The World the Civil War Made

The World the Civil War Made

The World the Civil War Made

The World the Civil War Made

Synopsis

At the close of the Civil War, it was clear that the military conflict that began in South Carolina and was fought largely east of the Mississippi River had changed the politics, policy, and daily life of the entire nation. In an expansive reimagining of post-Civil War America, the essays in this volume explore these profound changes not only in the South but also in the Southwest, in the Great Plains, and abroad. Resisting the tendency to use Reconstruction as a catchall, the contributors instead present diverse histories of a postwar nation that stubbornly refused to adopt a unified ideology and remained violently in flux. Portraying the social and political landscape of postbellum America writ large, this volume demonstrates that by breaking the boundaries of region and race and moving past existing critical frameworks, we can appreciate more fully the competing and often contradictory ideas about freedom and equality that continued to define the United States and its place in the nineteenth-century world.

Contributors include Amanda Claybaugh, Laura F. Edwards, Crystal N. Feimster, C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, Steven Hahn, Luke E. Harlow, Stephen Kantrowitz, Barbara Krauthamer, K. Stephen Prince, Stacey L. Smith, Amy Dru Stanley, Kidada E. Williams, and Andrew Zimmerman.

Excerpt

Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur

As the final Confederate armies surrendered in May 1865, the nation’s interior secretary saw the Civil War’s consequences in far-off New Mexico, where the “law abolishing slavery” was “disregarded” and the “practice of selling Indian children still continues.” When President Andrew Johnson extended national authority over the rebel states in June, he issued an executive order directing federal officials in New Mexico to end the “barbarous and inhuman practice” of selling captives. The seemingly southern problems of slavery, emancipation, and the defense of federal authority spread far beyond regional boundaries into New Mexico and other places. Throughout the United States, and in some ways around the world, it was clear that a civil war begun in South Carolina and primarily fought east of the Mississippi River had in fact changed politics, policy, and personal life across a much broader canvass. If New Mexican peonage was not, of course, the war’s cause, the struggle to destroy it was, in fact, one of the war’s consequences. The postwar era tested the reach and authority of the national government over its own territory, and it also brought forward a multitude of challenges to emerging visions of freedom and citizenship. Just as an observer in the South could trace the war’s impact in black children singing “John Brown’s Body” within sight of John Calhoun’s grave, or in the sixty-five white men who dragged the freedman Abram Colby and his daughter from their Georgia house, or in freedpeople like Bella Newton who took white men to court to assert newfound rights, so too could people much farther away see the changes the war had brought. In Wisconsin, “stray bands” of Ho-Chunk Indians, separated from their self-governing tribe and living among white settlers, insisted that they . . .

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