September 2019 (vol. 9, no 3)

September 2019 (vol. 9, no 3)

Volume 9, Number 3
September 2019


A Special Note from the Editor

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Editor’s Note

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Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture

George C. Rable

Fighting for Reunion: Dilemmas of Hatred and Vengeance

This essay examines a central paradox for supporters of the Union during the Civil War. Any war, including a civil war, inevitably generates hatred of the enemy and calls for vengeance. But reunion (which remained the central northern war aim) also made intense hatred of the Confederates problematic. During the war, northerners debated the nature and limits of hatred and vengeance.  It was easy enough claim that Confederate were the real haters or hope that religious convictions could control the problem.   The goal of reunion at times tamped down expressions of hatred toward the “rebels” even as many northerners expressed considerable partisan and racial hostility.  But there was continuous disagreement over both the objects and legitimacy of hatred.   The whole question of vengeance was equally divisive and unsettling.  If the goal of the war was reconstruction of the Union and ultimately sectional reconciliation, the whole question of hatred and vengeance posed some serious dilemmas.

Key words: Hatred, Vengeance, Reunion, Reconstruction, Partisanship, Emancipation, Religion

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Joanna Cohen

“You Have No Flag Out Yet?”: Commercial Connections and Patriotic Emotion in the Civil War North

The outbreak of Civil War in 1861 prompted a great outpouring of patriotic feeling among northern communities. Eager to satisfy their consumers’ desire to express that feeling, entrepreneurs across the Union produced a huge variety of new goods and repackaged old ones, that offered citizens the chance to demonstrate their patriotic devotion. But such purchasing prompted questions about the authenticity and depth of feelings expressed in these ways. This article probes how Americans used the rise of commodified patriotism to test the relationship between human emotion and market relations. It examines how northerners used this moment to draw new boundaries between their transactions and themselves. In conclusion, the article argues that this story demonstrates that the collective management of emotions was an important means of defining the scope of the market, and in charting these efforts, the article offers a new approach for evaluating the development of capitalism in the U.S.

Keywords:Patriotism, market, emotion, capitalism, northern, flag, songs, sanitary fairs, carte-de-visite

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Nicholas W. Sacco

“I Never Was an Abolitionist”: Ulysses S. Grant and Slavery, 1854-1863

Ulysses S. Grant’s views towards slavery before the Civil War have been a point of strong debate among historians. Few letters exist from Grant’s time as a farmer in St. Louis, Missouri (1854-1859), leading most scholars to excessively rely on postwar reminisces and Grant’s own Personal Memoirs to argue that he consistently opposed slavery. This essay explores Grant’s relationship with slavery while living in St. Louis. It also questions conventional wisdom by arguing that Grant did not hold a lifelong aversion to slavery. Rather, his views evolved while serving as a U.S. General during the American Civil War. As the contingencies of a prolonged and bloody conflict pushed the Lincoln administration to support emancipation as a war measure to defeat the Confederacy, Grant realized that the end of slavery was necessary to both Union victory and an effective postwar reconstruction.

Keywords: Slavery, Ulysses Grant, St. Louis, Missouri, History, Memory, Emancipation, Historiography

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You can hear Keith Harris interview Sacco about Ulysses S. Grant and the practice of public history on Harris’s Rogue Historian podcast. Sacco also is a regular contributor to the journal’s Muster blog, and you can read his Muster posts here.



Michael E. Woods

The Compromise of 1850 and the Search for a Usable Past

Generations of scholars have searched the Compromise of 1850 for insight into contemporary problems, but history’s lessons are never crystal clear. This historiographical essay surveys a century of scholarship and traces the evolution of three distinct schools of thought. Celebratory accounts applaud the preservation of the Union and the triumph of moderate lawmaking over political polarization. Critical accounts, in contrast, condemn the compromise as a cowardly act of appeasement. By emphasizing ironic outcomes and the limits of federal influence, an emerging skeptical interpretation departs from the celebrants and critics alike. Writing in a time of political polarization, pervasive racism, and contests over federal power, modern historians have embraced all three of these interpretations, and debates between their respective proponents will continue. This essay reviews their development in an effort to understand where each interpretation of the Compromise of 1850 might go in the future.

Keywords:Compromise of 1850, Union, Appeasement, Polarization, Racism, Moderate

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