Suffering, Sacrifice, and the Trials of Nationalism
After 1861, the development of Confederate nationalism was principally shaped by the determinative context of war. To be sure, old patterns remained: southerners continued to feel ambivalence about American national identity, and they continued to define their own distinctiveness in large part by vilifying their northern enemies. But war infused nationalism and citizenship with new urgency. The sense of shared victimhood that had always been so important was intensified by the passions of war, and was sanctified by the suffering of war, bringing the individual and the nation closer together in sacred bonds of blood sacrifice. For all white southerners—the die-hard Confederates, the intransigent Unionists, and the large majority torn between the two, the problems of nationalism had come to matter more by 1865 than ever before.
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