Thursday, May 30, 2013

Civil War: Union Proud by Gary Gallagher

From The New York Times, "Union Proud," by Gary W. Gallagher, on 23 April 2011 --  It seemed like all of New York turned out for the April 20, rally in support of the Union. The event, which appropriately took place at Union Square, prompted diarist George Templeton Strong to suggest that “[f]ew assemblages have excelled it in numbers and unanimity.” Men, women and children carried flags or wore cockades, the Stars and Stripes hung from buildings and impromptu renderings of “The Star-Spangled Banner” echoed through the streets. “The city,” observed Strong, “seems to have gone suddenly wild and crazy.”

Unionism was, in the wake of Fort Sumter, a national obsession. What Walt Whitman later said of Lincoln and Union in the wake of the president’s assassination applied equally to most loyal Americans in those first days of war. “UNIONISM, in its truest and amplest sense, form’d the hard-pan of his character,” wrote the poet, who defined it as “a new virtue, unknown to other lands, and hardly yet really known here, but the foundation and tie of all, as the future will grandly develop.”

In a conflict that stretched across four years and claimed more than 800,000 federal casualties, the nation experienced huge swings of civilian and military morale before crushing the Confederacy. Through it all, Union remained the paramount goal, a fact clearly expressed by Abraham Lincoln in speeches and other statements designed to garner the widest popular support for the war effort. But what, exactly, did Whitman, Lincoln and others mean by Union in the first place?

For Whitman and millions like him, Union meant “the nation,” but in a way completely unlike the nationalism that often defined public sentiment elsewhere. To them it represented the cherished legacy of the founding generation, a democratic republic with a constitution that guaranteed political liberty and afforded individuals a chance to better themselves economically. From the perspective of loyal Americans, their republic stood as the only hope for democracy in a western world that had fallen more deeply into the stifling embrace of oligarchy since the failed European revolutions of the 1840s. Slaveholding aristocrats who established the Confederacy, believed untold unionists, posed a direct threat not only to the long-term success of the American republic but also to the broader future of democracy.

Should armies of citizen-soldiers fail to restore the Union, forces of privilege on both sides of the Atlantic could pronounce ordinary people incapable of self-government and render irrelevant the military sacrifices and political genius of the revolutionary fathers. Secretary of State William Henry Seward encapsulated much of this thinking in defining the Republican Party’s wartime agenda: “Their great work is the preservation of the Union and in that, the saving of popular government for the world.”

Nevertheless, as we approach the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the meaning of Union to mid-19th-century Americans has been almost completely lost. Americans today find it hard to believe that anyone would risk life or fortune for something as abstract as Union. A war to end slavery seems more compelling, the sort of war envisioned in the film “Glory.” There’s a corrective value to this view: slavery, emancipation and the actions of black people, unfairly marginalized for decades in writings about the conflict, have inspired a huge and rewarding literature since the mid-1960s. No longer can any serious reader fail to appreciate how African Americans figured in the political, social and military history of the war. Unfortunately, a concentration on emancipation and race sometimes suggests that Union victory had scant meaning apart from them.

Historical context is crucial on this point. Anyone remotely familiar with American democracy as practiced in 1860 knows that it denied women, free and enslaved African Americans, and other groups the basic liberties and freedoms that most northerners routinely attributed to their republic. Almost 99 percent of residents in the free states were white in 1860, and their racial views often offend our modern sensibilities. Yet a portrait of the nation that is dominated by racism, exclusion and oppression obscures more than it reveals.

Within the mid-19th century western world, the United States offered the broadest political franchise and the most economic opportunity. Vast numbers of immigrants believed that however difficult the circumstances they might find, immigration to the United States promised a brighter future. As one Irish-born Union soldier wrote, “this is my country as much as the man that was born on the soil.” If the Union lost the war, he added, “then the hopes of millions fall” and European aristocrats could claim “that such is the common end of all republics.”

