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 12380 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Linda, a bunch of my Latino immigrant friends went to the March for Life or the West Coast Walk for Life. Us white Catholics are grateful for their support. There will be no room for racism in the pro-life movement.

  2. “Proud Globalist Race Traitor says:
    January 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm
    Linda, a bunch of my Latino immigrant friends went to the March for Life or the West Coast Walk for Life. Us white Catholics are grateful for their support. There will be no room for racism in the pro-life movement.”

    Until the dwindling handful of Whites finally understand that THEY wil lpay for the feeding and breeding of all those Darling Pet Darkies, who grow up, and hang around outside, all over the place, and make those lovely tolerant I’m NOT a Racist Whites terrified to leave thier homes. The homes they can no longer sell. I’ve had old ladies literally burst into tears, on this very subject.

    The Rough Beast has already begun to slouch….

  3. Alex Jones video–Obama and The Royalty Factor is good video. Call him a fat Buffon or whatever—its still a great video. These Judeo Masons are a big problem and its no conspriacy—its fact-. Alex is right about these Royal jerks. Proud Globalist Race Traitor is out of his mind wanting to be a loyal SUBJECT and Slave/Serf of the CROWN. Piss On The NEW WORLD ORDER and their World Slave Plantation—they are Mutants. You are right Denise…

  4. Proud Globalist Race Traitor says:

    Dixiegirl, there are enough differences between the two parties that it can be considered a free democratic system. True that there should be more parties like in western Europe, and as I’ve said before, I agree with you about the problems with consumerism. Yet, even if our freedom is partially an illusion, it must be maintained because it’s sure a lot better than what we had before. As you read from comments like Svigor and Tamer of Savages, they want a world where people can be discriminated against simply because of skin color, where the government crushes all unapproved demonstrations, where women and men without property (even white ones) have political rights taken away (probably even you and Denise), where only a fortunate few can have education and healthcare….”

    If you are under 25 years old, you are forgiven. Otherwise, you just need to get your head out of your ass. You ARE VERY CLEARLY living in school books and ideas, not in the REALITY of the American people.

    I talked to someone who went to a “Political meeting” once. About fifteen people came to bash heads, and officials to catalogue and take people’s pictures. Millions are too alienated by lack of choice to even bother to vote. The population is grossly cynical.

    And no. It’s not “better than what we had before.”

    You are either really young, or really sheltered. Go talk to REAL people.

  5. Joan of Arc’s post is very good.

    Always wondered why more religious folks (trained preachers) have not taken on Hagee. You’d think young seminarians of all sorts would want to do so. One of the things they seem to be taught (that is the worst) is defeatism— that events are “inevitable” and they are supposed to just “take it” and be “martyred” and not fight. And that’s what God wants.

    A totally anti-life idea.

    Seminary should be an interesting place (where so much of the fight is going on). But young people don’t see that.

  6. Everyone going crazy about attack on Southern Border States by Chinese from Mexico. Linda Newkirk has Prophecy on this. Alex Jones in on this subject also: Obama: High Treason Closing Air Defense System on Mexican Border Is this Conspiracy Theory of what? We already have alot of Asians in San Fagfrisco and Hongcover (Vancover) plus they own all the properties for miles and miles on Chicago Main thru Street..Hum??? Plus the Asians are swamping the top colleges–they are taking all the Administrative Positions and so on—NO YELLOW PERIL? Bull–its real……..

  7. In the late 70s a book was written by Eric Thomson called CHINA, THE JEWS and WORLD WAR 3. The Venice Khazars financed ther Mongols to invade West. They did same thing with the Moors. Now they are doing same thing with China to sic em on us. Terrible Tommy Metzger of White Aryan Rersistance has a good book on Marranos and Jews in China. Its under Publications. Jack Ryan–whats your views on Chinese in Mexico to invade us? This is hot topic now…..

  8. Now that folks in Raleigh have decided to go with the girl already in the office as Chief of Police and african american Raleigh has some choices to make. Here is what folks used to say. Raleigh was the last of the safe american southern cities. Great place to drop some cash before hitting the beach for vacation season. Black police chief=black crime =black takeover of Raleigh. It won’t work out like the liberals who pulled this fiasco planed. There is no such thing as White priveledge when there is a black president in office. Folks won’t be able to sit around sipping their coffe and ejoying downtown life in a virtual all white southern city this time. Black crime will takeover tourism gone, the death of the last of the great southern cities is here. I won’t be bringing my money for tourist season this year from my colder location. Won’t spend money again in Raleigh or north Carolina until you boys down there get control of your capital city. Get the liberals out!

