Review: America Aflame

David Goldfield's, "America Aflame: How The Civil War Created a Nation"
David Goldfield’s, “America Aflame: How The Civil War Created a Nation”

United States, 1834-1876

David Goldfield’s America Aflame: How The Civil War Created a Nation is a sweeping antiwar take on the Civil War era and a throwback to Avery Craven’s “blundering generation” thesis.

Goldfield sets the “Civil War” with the Confederacy in the context of other perceived threats to mid-nineteenth century America: Roman Catholics, Mexicans, Indians, and labor unions. The preferred solution by Yankees to each of these threats was the use of violence.

Far from being an “Irrepressible Conflict,” Goldfield pins the blame for the War Between the States on the intolerance and fanaticism that was injected into the political process by the rise of evangelical Christianity during the Second Great Awakening.

Northern evangelicals like Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison transformed “political issues into moral causes” which “poisoned the political process,” undermined the political center inhabited by moderates like Stephen Douglas and Alexander Stephens, created an atmosphere of moral certitude in which compromise was impossible, and finally alienated the South to the point of destroying the Union.

Confident of their personal relationship with the Almighty, the Saints of New England tragically marched off to wage their crusade to “save the Union” against the wicked “Slave Power” which had thwarted them for so long. Southern evangelicals were no less certain that God was on their side. Somewhere in the midst of the carnage of battles like Cold Harbor, Northerners were chastened by Confederate guns and their religious fervor began to subside.

The “Civil War” created a “nation”: Goldfield argues that this nation, modern America, a consolidated activist government supervising an industrialized economy in which national citizenship in the sacred Union has replaced state citizenship in a loose confederation of sovereign states, was synonymous with the Republican Party and the victorious Northern states, which dominated the country until the Great Depression.

The North, or postbellum “America,” lost its religious enthusiasm and embraced the gospel of science and material progress. Northerners moved on into the Industrial Revolution of the 1870s and lost themselves in the consumer cornucopia that emerged in its wake. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the incendiary antebellum anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, moved to Florida, converted to Episcopalianism, and spent her elderly years writing books on interior design.

The South became an internal colony of the United States, a much larger version of Cuba or Puerto Rico, in everything but name. 1 out of every 4 White men between 20 and 40 had died in the war. Two thirds of Southern wealth was wiped out during the War Between the States. The South was reduced to political, cultural, and economic irrelevance within the Northern-dominated Union and wouldn’t even return to the level of per capita income it had in 1860 until the 1920s.

Like the Irish or the Poles, Southerners did not move on from the war. Evangelical Christianity wasn’t discredited in the South. It became synonymous with an emerging Southern folk culture, the Redemption movement, and the Lost Cause. The years between the end of Reconstruction and World War I was a period of intense nation building in “Dixie” in which the South developed a sense of national consciousness that had barely existed at the outset of the Confederacy.

The North quickly lost its zeal for imposing Reconstruction on the South. In particular, the emerging “Celtocracy” of Irish Catholic immigrants in Northeastern cities such Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City created a new sense of sympathy among Northern Protestants for White Southerners whose intelligence and property was also being swamped by the misrule of inferior races.

In the Western states, the energies of William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Armstrong Custer were redirected from Georgia and the Shenandoah Valley and turned toward the pacification and annihilation of the Plains Indians. The Sioux and the buffalo that sustained their savage way of life were exterminated and the vast Midwestern agricultural empire which is dominated today by agribusiness was created in the Plains from the Dakotas to Kansas.

Goldfield closes America Aflame with a look at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia which closed the first century of America’s existence: a continent had been conquered, the Union had been preserved, slavery had been overthrown, and America seemed to be on a dizzying upward trajectory with everything from steel to electricity to the telephone to Heinz’s ketchup making its appearance.

Somehow the “Civil War” had made it all possible. But at what cost?

About Hunter Wallace 12367 Articles
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50 Comments

  1. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the incendiary antebellum anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, moved to Florida, converted to Episcopalianism, and spent her elderly years writing books on interior design.

    That’s just perfect and not unlike Harper Lee, another one-and-done swipe at good white men by a silly woman. The anti-White book was just the cashcow now she can move on to her real passions: rococo and Duncan Phyfe.

    The North quickly lost its zeal for imposing Reconstruction on the South. In particular, the emerging “Celtocracy” of Irish Catholic immigrants in Northeastern cities such Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City created a new sense of sympathy among Northern Protestants for White Southerners whose intelligence and property was also being swamped by the misrule of inferior races.

