Publication Date

4-15-2015

Advisor(s)

Courtney Fullilove, Demetrius Eudell

Major

History (HIST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

The fundamental question of reconciliation was how, and on what terms, the country should be reunited. The politicians and the people of the United States, after the Civil War, had the opportunity to confront the implications of what it meant to be American, and they did so through constricted and repetitive forms including memoirs, textbooks, public monuments, and works of fiction. During the period of reconstruction, politicians tried to produce a sense of national unity in reaction to the divisiveness of the Civil War and they prioritized reconciliation as a political project. Veterans, in contrast, advocated a rewriting of the narrative of the war that in turn allowed them to define what it meant to be an American. This rewriting produced the “Civil War,” in the title case, and an ideology of fraternity that, while it purported inclusivity, inherently excluded groups that reminded white Americans of the Civil War’s main consequence: emancipation. This thesis argues that veterans forged the “road to reunion” by shaping national sentiment and thus helping reunite the nation. It analyzes the creation of an ideology and narrative of fraternity between 1865 and 1913 by examining: the two main veterans groups of North and South (The Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans), veterans’ memoirs and their involvement with textbooks, soldiers monuments, and popular war literature of the 1890s.

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