  9. Free Book of the Day — Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg [Kindle Edition]

    My Review:

    , Three out of Five Stars; Other than THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the Play?

    by Pastor Lindstedt

    I make a review of when I get a free downloadable book for my Kindle. I’d say that fewer than one in a hundred do I actually read, and of them that I quickly scan over in order to make a quick review to my friends is more like one oi a couple of hundred. The point of my review is to get people to make a free download within a few day period and then to read it as useful to them.

    These Stackpole Military History Series Kindle e-books are always a good deal. I and my readers love books about war, especially if written by Germans or Southerners or the Politically Incorrect.

    The author takes a look at Major-General George Meade, a competent Union general who took command of the Union Army of the Potomac a few days before Gettysburg, and beat Robert E. Lee, the defeated demi-god who foolishly destroyed his own army in a pointless war of attrition. Meade was never a “meat-grinder” Union butcher like Grant and most of the Union generals, but rather used his army as efficiently more than most Union generals. Thus Meade defeated Lee at Gettysburg Even more tellingly, the Army of the Potomac was commanded by Meade for the duration of the war. Meade was never a back-stabber or conniver or a panderer to the newspapermen of the day like Sheridan and others. Meade served the Union army after the Civil War until his death in 1872.

    Meade is the “forgotten general” of the Civil War. The South raised up Robert E. Lee and “The Sacred Cause” while the successful Union generals went on to the Presidency or to the Little Big Horn. But the fact of the matter is that almost none of the Confederate generals, especially Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, had any strategic vision. They fought a war of attrition against Union forces that outnumbered them by three or six or ten to their one. Grant was nothing more than a butcher more than willing to lose two or three Union soldiers for every Rebel soldier until Lee ran out of soldiers and was surrounded at Appomattox. The strategy which should have been used was the same one that George Washington used after he lost the Battle of New York of never fighting without a chance of success and an escape route for his forces. Lee should have split up his forces into a few 20,000 armies to make a mass incursion expensive and then, like the Boer commandos, made 500 or 1000 man raids like Quantrill did to Kansas against the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to destroy food crops and the will to continue to support Lincoln.

    In every civil war, victory usually goes to the side willing to commit any and every atrocity in order to win by destroying any chance of political peace. Nathan Bedford Forrest and William Quantrill thus has more strategic sense than did Robert E. Lee, as did William T. Sherman, Phil Sheridan, and Abraham Lincoln, the Great Melungeon Tyrant and mass-murderer. Robert E. Lee got canonized for being a “good loser.” And thus George Meade, a decent and competent soldier, and humane man, was altogether forgotten, although he beat Robert Lee without benefit of overwhelming material and numerical superiority.

    It was a workmanlike book, but the author insists on judging 19th Century men by 21st Century notions. Very few White men liked negro slaves, and thus contrary to the now Politically-Correct yammerings that “The Civil War was about slavery”, nobody, including the Tyrant Lincoln dared say any such thing, even to Northern audiences who had to support the war. Most Northern or Border states had actual laws against “free negros”. Missouri had in the preamble to the 1821 State Constitution provisions for a thousand dollar fine and six months hard labor for anyone daring to bring in “free negroes.” No state, except perhaps Massachusetts wanted any wandering free negroes in their states and laws were made as such. Thus the Civil War — at least in the minds of the White Men of the time — was NOT about slavery. The Civil War was about who would be in power and whose interests would be served. The mercantile North or the agrarian South. And the South lost a civil war, based upon the considerations of all such wars, especially civil wars, over who would rule and who would serve. Most civil wars end in the destruction of the Empire.

    Which is why I’ll give this book a “Three out of Five-Star” Rating. It is inexcusable for a “historian” to populate ancient history with modern ‘men.’ Otherwise an excellent book, but as a modern joke puts it: “Other than THAT, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

    Hail Victory!!!

    Pastor Martin Luther Dzerzhinsky Lindstedt
    Church of Jesus Christ Christian/Aryan Nations of Missouri

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