Sun 8 May, 2011 12:46 pm
A must read if you want a different perspective about the Civil War, prior, during and after. It was more than just slavery or state rights. It began as a war between the Catholic church and the Evangelical Christian churches in both the South and North. Thanks to religion, once again, to cause a war that took the lives of over 6,ooo people, mostly young men. ---BBB
America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation
by David Goldfield
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This sweeping, provocative history of America from the 1830s through Reconstruction has two grand themes. One is the importance of evangelical Protestantism, particularly in the North and within the Republican Party, in changing slavery from a political problem to an intractable moral issue that could only be settled by bloodshed. The second is the Civil War's transformation of America into a modern industrial nation with a powerful government and a commercial, scientific outlook, even as the postwar South stagnated in racism and backward-looking religiosity. UNC-Charlotte historian Goldfield (Still Fighting the Civil War) courts controversy by shifting more responsibility for the conflict to an activist North and away from intransigent slaveholders, whom he likens to Indians, Mexicans, and other targets viewed by white evangelical Northerners as "polluting" the spreading western frontier. Still, he presents a superb, stylishly written historical synthesis that insightfully foregrounds ideology, faith, and public mood The book is, the author writes, "neither pro-southern nor pro-northern," but rather "antiwar." Goldfield's narrative of the war proper is especially good, evoking the horror of the fighting and its impact on soldiers and civilians. The result is an ambitious, engrossing interpretation with new things to say about a much-studied conflagration.
A specialist in southern history, Goldfield assesses Civil War causes and consequences chronologically from 1834 to the termination of Reconstruction. Why begin in 1834? That year a Boston mob destroyed a Catholic convent; for Goldfield, that event is symbolic of a toxic factor in the period’s politics, evangelical Protestantism. Arguing that it promoted eschatological mentalities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, Goldfield, as his narrative navigates the 1850s, personifies evangelicals’ influence in Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe and in southern preachers who sermonized on God’s sanction for southern rights, slavery included. The overtly religious aren’t the sole culprits in Goldfield’s interpretation. He critiques the increasing inflexibility of such politicians as former Whigs Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Stephens. Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman stroll through Goldfield’s pages as eyewitnesses while he considers that the South’s fear for slavery’s future and for its exclusion from industrialization and westward expansion underlay variously argued causes of the war. But it is his emphasis on the religious angle that readers may find distinctive among Civil War overviews. --Gilbert Taylor
interesting stuff...thanks BBB