While most of the fighting took place in the South, the Civil War profoundly affected the North. As farm boys became soldiers and marched off to battle, social, economic, and political changes transformed northern society. In the generations following the conflict, historians tried to understand and explain the North’s Civil War experience. Many historical explanations became taken for granted, such as that the Union Army was ideologically Republican, northern Democrats were disloyal, and German Americans were lousy soldiers. Now in this eye-opening collection of eleven stimulating essays, new and important information is unearthed that solidly challenges the old historical arguments.
The essays in This Distracted and Anarchical People range widely throughout the history of the Civil War North, using new methods and sources to reexamine old theories and discover new aspects of the nation’s greatest conflict. Many of these issues are just as important today as they were a century and a half ago. What were the extent and limits of wartime dissent in the North? How could a president most effectively present himself to the public? Can the savagery of war ever be tamed? How did African Americans create and maintain their families?
This Distracted and Anarchical People highlights the newest scholarship on a diverse array of topics, bringing fresh insight to bear on some of the most important topics in history today—such as the democratic press in the antebellum North, peace movements, the Union Army and the elections of 1864, Liberia and the U.S. Civil War, and African American veterans and marriage practices after Emancipation.