    Those Catholics made great draftees to put Negroes in charge down south….Lesson learned? Course not. Welcome to the suburbs.

  2. The Confederacy would need its own Harpers Ferry or 1916 GPO to counter this sort of mythology. Even then it would be a forlorn hope and tragedy.

    It’s a good idea to look at Scotland, Catalonia and other peaceful breakaway republics.

  3. What no theocracy or something no more holy wars? We all know about those evil AshekNazis that had been evil in the former Russian Empire had to go, no it was that Nazi hatin Adolf who had to go, him and the “Hun”(Germany). There were more “holy” wars, they just fought for a different belief, the belief in Niceness(let me make money and I don’t care if you marry my daughter off to a nigger or cheat me out of my birthright), Democrazy and we hate whites but most especially Germans.

    Excuse the tangent, Though theocracy might not be too bad, just please not the faith of equality. Actually what possessed anyone to feel for the damned Negro? Strange, most strange.

  4. The more and more you look at the substance of BRA the more the religious element of Braontium and Kingons or Malcolm X factor are religious in nature. Quantrell pin pointed it by calling it Nigger Worship.

  5. Somehow the “Civil War” had made it all possible. But at what cost?

    After beating the cancer of slavery, BRA has accumulated an impressive series of victories around the world, many in Europe. All the while denying persistent rumors of equalitoxin doping and wholesale blood replacement. BRA rebounded after a breakup with Crow to enjoy many more great years. Tune in tomorrow when BRA is interviewed by Oprah……

  6. Sounds like anti-slavery Evangelicals poisoned the discourse of voluntary Union from the North last time ’round. Now they poison the discourse of forced Union from the South with Zionism.

    If the South really wants to peacefully secede this time round, I think the best course of action would be to amp up the Zionism to the highest volume possible. Perhaps you can get the rest of the Union to ask you to leave.

    History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.

  7. How did you know the disoensationalist’s plan? Obnoxious Ra Ra Ra! For Israel pisses off leftists like nothing else.

  8. If the South really wants to peacefully secede this time round, I think the best course of action would be to amp up the Zionism to the highest volume possible.

    That’s actually brilliant and would pave the way for a pariah-state alliance with Iz. Texas and Israel are already known as “the two lonestar states”.

  9. haha, I love that they can never quit writing about the WBTS. That’s the best part, just the sheer textuality these people produce, trying to make it about something that suits them, other than the ethnic genocide of planter-grower-north-euro-protestants.

  10. Quote: “In particular, the emerging “Celtocracy” of Irish Catholic immigrants in Northeastern cities such Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City created a new sense of sympathy among Northern Protestants for White Southerners whose intelligence and property was also being swamped by the misrule of inferior races.”

    Are you saying that the Irish are racially inferior to the WASPs? How can this be possible if both the Irish and the WASPs are members of the white race?

  11. Indeed. America itself needs that kind of textuality to keep hope alive.

    Here’s another idea to help the South, that is right in line with its Evangelical Zionism. Get someone to uncover a secret text by a Jewish girl written in an attic somewhere in the South. The text would reveal the long, hidden reason for the Civil War. It turns out the South was protecting large Jewish populations near cities like Atlanta, and the Yankees couldn’t handle it. Another text could be found — a profoundly anti-semitic tract written by Lincoln. And there’s the last and final reason for the Civil War, ever.

    Not only could the South determine its own way from here on out. You could probably pave your streets with gold with reparations, and get 40 acres and a mule for every Southerner.

    Just don’t forget the little folks in Montana when you get there. Thanks.

  12. that’s just my poor grammar.

    And/Or… Perhaps.

    Many English would claim that England is subject to Scottish rule.
    For example Tony Blair needed Scottish seats in the Commons to win against the Tory Party. No Scotland no Labour majority.

  13. Here are the Dubliners performing Irish Rover.

    In the song the Irish are bringing the bricks to build city hall in NYC.

    A joyful song of takeover, sure, but It’s a takeover just the sane.

  14. Are you saying that the Irish are racially inferior to the WASPs? How can this be possible if both the Irish and the WASPs are members of the white race?

    The Irish subrace was socially inferior back when the United States was run by Anglos that distrusted the Catholics due to foreign allegiances. After those (northern) Anglos burned down half the country and set packs of feral Negroes, those Yankee WASPS became the inferior race. Without slavery there is no true freedom, the ancient Greeks fought for their freedom, not that of their slaves. We didn’t raise the Negro up, we lowered ourselves to his station. We are not gods, we can’t breathe life into clay. But we can debase ourselves and indeed BRAmericans have excelled in that.

