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The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (1979)

Tekijä: Emory M. Thomas

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

Sarjat: The New American Nation (2.2)

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354372,854 (3.7)1
Traces the development of Southern nationalism from its foundations in the Old South through the establishment of the Confederacy and the first years of the Civil War.
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This book is very readable and very informative, covering issues that are rarely addressed. Thomas emphasizes that the South and Southerners were different before, during, and after the Confederacy. He doesn't deal with the last period, but he contends that the struggle to build a nation while fighting a war caused white Southerners to change, indeed virtually destroy, the culture that they went to war to protect. The idea of a collection of sovereign states forming a federation collapsed under the exigencies of war. Their Federal goverment became ever stronger as the war went on. Thomas points out that the Confederacy based their own constitution on the US Constitution, instead of the Articles of Confederation, which proceeded the US Constitution, which might have seemed more appropriate. Perhaps they understood, but couldn't consciously accept, that the failure of the Articles demonstrated that it would be difficult to create a viable nation along the lines that they envisioned. Southern heroes like Stonewall Jackson, from the lower white classes, also broke down the previous class structure.

They also let their hopes override their understanding of the possible consequences of secession. Many told themselves that the US would not fight to keep the Union together, or if they did, that white Southerners would be much better soldiers than the despised Yankees. They also thought that "King Cotton" would give them more leverage with Europe, make up for their industrial deficiencies, and win them at least offical recognation as a separate country. They were partly undercut by the cotton bumper crops in 1859 and 1860, which meant that the "cotton famine" on which they placed so much hope was delayed. They also didn't reckon with the Union blockade, which while not extremely effective, especially at first, was damaging. I suggest reading Don Harrison Doyle's The Cause of All Nations, for the attitudes of Europeans towards the American Civil War. Apparently white Southerners also counted on commanding the obedience and loyalty of their slaves -- while I'm not aware of any revolts, they in fact decided that didn't have to obey, except in their own interests, like growing food.

I have never been terribly interested in the actual battles of the Civil War, feeling that the only important matter is that the Union won. I read mostly about social and political aspects of the situation. This is probably why I was somewhat surprised: I had always envisioned the South as winning militarily up until say, Gettysburg. In fact, as Thomas shows, after the initial victory at Bull Run, Southern success declined until reviving in the spring of 1862, and then began to decline again in 1863.

Thomas gives credit to the Confederacy for the speed with which they developed an industry to support their efforts, but this was somewhat pyrrhic in undermining the white Southerners view of themselves as an agrarian society, much nobler than the somewhat more industrial North, which was still largely agrarian. In the end, try though they might, the Confederates never got their factors they needed to win aligned. As their industrial output increased, their production of food lagged behind, and their inferior manpower resources began to tell.

I also recommend on this subject Bruce C. Levine's The Fall of the House of Dixie;
William H. Freehling The South versus the South;
David Williams's (the proud descendent of Confederate draft dodgers) Bitterly Divided: the South's Inner Civil War; and,
Chandra Manning's What This Cruel War was Over, in which she studies the letters of common soldiers to determine how they saw the war. ( )
  PuddinTame | May 19, 2019 |
4470. The Confederate Nation 1861-1865, by Emory M. Thomas (read 10 Aug 2008) This is an even-handed study by a then University of Georgia professor, published in 1979. It studies the Confederacy from its beginning till April 1865. It is well-researched and was good to read. And as all books on the Civil War do, it ends right. It even includes the text of the Confederate Constitution, written much more quickly than the U.S. Constitution--because they mostly copied the U.S. Constitution ( )
1 ääni Schmerguls | Aug 10, 2008 |
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (2 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Emory M. Thomasensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Commager, Henry SteeleToimittajamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Johnson, AdamKannen suunnittelijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Malkin, RobinCover designmuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Morris, Richard M.Toimittajamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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STILL FOR FRANK E. VANDIVER

and also for
John C. Inscoe, Lesley J. Gordon, Russell Duncan, Jennifer Lund Smith, William C. Davis, David H. McGee, Brian S. Wills, Frank J. Byrne, James M. McPherson, Keith S. Bohannon, Rod Andrew Jr., Christopher Phillips, Jean E. Friedman, Jennifer Lynn Gross, Joseph T. Glatthaar, Clarence L. Mohr, Thomas G. Dyer, Philip D. Dillard, Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, Nina Silber, and William S. McFeely
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This book was published in 1979, which seems a long time ago now.  (Introduction to the 2011 edition, published on the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War)
At some early point in our correspondence about this book, Professor Henry Steele Commager stated that a new history of the Confederacy needs “not so much new information as new and fresh ideas.”  (Preface)
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When in 1859 North Carolinian Hinton Rowan Helper wrote his Impending Crisis in the South, he tried to tell his fellow plain folk how the planters were “using” them, and he tried to show how the slave system worked to keep rich people rich and poor people poor.   Helper contended that slavery was a class weapon in that the system allowed planters to work their extensive acreage and barred others from access to both land and labor.   His case was convincing – in the abstract.   Certainly the violent response of the planter leadership in suppressing the book indicated that it had struck an exposed nerve.   [p. 11.,Chapter 1, “The Social Economy of the Old South,” The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (2011, c.1979)]
More subtly, the hellfire-and-damnation of Southern Protestantism served as a kind of inverse support for the hedonistic aspects of the Southern lifestyle. […] Perhaps of practice of their fundamentalist faith satisfied the need for confession and purgation.  Hearing their sins exposed and denounced from the pulpit of a church or the stump of a camp meeting, Southern sinners were sufficiently freed from guilt to thank the preacher for a fine sermon and go and sin some more.  In short, if all were wrong, then none were guilty.  [p. 22, Chapter 2, “Cultural Nationalism in the Pre-Confederate South,” The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (2011, c.1979)]
Like Southern writers, Southern political thinkers ultimately saw a romantic vision: the reincarnation of Greek democracy in the nineteenth-century South.  Again Calhoun led the way.  To Americans already conditioned by their recent struggle for independence to admire the Greeks, he offered the South as a replica of Greece in its golden age.  Like ancient Athenians, Southerners held slaves; like the Greeks, Southerners lauded the equality of free people in who in terms of wealth and status were anything but equal.  [p. 31, Chapter 2, “Cultural Nationalism in the Pre-Confederate South,”The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (2011, c.1979)]
Thus secessionist leadership feared not only threats from Northerners without; it became increasingly alarmed over apostasy within.  Should the border South fall away from the Southern world view and convert to Yankeeism, then the deep South would be an ever smaller fraction of the American body politic.  In 1860 and 1861, for reasons both positive and negative, Southerners made their break.  Secessionists hope their nation would prosper and feared that this was their last chance to save a lifestyle that had become sacred.   [p. 34-35, Chapter 2, “Cultural Nationalism in the Pre-Confederate South,” The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (2011, c.1979)]
Thus could the first unquestionably Southern President of the United States since 1865 state that his favorite motion picture was Gone with the Wind. Jimmy Carter then added that he may have seen a “different version” of the film in his native Georgia.  “My favorite scene was the burning of Schenectady, N.Y., and President Grant surrendering to Robert T. Lee.”  p. 306, Chapter 12, “The Death of the Nation,” The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (2011, c.1979)]
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Traces the development of Southern nationalism from its foundations in the Old South through the establishment of the Confederacy and the first years of the Civil War.

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