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Failure of Confederate
Nationalism
Quiz
Please answer ONE of the following:
• Lisa Laskin argues that, after 1863, “men in the
ANV [Army of Northern Virginia...
Big questions
• What effect did the ideology of states’ rights
have on Confederate policymaking?
• How did the centralizat...
Centralization in the Confederacy
• Like Lincoln, Pres. Davis dealt with dissent by
– Suspending habeas corpus
– Limiting ...
Conscription
• Conscription Act, April 1862
– Covered all abled-boded men between 18-35
– Conscripted them for 3 years
• I...
20-slave exemption
• Idea was to protect white women and ensure
agricultural productivity
– But stirred great resentment; ...
Conscription, cont.
• Conscriptions laws grew more draconian as the
war progressed
– Eventually covered ages 17-50
– Men h...
Taxes
• Historically, southerners were not used to paying
high taxes
• 1861: Confederate Congress enacted a “war tax”
– Pr...
Impressment (of goods)
• Confederate officers routinely seized food and
animals
– Would pay farmers whatever they chose in...
Pres. Jefferson Davis
• How much was he to blame for CSA’s failure?
– Micromanager; did not trust cabinet members to
manag...
Jefferson Davis
Cabinet discussing Emancipation
Proclamation
CSA a single-party state
• Confederate leaders opposed political parties
– Believed they were returning to the nation’s
fo...
Davis’s leading critics
• Robert Toombs, Georgia
– Had been a longtime senator in US Congress
– Appointed Sec. of State of...
Dissent
• 10% of southerners were “unconditional
Unionists”
– Had never supported secession; encouraged
opposition through...
A letter intercepted because of
treasonous sentiments
January 1863. NC woman writing to her brother,
urging him to desert ...
Neighbor against neighbor
• In many areas, people essentially began
informing on one another – writing letters to
governme...
NC women writing to Governor Vance
Jan. 1863: A petition from a group of women, who assure
him they are not “prompted by a...
War’s effects on ordinary civilians
• Differed according to class, esp. early on
• Food production declined; scarcities; i...
Food shortages
• Butter, flour, and salt became very expensive
• No meat except for bacon
• Confederate officers looked th...
Letter from a farmer to Gov. Vance
Dec. 1862: “Governer in the first place I will inform you of
our suffering condishion i...
Food riots
• Spring of 1863: riots began to break out
– By this time, inflation was growing at a rate of 12% a
month
• Big...
Desertion
• When families faced starvation or were located in areas
threatened by invading Union troops, men often deserte...
1863 election
• Southerners voted nearly 40% of elected officials
out of office
– Many of the winners had openly campaigne...
“Dixie”
I Wish I was in de land ob cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten
Look away! look away! look away!
Dixie Land.
In ...
We are a band of brothers
and native to the soil
Fighting for our Liberty,
With treasure, blood and toil
And when our righ...
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism
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Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism

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Lecture 13

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Lecture 13: Confederate Nationalism

  1. 1. Failure of Confederate Nationalism
  2. 2. Quiz Please answer ONE of the following: • Lisa Laskin argues that, after 1863, “men in the ANV [Army of Northern Virginia] appear to have shifted their loyalty away from the society they were fighting for and toward the army they were fighting in.” What do this means, and why did this shift occur? • According to Stephanie McCurry, how did poor white southern women’s political identities change over the course of the war?
  3. 3. Big questions • What effect did the ideology of states’ rights have on Confederate policymaking? • How did the centralization of power in the Confederacy breed dissent? – How did it lead to conflicts within the Confederate leadership? • How can we assess the strength of Confederate nationalism? • Was this war really lost on the battlefields?