    Every Yankee Doodle is born with the sin of Lincolnism tattooed on their heart and the burden is on them to erase it through education. The non-Whites in the North are drops in the bucket of justice that will one day overflow and leave the North a land of gated white communities and mexican favellas, such a land will have far too many internal quandaries to be interested in warring against good white Christians ever again.

  15. Every bumbling black president, every non-H1-B arrival weakens BRA further. The best part is they believe those things to be their strength. That is their religion. We should be on the frontlines championing these destructive policies while shielding the south in every possible way.

  16. Has anyone watched the video? It sounds like a jewish guy using the civil war to attack Evangelical christianity, keep christianity out of government, promote secularism and the jewish favorite idea, pluralism. Would the speaker demand pluralism in Israel?

    He tries to gain favor with catholics in the audience, showing just how much evangelicals hated them. Cause you know how jews have historically loved the Roman Catholic church!

    I think puritanism and protestant fundamentalism should be blamed for the Northerners agressive attitude towards their fellow Celtic/Germanic people in the South. But this speaker seems to have a distinct agenda. He is using the civil war to attack Evangelicals- similar to how jews have used blacks as a golem to attack European-Americans.

  17. No, I am saying that Northerners drew analogies between blacks in the South and Irish Catholics in New York City and Boston. In their eyes, Tammany Hall was as corrupt as any negro despotism in the South.

    This comes from the book. It is not my own view.

  18. Dixie—Avery Craven’s “The Coming of the Civil War” was used at both Radford, and Mary Washington.

    I wouldn’t call Craven a “northern” historian, even though he taught at the University of Chicago. That’s where the real Indiana Jones taught too. LOL.

  19. @ Dixie—I don’t believe all of this high brow bullshit about New England piety either. Those big city bastards in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago etc. used slavery as an excuse to attack and steal the wealth & property of the South.

  20. It’s hard to imagine a more dangerous government/military than one firmly in the hands of well-bred Anglo-Saxons that just “want to do right by” millions of po’ bwacks. It was just that for a hundred years. The 1965 immigration act was a blessing; along with lax border control it led to countless gear-jamming social contradictions in BRA.

    Call it Brandarin or Brazantium but we live in a BRA 2.0 that is markedly less stable than the old whites and blacks against whites early BRA.

  21. A nation of well bred Anglos braying over sherry and porter was the dream that attracted the eye of Sauron. 1965 was a bad year.

  22. Earl nailed it. The author’s assumption about anti slavery sentiments being a cause of the war of northern aggression is false. The war was about greed for tariff money from Southron cotton which financed the internal improvement programs in yankee land and fear a free South with low tariffs would crush the yankee economy. Hell the bastards would have lost their shipping monopoly on coastal trade as well. The notion of freeing the slaves did not catch on until they needed a better excuse for killing Southron Whites. Now their actions are more covert but just as hostile

  23. Giving every black tramp the right to vote was giving up the ghost. From there on out it couldn’t get worse, only end faster. Sauron was late to BRA and late to the internet and trying to make up for it ever since.

  24. Stonelifter is right here. Generally power is about the power to Tax.
    If a rebellion were ever staged again white troops would fire on white rebels, because those white troops would be thinking about index linked cibil service pensions. Who’s gonna pay that pension? The white tax slave.

  25. The WBTS was fought to free the slaves in the same way the war in Afghanistan is fought to free the women or WW2 was fought to save the Jews.

  26. Tariffs were key since the nullification crisis of course.
    But it wasn’t purely economic.

    I’d liken reconstruction to the early forced deveiling campaigns launched by Lenin among islamic populations.

  27. Earl Butz says:
    @ Dixie—I don’t believe all of this high brow bullshit about New England piety either. Those big city bastards in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago etc. used slavery as an excuse to attack and steal the wealth & property of the South….”

    yes, and I’m not at all convinced Protestants even had anything to do with it. NOW THAT might sound crazy, since we’ve heard that all our lives (the evil wasp, the evil puritan, the evil new england “yankee,” code for protestant, etc.)—-

    If you believe that narrative, then why wouldn’t you just go ahead and accept that the Civil War was “about slavery,” also.

    Well, sometimes history is “The Big Lie” and sometimes it’s not— LOL, depending on what suits whoever is speaking.