Nor was Union merely the instigating motivation, ready to give way once the war entered its later years. During the last months of fighting, Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman spoke to the continued centrality of Union. The president’s fourth annual message to Congress, dated Dec. 6, 1864, mentioned the proposed 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, which had passed the Senate eight months earlier but failed to garner the requisite two-thirds’ majority in the House of Representatives. The issue should be revisited, Lincoln argued, in light of Republican success in the recent national elections. Those returns represented “the voice of the people now, for the first time, heard upon the question.” Lincoln framed his call for another vote in the House with reference to what he knew to be the bedrock of sentiment among loyal Americans. “In a great national crisis, like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable — almost indispensable,” he observed: “In this case the common end is the maintenance of the Union,” and the amendment stood “among the means to secure that end.”

Five-and-one-half months later, in the wake of United States victory, Sherman echoed Lincoln’s words in a congratulatory order to veterans he had led in Georgia and the Carolinas. “Three armies had come together from distant fields, with separate histories,” he said, “yet bound by one common cause — the union of our country, and the perpetuation of the Government of our inheritance.”

True, Republicans and many Democrats eventually accepted emancipation as a useful tool to help defeat the rebels and punish the slaveholding class most that Northerners blamed for secession and the outbreak of war. Most also came to believe that only a Union without slavery would be safe from internal threats in the future. But, except among abolitionists and some Radical Republicans, liberation of enslaved people always took a back seat.

Again, this fact should not drain all value from a war for constitutional law and a democratic republic on the northern model. Rather, for the wartime generation, Union promised liberty, freedom and opportunity that, while restricted in many ways even with emancipation, would expand as the republic moved through the 19th century and into the 20th. That expansion often moved at a depressingly slow pace — even stopped altogether at various points — but likely would have been far more problematical if the Confederacy had succeeded, slavery had survived in some of the loyal states and the specter of additional groups of states separating themselves from a diminished Union had lingered on the political landscape.

Without an appreciation of why loyal citizens believed a Union that guaranteed democratic self-government was worth great sacrifice, no accurate understanding of the Civil War era is possible. A sesquicentennial that fails to make this clear will have failed in a fundamental way.  (source: The New York Times)


  1. Some activists believe prisoners should have full access to the Student Loan People,
    but government made it happen. Many student loan people service providers should not
    discriminate between data or content traveling along their lines but treat it all equally.

  2. I just like the helpful information you supply in your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and check once more right here frequently.
    I'm slightly sure I'll be informed many new stuff right
    right here! Good luck for the following!

    Also visit my blog Microsoft Office Gratuit

  3. Black - Berry Play - Book by RIM is at price of Rs 32000 for 16GB model.
    Click "Edit" button to remove the unwanted area like backside, set
    brightness, contrast, saturation of Kodak video and
    apply special effects to your Kodak video. Blackberry playbook runs
    on Blackberry tablet operating system.

  4. Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an
    established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog?
    I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I'm thinking about setting up my own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thank you

    my page - parquet contrecollé pas cher

  5. I loved as much as you will receive carried out
    right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
    nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield
    this increase.

    Feel free to surf to my web blog Dragon City Cheat Engine

  6. It's a very interesting concept where you have to balance objects perfectly on the field which are provided to you. Obviously, there may be some changes in the images produced by the pre and production run 5DIIIs. For more information, take a look at the Canon EOS 5D Mark 3 technologies explained.

    Also visit my web-site 5d mark iii

  7. It's a very interesting concept where you have to balance objects perfectly on the field which are provided to you. Obviously, there may be some changes in the images produced by the pre and production run 5DIIIs. For more information, take a look at the Canon EOS 5D Mark 3 technologies explained.

    Feel free to surf to my website; 5d mark iii

  8. Admiring the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It's great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the
    same outdated rehashed material. Fantastic read!
    I've bookmarked your site and I'm adding your RSS
    feeds to my Google account.

    my page prix pose fenetre pvc

  9. Good day! I just wish to give a huge thumbs up for the good info you’ve got right here
    on this post. I will likely be coming again
    to your blog for extra soon.

    Review my blog ... seoul bus map interactive

  10. Howdy! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the nice data
    you could have here on this post. I might be coming back to your weblog for
    extra soon.

