This
J. Matthew Gallman offers a compelling examination of how struggling northerners defined, debated, and delineated loyal behavior during the four years of the American Civil War. At once entertaining and enlightening, Gallman's lively survey of an impressive range of print literature yields fresh understanding of the evolving roles that patriotic Union civilians aspired to emulate. Accompanying the text are striking images bringing to vivid life the myriad ways of "defining duty" for the anxious population of the United States.Joan Waugh, author of U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth
In an intriguing and wonderfully illustrated book, J. Matthew Gallman offers a crucial new take on print culture and citizenship in the North during the Civil War. By looking at print materials in popular media, from political cartoons to short stories, Gallman gives readers surprising insights into the hearts and minds of Northerners by looking at what they wrote and read during this tumultuous era in American history.