Highlighting recent and new directions in contemporary research in the field, So Conceived and So Dedicated offers a complete and updated picture of intellectual life in the Civil War–era Union. Compiling essays from both established and young historians, this volume addresses the role intellectuals played in framing the conflict and implementing their vision of a victorious Union.
Broadly defining “intellectuals” to encompass doctors, lawyers, sketch artists, college professors, health reformers, and religious leaders, the essays address how these thinkers disseminated their ideas, sometimes using commercial or popular venues and organizations to implement what they believed.
Offering a vast range of perspectives on how northerners thought about,experienced, and responded to the Civil War, So Conceived and So Dedicated is organized around three questions: To what extent did educated Americans believe that the Civil War exposed the failure of old ideas? Did the Civil War promote new strains of authoritarianism in northern intellectual life or did the war reinforce democratic individualism? How did the Civil War affect northerners’ conception of nationalism and their understanding of their relationship to the state?
Essays explore myriad topics, including: how antebellum ideas about the environment and the body influenced conceptions of democratic health; how leaders of the Irish American community reconciled their support of the United States and the Republican Party with their allegiances to Ireland and their fellow Irish immigrants; how intellectual leaders of the northern African American community explained secession, civil war, and emancipation; the influence of southern ideals on northern intellectuals; wartime and postwar views from college and university campuses; the ideological acrobatics that professors at midwestern universities had to perform in order to keep their students from leaving the classroom; and how northern sketch artists helped influence the changing perceptions of African American soldiers over the course of the war.
Collectively, So Conceived and So Dedicated offers relevant and fruitful answers to the nation’s intellectual history and suggests that antebellum modes of thinking remained vital and tenacious well after the Civil War.