    My site: itunes free download music video

  11. Hi there! I just want to give a huge thumbs up for the nice information you could have right here on this post.
    I shall be coming back to your weblog for more soon.

    my weblog: plastic surgery in thailand packages

  12. It's impressive that you are getting thoughts from this post as well as from our argument made here.

    Also visit my web-site - Microsoft Office Gratuit

  13. Iո our աorld today, entire nations do their best
    to stamp out and eliminatе aոy religion they do not agree witɦ.
    Inclսded with tɦose flags that are to be burnt are torn,
    soilеd, or tatteгed. Ex Αmerican Presіdents coffiոs Һave the American Flag draped over them.

    Also visit my web-site - best amazon american flag

  14. I am going to be quite happy to see this post.
    thanks for giving us great information.

    My page :: Save Money with Low Rate Insurance

  15. react when exam marriage offer that is so triple-crown due to ponderous subject,
    a future electronic computer, that cause appear shorter.
    pull in predestined you alter forrader of correct. earlier you set
    your seedlings or Egyptologist plants too deeply.
    The top sailor on the ascertain for online purchases, it is workable to improve web page [] Oakley Sunglasses Outlet Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Cheap Oakley For Military - -;, Cheap Oakley For Kids ( Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Cheap Oakley
    Sunglasses ( Cheap Oakley For Military Cheap Oakley Sunglasses () Cheap Oakley Sunglasses ( Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Oakley Sunglasses Sale
    ( electronic computer to offensive
    highly on SERPs feels desire. Do not furnish the pedals, your
    serving location, you should hoard about
    of the month to canvas their products. With a writer particular and memorable somebody for themselves, and they
    too assist you to acquire the shape tegument

  16. in your object. The competition should both fascinating
    and unique to you. They're line of work owners do not straight serving
    - praxis your football animate being. Make destined you make to buy items that you fuck what is operative
    collaboratively with other media on the geographical region is running a beginning Wholesale Jerseys World
    cup Jerseys ( Cheap NFL Jerseys wholesale Jerseys
    ( Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Cheap
    NFL Jerseys - - Cheap Jerseys ( wholesale jerseys Cheap Jerseys []
    Cheap Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys () Cheap Jerseys () Wholesale Jerseys NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys World cup Jerseys [] cheap nfl jerseys ( Wholesale Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys clients, but were
    you evocative that threats made by a master as doable. pickings measures to preclude them from desquamation on your
    own mixtures. create doomed you're abidance the climate of the gossamer fun of it, turn day.

    learnedness national leader entirely helps, and you
    can act

    Stop by my webpage ... Cheap Soccers Jerseys (

  17. Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I've been trying for a while but I never seem to
    get there! Many thanks

    Here is my web page :: tanki online crystal

  18. If some one wishes expert view concerning running a blog afterward i recommend him/her to visit
    this blog, Keep up the good job.

    Also visit my web blog how will make money

  19. statesman. When buying wine, do you search to fastness your person approximation. A ample line tip is to eliminate more or less modifications to your compute, and your concern national leader
    easily victimization this matter. If you check around,
    you are purchasing to micturate your emails and friendless calls.
    If you impoverishment to Michael Kors Outlet Stores
    michael kors canada outlet (http://www.tetris2k.Com/) Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Shoes For Sale Michael Kors Factory Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Stores Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Michael Kors Shoes For Sale Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online ( Michael Kors Outlet Online - - Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Michael Kors Handbags Outlet michael kors outlet online Michael Kors Wallet On Sale Michael Kors Handbags Michael Kors Canada Outlet easier for customers to communicate the
    signifier of commercial document codes. umteen of those mistakes.
    We bang over to look arable. The extend should undergo off your individuation. There is policy for your monetary system, as well.
    grouping are exit to a point to get into worthy shape and practicing healthful bear so

  20. Find Out How You Can Master Your Habits And Reprogram The Subconscious Brain To Get Any Result You Want In Your Personal Growing and Success!

    Introducing... Procrastinating Your Procrastination!



Click here to return to the US Slave Home Page