Sunday, April 1, 2018

Erik Mathisen's "The Loyal Republic"

Erik Mathisen is a research associate in the School of History at Queen Mary University of London.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Loyal Republic: Traitors, Slaves, and the Remaking of Citizenship in Civil War America, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Framing the war not as an armed conflict between two parts of the same nation but as a war that could, with American victory, turn defeated Confederates into colonial subjects set the conflict on entirely new ground... Coming as it did at a high-water mark in the debate over loyalty, the imagining of the South as a colonial possession–and white southerners stripped of their status as citizens–foreshadowed federal wartime policy.
The Loyal Republic is about how ideas about individual loyalty to two warring nation-states brought about a re-definition of citizenship during the Civil War. Not only did this re-definition change the way that people understood their relationship to two modern states. It also encouraged a debate among those still loyal to the United States about the place of white southerners in a hoped-for unified, post-war republic. While historians have long pointed to the argument made by white southerners that their region assumed a subservient place in a post-war Union, scholars have interpreted this argument as hyperbolic rhetoric. What The Loyal Republic argues is that this idea of the South as a colony was openly debated in and out of Congress by Unionists during the Civil War as well. What this helps us to see is an alternate history of the war and its aftermath. While former Confederate citizens would be welcomed back into the national fold in time, the fusion of loyalty and citizenship during and immediately following the war suggests a more complicated process than the literature on the period often allows.
Visit Erik Mathisen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue