Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War

By Harry S. Stout

A well timed reconsideration of "just war," this landmark historical past heavily examines the ethical underpinnings of the struggle among the States

whilst the state tore itself aside through the Civil struggle, the North and the South marched below the banner of God. but the real ethical elements of this struggle have bought little observe from historians of the interval. during this gripping quantity, Yale spiritual historian Harry S. Stout demonstrates how either teams’ claims they had God on their part fueled the ferocity of the clash and its enduring legacy this present day.

continuing chronologically from the election of Lincoln to the beginning of Reconstruction, Stout explores how the basic ethical behavior of the conflict shifted from a restricted clash fought over constitutional concerns to a complete battle within which slaughter either off and on the battlefield was once justified because the simply skill to unconditional victory. As North and South alike enshrined their explanations as sacred, a type of nationwide faith emerged according to martyrdom and rebirth via violence.

Drawing on a desirable array of Civil warfare letters, sermons, editorials, diaries, and conflict images, Stout finds how women and men have been ensnared within the time’s patriotic propaganda and ideological grip and the way those wartime regulations proceed to echo within the debates at the present time. certain to galvanize an enormous reevaluation of this bloody and tormented interval and entice readers of James McPherson, Garry Wills, and David Herbert Donald, Upon the Altar of the Nation is a provocative and magnificent exam of rationale and behavior, either off and on the battlefield.

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Marines below the Mexican struggle hero Robert E. Lee simply captured Brown and killed ten of his raiding get together. At his striking, Brown turned the contested image of America’s relentless march to violence. Northern abolitionists deemed Brown a freedom fighter whose execution rendered him a “martyr. ” within the view of white Southerners, Brown was once a fanatical terrorist who embodied the essence of the “Black Republican” social gathering. John Brown’s raid aroused a surprising tempest on the usa army Academy. West aspect, the nursery of America’s army leaders, was once destined to play a determinative function in shaping men’s minds within the Civil battle. Many Southern cadets erupted into violent ardour, denouncing the abolitionists and everybody within the North who both shared abolitionist perspectives or supported the Republican occasion. Passions boiled over whilst it used to be published former cadet, George W. Turner (class of 1831), on the time a farmer in Jefferson County, Virginia, was once killed during Brown’s raid. three On a chilly December evening in 1859, the main well-known fistfight in West aspect heritage broke out. Cadet Emory Upton—a self-defined “abolitionist” from Oberlin collage who was once “shocked” on the profanity he encountered at West Point—took offense whilst Wade Hampton Gibbs of South Carolina cheered Brown’s execution. Abolitionists have been few and much among at West aspect, yet Upton and a small crew of sympathizers met for weekly prayer conferences coordinated via the librarian, Oliver Otis Howard. while Upton introduced his perspectives to Gibbs, the Southern cadet replied along with his fists. Fellow cadets understood “the nationwide importance of the affair” without delay and crammed the corridor to spur on their respective pugilists. either cadets emerged badly bloodied yet unbowed. four On February 27, 1860, Lincoln added a lecture at Cooper Union in long island that he later defined as his most vital speech. the explanations are transparent. For Northern Republicans, Lincoln declared his antislavery sentiments and provided compelling ancient facts to set up (I) that the Framers of the structure have been, ordinarily, antislavery; (2) that they tolerated slavery simply with the knowledge that it might be extinguished over the years; and (3) that the government surely loved the ability to disclaim slavery in federal territories sooner than they turned states. In different phrases, the Dred Scott decision—not the Republican Party’s antislavery platform—was unconstitutional. in addition, the “peculiar establishment” itself was once improper. To extend slavery into the territories will be a denial that there has been something morally questionable approximately it. This, Lincoln hastened so as to add, didn't suggest that slavery as a result needed to be extirpated via strength the place it already existed. Nor did it justify the planned cultivation of slave insurrections. To the South, Lincoln made transparent his detestation of John Brown and his terrorist strategies: “John Brown used to be no Republican; and you have got did not implicate a unmarried Republican in his Harper’s Ferry company.

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