Embroiled in the Civil War, northerners wrote and spoke with frequency about the subject of loyalty. The word was common in newspaper articles, political pamphlets, and speeches, appeared on flags, broadsides, and prints, was written into diaries and letters and the stationary they appeared on, and even found its way into sermons. Its ubiquity suggests that loyalty was an important concept…but what did it mean to those who used it? Contested Loyalty examines the significance of loyalty across fault lines of gender, social class, and education, race and ethnicity, and political or religious affiliation. These differing vantage points reveal the complicated ways in which loyalties were defined, prioritized, acted upon, and related.
While most of the scholarly work on Civil War Era nationalism has focused on southern identity and Confederate nationhood, the essays in Contested Loyalty examine the variable, fluid constructions of these concepts in the north. Essays explore the limitations and incomplete nature of national loyalty and how disparate groups struggled to control its meaning. The authors move beyond the narrow partisan debate over Democratic dissent to examine other challenges to and competing interpretations of national loyalty.
Today’s leading and emerging scholars examine loyalty through: the frame of politics at the state and national level; the viewpoints of college educated men as well as the women they courted; the attitudes of northern Protestant churches on issues of patriotism and loyalty; working class men and women in military industries; how employers could use the language of loyalty to take away the rights of workers; and the meaning of loyalty in contexts of race and ethnicity.
The Union cause was a powerful ideology committing millions of citizens, in the ranks and at home, to a long and bloody war. But loyalty to the Union cause imperfectly explains how citizens reacted to the traumas of war or the ways in which conflicting loyalties played out in everyday life. The essays in this collection point us down the path of greater understanding.
Foreword by Gary W. Gallagher
Robert M. Sandow
1. “Dedicated to the Proposition”: Principle, Consequence, and Duty to the Egalitarian Nation, 1848–1865
2. Connecticut Copperhead Constitutionalism: A Study of Peace Democratic Political Ideology during the Civil War
3. “I Do Not Understand What the Term ‘Loyalty’ Means”: The Debate in Pennsylvania over Compensating Victims of Rebel Raids
Jonathan W. White
4. “We Are Setting the Terms Now”: Loyalty Rhetoric in Courtship
Julie A. Mujic
5. Loyal to the Union: College-Educated Soldiers, Military Leadership, Politics, and the Question of Loyalty
6. “Patriotism Will Save Neither You Nor Me”: William S. Plumer’s Defense of an Apolitical Pulpit
Sean A. Scott
7. “American Matrons and Daughters”: Sewing Women and Loyalty in Civil War Philadelphia
8. “A Source of Mortification to All Truly Loyal Men”: Allegheny Arsenal’s Disloyal Worker Purge of 1863
Timothy J. Orr
9. “All of That Class That Infest N.Y.”: Perspectives on Irish American Loyalty and Patriotism in the Wake of the New York City Draft Riots
Ryan W. Keating
10. “Deeds of Our Own”: Loyalty, Soldier Rights, and Protest in Northern Regiments of the United States Colored Troops
List of Contributors
Contested Loyalty is well timed to engage a growing body of scholarship on civil liberties and national allegiance in Civil War North. This volume offers readers the opportunity to learn about the problem of loyalty in the wartime North from historians both established and emerging in the field.
Frank Towers, University of Calgary
In Contested Loyalty: Debates over Patriotism in the Civil War North, ten essays by an impressive group of contributors effectively capture both the dimensions and character of attempts to define, and live with, a definition of loyalty that could sustain a great war effort while also maintaining basic civil rights and liberties. The Civil War generation wrestled with timeless questions that seem as pertinent today as they did 150 years ago, reminding us that our republic always has been, and remains, a work in progress.
Gary W. Gallagher, from the foreword
As frustratingly shifting and amorphous as they proved to be, concepts of loyalty in the Civil War era North remain popular topics of study these days, and the essays comprising Contested Loyalty offer a fine survey of the range and current state of the scholarship... these essays amply demonstrate how Civil War conflicts over loyalty and the limits of dissent permeated all elements of northern society, their wartime debates taking many forms with results ranging from productive to disappointingly repressive.
Civil War Books and Authors