Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Booknotes: The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship

New Arrival:
The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship edited by Paul Quigley
  (LSU Press, 2018).

Before, during, and after the Civil War "the boundaries and consequences of what it meant to be a citizen remained in flux," and The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship "offers a wide-ranging exploration of citizenship’s metamorphoses amid the extended crises of war and emancipation."

In the wake of Confederate defeat major concerns arose over the citizenship rights and status of both white southerners and freedpeople. "As these changes swept across the nation, Americans debated the parameters of citizenship, the possibility of adopting or rejecting citizenship at will, and the relative importance of political privileges, economic opportunity, and cultural belonging. Ongoing inequities between races and genders, over the course of the Civil War and in the years that followed, further shaped these contentious debates." The Civil War and the Transformation of American Citizenship "reveals how war, Emancipation, and Reconstruction forced the country to rethink the concept of citizenship not only in legal and constitutional terms but also within the context of the lives of everyday Americans..."

Edited by Paul Quigley, the volume's nine essays examine diverse topics in three themed sections. "Race and the Redefinition of Citizenship" looks at emerging questions regarding the citizenship of freedmen and freedwomen as well as that of Chinese immigrants and American Indians. In "Oaths, Occupations, and the Wartime Boundaries of Citizenship," contributors study Confederate prisoners of war and the oath of allegiance as well as the nature of citizenship in occupied Winchester and Nashville. The final section, "Forging New Forms of Citizenship After 1865," discusses postwar dimensions of citizenship for three groups—black firemen in southern cities, southern expatriates in Latin America, and Confederate veterans in the Reconstruction South.

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