  28. —whoops, don’t let me forget the masons, illuminati, and rural redneck freakshow ignorance— Evil all!

  29. The masons did it! If it’s not the jews…it’s New England! Oh wait! It’s the northern euros who did all the slavery! Tarantino said so! Wait! It’s the Puritans!

  30. @Dixie—It’s propaganda that the motives of the North were anything, but, jealousy and a desire to steal Southern property by any means including using recent Catholic immigrants to make up as much as a third of the northern Army.

  31. Sounds like anti-slavery Evangelicals poisoned the discourse of voluntary Union from the North last time ’round. Now they poison the discourse of forced Union from the South with Zionism.

    Is that supposed to be English. English, muthafucka, do you speak it? FFS. Diction, man, diction.

  32. After beating the cancer of slavery

    You high? The Yankees too little samples of slavery and planted them throughout the body of the Republic. That’s like calling the Union’s victory in their war of aggression against the south “a victory against centralized power,” WWII a “victory against communism,” etc. What are you smokin? BRA promoted the cancer of slavery.

    Sounds like anti-slavery Evangelicals poisoned the discourse of voluntary Union from the North last time ’round.

    W…T…F does that mean? Did you learn English from EFL course? Seriously, I have no fucking idea what you even mean here. Christ almighty, English is spoken here.

    Are you saying that the Irish are racially inferior to the WASPs?

    Of course WASPs are superior to the Irish. What are you, a moron?

    How can this be possible if both the Irish and the WASPs are members of the white race?

    Chances your surname is Walker: 0%. “How can the F150 be inferior to the Silverado if both are members of the pickup truck race?”

    Fucking buffoon.

  33. I hate liberal Jews. I like Jews that dodge rock(et)s.

    Greatest friend of Jews that dodge rock(et)s= American Jewry, AKA, “liberal Jews.”

    Dumb fuck.

    Words of wisdom for the day: man is a piece of shit. Act accordingly.

    Seriously. The 1% needs to grok this: man is a piece of shit. The average man is a piece of shit. Repeat that to thy self ’til it sinks in. Man is a piece of shit, ever on the lookout for his 40 pieces of silver.

    Obviously, there are degrees. Yankees are bigger pieces of shit than Southrons. Jews are bigger pieces of shit than anyone. But the average man from any group is a piece of shit. He deserves to be manipulated, nothing more. End of story.

    The 1% owe him nothing. The two might as well be separate species.

  34. If you are an “everyman,” an “average joe,” my message to you is this: fuck you. You are a worthless piece of shit. If ever there was a lesson of history, that is it; you are a worthless…piece…of shit. You can be counted on for nothing. You can be counted on to do, nothing. You are nothing. Fuck…you.

    You do not deserve a vote. You do not deserve a hearing. You do not deserve justice.

    Because you are incapable of casting an informed vote, incapable of deserving anything beyond 3 hots and a cot, incapable of meting out (and therefore, undeserving of receiving) justice.

    You are born to be led. You are cattle on two legs. End of story.

  35. Now, granted, white average joes are far superior to nigger average joes (or the nigger 1% for that matter), Jew average joes (or Jew 1%, for that matter), etc.

    But the fact remains.

  36. Thanks Svigor. If the secessionist movement ever takes off, I’ll be sure to pass these words on to my Jewish media masters, so they can tell the average southern white man what someone who is an early forerunner of the movement really thinks of them. That rather than getting more freedom, they will actually have even less freedom under a white-centered regime. If you love dictatorship so much, move to Zimbabwe. And there are lots of commentators who have expressed similar opinions, so I’m not singling you out. God bless the 99%.

  37. Approximately 1% of the white race deserves to survive (okay, 0% of the non-white races deserve to survive, but bear with me). We should concentrate our efforts on that 1%, and say “fuck the rest.”

    WNs and the like deserve to survive. To hell with the rest.

    Error establishing a database connection

    Fuck you, too.

    Thanks Svigor. If the secessionist movement ever takes off, I’ll be sure to pass these words on to my Jewish media masters, so they can tell the average southern white man what someone who is an early forerunner of the movement really thinks of them. That rather than getting more freedom, they will actually have even less freedom under a white-centered regime. If you love dictatorship so much, move to Zimbabwe. And there are lots of commentators who have expressed similar opinions, so I’m not singling you out. God bless the 99%.

    And you, and the 99% (aka, douchebag free-riders).

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