American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s

American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s

American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s

American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s


American Civil Wars takes readers beyond the battlefields and sectional divides of the U.S. Civil War to view the conflict from outside the national arena of the United States. Contributors position the American conflict squarely in the context of a wider transnational crisis across the Atlantic world, marked by a multitude of civil wars, European invasions and occupations, revolutionary independence movements, and slave uprisings--all taking place in the tumultuous decade of the 1860s. The multiple conflicts described in these essays illustrate how the United States' sectional strife was caught up in a larger, complex struggle in which nations and empires on both sides of the Atlantic vied for the control of the future. These struggles were all part of a vast web, connecting not just Washington and Richmond but also Mexico City, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Rio de Janeiro and--on the other side of the Atlantic--London, Paris, Madrid, and Rome. This volume breaks new ground by charting a hemispheric upheaval and expanding Civil War scholarship into the realms of transnational and imperial history. American Civil Wars creates new connections between the uprisings and civil wars in and outside of American borders and places the United States within a global context of other nations.


Matt D. Childs, University of South Carolina

Anne Eller, Yale University

Richard Huzzey, University of Liverpool

Howard Jones, University of Alabama

Patrick J. Kelly, University of Texas at San Antonio

Rafael de Bivar Marquese, University of Sao Paulo

Erika Pani, College of Mexico

Hilda Sabato, University of Buenos Aires

Steve Sainlaude, University of Paris IV Sorbonne

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Tufts University

Jay Sexton, University of Oxford


Don H. Doyle

For more than a century and a half, historians have told the story of America’s Civil War within a familiar nation-bound narrative. Most accounts center on the growing tensions between North and South over slavery, the clash of arms, the generals and political leaders on each side, the civilians at the home front, and the ordeal of Reconstruction. It is a quintessential American story about the nation’s defining crisis.

This book takes readers away from the battlefields and political debates in the United States to view the conflict as part of a larger global crisis that seized the Atlantic world in the 1860s. Our book joins the international turn among historians endeavoring to understand the modern past as something more than the sum of national histories. In addition to expanding the frame that normally surrounds the U.S. Civil War, our goal has been to situate the war and Reconstruction within a transnational complex of upheavals that included multiple civil wars, European invasions, separatist rebellions, independence and unification struggles, slave uprisings, and slave emancipations.

The various points of turbulence we examine were all connected to a vast web whose radial cords attached to Washington and Richmond but also fastened at Mexico City, Havana, Santo Domingo, Rio de Janeiro, and other nodes of power in the American hemisphere. Other radials spanned the Atlantic to connect at London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and myriad points between and beyond these major centers of state power. Tremors at any point in this web reverberated to distant connections in the network, constantly creating new dangers, and opportunities, for different actors in this dramatic decade.

The schematic diagram in figure 1 illustrates the scope and nature of this vast complex of wars, invasions, and emancipations that spanned the Atlantic world. However, it cannot fully convey the violent currents of influence and reaction that ran through this network of nations and empires, nor the dynamic unfolding of events during this tempestuous decade. In addition to identifying the multiple civil and international military conflicts taking . . .

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