  4. 4. Centralization in the Confederacy • Like Lincoln, Pres. Davis dealt with dissent by – Suspending habeas corpus – Limiting freedom of speech and the press – Declaring martial law in some places • But Davis went further—centralized authority to an even greater extent – Regulated railroads and other key industries – Nationalized some industries outright – Impressed slaves • Paradox: To fight for states’ right, the Confederacy needed a strong and meddlesome federal government
  5. 5. Conscription • Conscription Act, April 1862 – Covered all abled-boded men between 18-35 – Conscripted them for 3 years • Including those who had volunteered and already served nearly a year, which angered early volunteers • Exemptions – Government officials and clergymen – Policy of substitution—could hire someone to go in your place – Oct. 1861: One white man per household exempt for every twenty slaves
  6. 6. 20-slave exemption • Idea was to protect white women and ensure agricultural productivity – But stirred great resentment; seen as favoring the elite • Government ultimately had to amend the law – Exemptions only for women (and minors) who owned plantations themselves • Mainly wealthy widows; other plantations mistresses embittered • Upshot: when push came to shove, it was more important for the Confederacy to mitigate class conflict among male voters than to address elite white women’s concerns
  7. 7. Conscription, cont. • Conscriptions laws grew more draconian as the war progressed – Eventually covered ages 17-50 – Men had to sign not for a set term, but for the duration of the war – They began refusing to release minors – 1863-64: And began taking men regardless of physical conditions • Even those deaf and mute – Led to great resentment of elites who bought substitutes (around 50,000 in all) for around $500 • Critics argued conscription was govt. despotism
  8. 8. Taxes • Historically, southerners were not used to paying high taxes • 1861: Confederate Congress enacted a “war tax” – Proved difficult to collect; people paid in rapidly deflating currency • So, the government imposed a “tax in kind,” taking 10% of what everyone produced – This ultimately accounted for about 50% of revenue – But it infuriated people – Yeoman farmers asked: why aren’t slave owners being taxed on their slaves?
  9. 9. Impressment (of goods) • Confederate officers routinely seized food and animals – Would pay farmers whatever they chose in promissory notes that rapidly declined in value • Seemed unfair and capricious • Ordinary southerners began to view their government as imposing onerous duties and obligations—as a force of oppression
  10. 10. Pres. Jefferson Davis • How much was he to blame for CSA’s failure? – Micromanager; did not trust cabinet members to manage their departments – Seen as cold to people outside of his small circle— rigid, humorless, thin-skinned • But he faced an all but impossible task – Had to unite two factions • Those who believed the most crucial thing was to gain independence, even if it meant trampling on states’ rights • Those who believed the whole point of the CSA was to protect sates’ rights and slavery
  11. 11. Jefferson Davis
  12. 12. Cabinet discussing Emancipation Proclamation
  13. 13. CSA a single-party state • Confederate leaders opposed political parties – Believed they were returning to the nation’s founding ideals by eschewing “factionalism” • Result: no established channels for managing dissent; no loyal opposition – Meant that everything devolved into personal attacks: pro-Davis and anti-Davis factions • Opposition from some southern governors was especially intense
  14. 14. Davis’s leading critics • Robert Toombs, Georgia – Had been a longtime senator in US Congress – Appointed Sec. of State of the CSA, but soon stepped down in frustration and joined the military – 1863: launched a major attack on Davis • Opposed conscription and the suspension of habeas corpus • VP Alexander Stephens – Left Richmond – Claimed Davis’s policies were “leading us to despotism”
  15. 15. Dissent • 10% of southerners were “unconditional Unionists” – Had never supported secession; encouraged opposition through guerilla activity • During the war, many others who lost faith in the Confederate cause—“pragmatic Unionists” – Concluded the costs of war were too high – Wanted a peace settlement; prepared to rejoin Union – Rise of “pragmatic Unionists” pointed to class conflict • Wartime suffering not equally shared
  16. 16. A letter intercepted because of treasonous sentiments January 1863. NC woman writing to her brother, urging him to desert to the other side, where he can “get plenty and not stay in this one horse barefooted naked and famine stricken Southern confederacy for we have come very near naught we cannot even get any paper or pens that is worth anything. This, Isaac, is what I call Old Jef[f] Davis paper and it is but very little better than he is[.] well Isaac I am getting very tired of this war[.] well Isaac there is not mutch news stiring now every Person or very near say the southern Confederacy is bound to die and if it would I would not cry[.]”
