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Memories of WarVisiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early American Republic$
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Thomas A. Chambers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448676

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448676.001.0001

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The Value of Union

The Value of Union

Antebellum Commemoration and the Coming of the Civil War

(p.159) Chapter Six The Value of Union
Memories of War

Thomas A. Chambers

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores increased interest in commemorating the Revolutionary War during the antebellum period. More than during any other time period to date, antebellum Americans sought out battlefields, no matter how small or local in importance, as subjects of commemoration. In doing so, antebellum Americans derived new meaning from the old conflict, tinting it with the rising sectional conflicts of their own time, seeking to remember the war as either a moment of common national purpose or as a vindication of state rights. Growing Southern nationalism and the secession movement coincided with an increasing Southern desire to visit regional attractions and historic sites. Northerners rediscovered and used their battlefields for similar purposes, although they emphasized national unity amid sectional crisis. The increase in battlefield commemoration during the antebellum eraemployed old rhetoric in new ways by using place as a legitimizing factor in sectional political rhetoric.

Keywords:   antebellum Americans, Civil War, sectional politics, battlefield commemoration, nationalism, secession movement

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