Another Civil War: Labor, Capital, and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-68

Another Civil War: Labor, Capital, and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-68

Another Civil War: Labor, Capital, and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-68

Another Civil War: Labor, Capital, and the State in the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1840-68

Excerpt

How do we measure the meaning of the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history? Was it a war to emancipate the slaves? A courageous test of minority versus majority rights? A second American Revolution? Was the Northern victory part of an inevitable process of modernization or could the South have avoided defeat?

For over one hundred years historians have debated these questions, always looking for new avenues of research to support their point of view. And they have had no trouble finding an audience for their work. By the turn of the twenty-first century, Civil War historians had published more than 60,000 books, most of them focused on soldiers and campaign strategies, or military, legal, and political leaders. Civil War enthusiasts—be they buffs, reenactors, or members of the Civil War Round Table—are captivated by dramatic tales of patriotic valor and military prowess. From their vantage point, a century and a halflater, the war marked a passionate, heroic era, when strong leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis grappled with such crucial issues as emancipation, nationhood, and civil liberties, and courageous soldiers, North and South, black and white, bravely fought for what they believed was right. “We see ourselves and our concerns reflected in this history,” Drew Gilpin Faust has noted. For we recognize the war as the “reason for the emergence of modern America” and all that went with it: a strong nation-state, a robust industrial economy, and new and enhanced meanings of freedom and citizenship.

But what did the war mean to people at the time, especially to those on the Northern home front? How did they experi-

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