  17. 17. Neighbor against neighbor • In many areas, people essentially began informing on one another – writing letters to government officials to report all manner of transgressions – Men avoiding conscription – Questioning patriotic commitment – Hoarding of goods like blankets – Using grain to make whiskey
  18. 18. NC women writing to Governor Vance Jan. 1863: A petition from a group of women, who assure him they are not “prompted by an inclination, to meddle with mens business, but by a deeper interest in the welfare of our country, and a desire that the soldiers wives & children, should have bread. We write to tell you, that (notwithstanding the law, to prohibit the distillation of grain) a number of our citizens; men, too of wealth, and almost unlimited influence) are stilling day & night (Sundays not excepted) and will consume much corn that should be kept for bread.” They name names; ask for an investigation.
  19. 19. War’s effects on ordinary civilians • Differed according to class, esp. early on • Food production declined; scarcities; inflation • Blockade made it impossible to buy previously imported goods – Candles, soap, paper, clothing, shoes, coffee • Example: shoes were made out of alligator and squirrel skins, carpets, cloth • Eventually, even the elite were sometimes reduced to wearing homespun
  20. 20. Food shortages • Butter, flour, and salt became very expensive • No meat except for bacon • Confederate officers looked the other way when soldiers engaged in theft – Entering homes; breaking into meat houses and dairies • Whites increasingly ate foods previously only given to slaves—or worse (during sieges) • Undermined patriotism/solidarity – Many examples of women trading with the enemy; even buying goods from Yankee peddlers who entered the South
  21. 21. Letter from a farmer to Gov. Vance Dec. 1862: “Governer in the first place I will inform you of our suffering condishion in [A]she [North Carolina] for the want of salt. The salt that we are getting from Mr. Woodfor is comparative nothing to our Wants. We have a large surplus of hogs…we…the citisons of ashe has come to the conclusion to go & take it by force if the oners of it wont let us have it for a fare price & the people of this country has requested me to write you on the subject & we wish your advice & whether we can be seriously punished or not we are willing to pay a fare price for the salt we are compeld to have salt while it can be had or we will fite for it. I can get from 3 to 4 hundred men in one days notice to starte.”
  22. 22. Food riots • Spring of 1863: riots began to break out – By this time, inflation was growing at a rate of 12% a month • Biggest riot in April in Richmond – Women demanded to buy goods at government prices – “Bread or blood” – Women looted at least 20 stores – Jefferson Davis appeared in person and tried to calm the crowd (unsuccessfully) – War Department ordered newspapers not to report the story – Some 44 women were tried; 12 convicted
  23. 23. Desertion • When families faced starvation or were located in areas threatened by invading Union troops, men often deserted to return home – More than 100,000 had deserted from the Army by the war’s end • Company commander in the Georgia State Militia wrote to his wife in July 1864 from the outskirts of Atlanta about soldiers from Tennessee and Georgia who were deserting in large numbers. "They know their families are left behind at the mercy of the yankies and it is hard to bear. I tell you it is enough to make any man desert. If the Yankees were to drive our army through our country & we were to pass on by you and the children, I could not say that I would not desert and try to get to you."
  24. 24. 1863 election • Southerners voted nearly 40% of elected officials out of office – Many of the winners had openly campaigned as peace candidates • But very few called for a restoration of the Union as it was; most urged a negotiated settlement • How to interpret this? – Probably best seen as a vote of no-confidence for Davis • More “anti-government” or “anti-Davis” than “anti- Confederate”
  25. 25. “Dixie” I Wish I was in de land ob cotton, Old times dar am not forgotten Look away! look away! look away! Dixie Land. In Dixie Land whar I was born in, Early on one frosty mornin’, Look away! look away! look away! Dixie Land. Den I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray! hooray! In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand, To lib and die in Dixie, Away, away, away down south in Dixie, Away, away, away down south in Dixie.
  26. 26. We are a band of brothers and native to the soil Fighting for our Liberty, With treasure, blood and toil And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star! As long as the Union was faithful to her trust Like friends and like brethren, kind were we, and just But now, when Northern treachery attempts our rights to mar We hoist on high the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star. Then here's to our Confederacy, strong we are and brave, Like patriots of old we'll fight, our heritage to save; And rather than submit to shame, to die we would prefer, So cheer for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.

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