Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War

Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War 1018 The Journal of American History March 2018 Swedenborg’s revelatory vision of the divine yearned might come from their wartime suf - order with the latent divinity of humanity r - fering. N e ight visions might conjure Christ em - alized in its earthly communities. bracing the fallen, a comfort for those on the This is an important book because it con - battlefield and the home front. Other dreams nects the nation’s self-proclaimed prophets not were less reassuring and might be debilitat - only to their pet theories for rectifying the na - ing for future actions. For instance, soldiers could have presentiments of their deaths, a tion’s ills but also to those personal and some - times-foolhardy failings that propelled them natural but gloomy foreboding that could into high-minded idealism and self-righteous become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the next resolve to acquire liberty and equality even if it battle. Southern planters projected their sub - necessitated violence. Maximilien Robespierrconscious e sense of vulnerability to slav - e sub said as much in his defense of terrorism beforv e ersions during unstable times. And Northern the French Convention in 1794. dreams might dwell repeatedly on the grief of loved ones being lost anonymously in faraway John S. Haller Jr. lands. Southern Illinois University White’s comments on leading figures are Carbondale, Illinois fascinating. As Stonewall Jackson lay dying, his doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax462 dreams replayed his life in precise reverse chr - o nology, ending with his rural boyhood. - Abra ham Lincoln, as a second example, dreamed Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and frequently of being on a boat moving toward Dreams during the Civil War. By Jonathan an indistinct destination. The dream often r - e W. White. (Chapel Hill: University of North curred during times of crisis, and the president Carolina Press, 2017. xxvi, 265 pp. $34.95.) took them seriously enough that he took time during cabinet meetings to discuss them. Yet Most historians understand that earli-er peo the author believes that the president attached ples put significant weight on night thoughts. For example, medieval people, who did not no morbid significance to them, repudiating sickly superstition. sleep in eight-hour shifts, would arise p - eri White’s fine book is a testament to the con - odically and note their dreams. Fewer of us tinuing value of American studies, an inter - have taken seriously the dreams of eras closer disciplinary field that I strongly believe in as to us. This is surprising, given the ample e-vi a disciple of Marcus Cunliffe, the founder of dence of their fascination for, say, Victorians. American studies in the United Kingdom. The Charles Dickens’A C s hristmas Carol (1843) University of North Carolina Press is also to may be read as a ghost story but also as a - n ex tended dream sequence. Jonathan W. White be commended for embracing this and other works of Civil War scholarship that chart new has made a major contribution to Civil War ground in such areas as the impact of the war studies by collecting and describing the night thoughts of people of the 1860s. He made a on the environment and the interwoven roles of race and gender in the conflict. wise decision not to delve into psych-ologi cal theory. For example, he does not assume Michael C. C. AdamsE , meritus that water dreams had a specific meaning. His Northern Kentucky University object is to elucidate Americans’ reactions to Highland Heights, Kentucky what they experienced. doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax463 Folk described their dreams with remar - k able precision, akin to diary entries. Perhaps if people seem pat in recalling dreams, it was for The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee. By R. David a purpose. For example, a soldier might write Cox. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017. xxii, his wife, recalling a dream in which she was 336 pp. Paper, $26.00.) unfaithful; the retelling was a caution against straying. Many dreams were aspirational, The phrase “Robert E. Lee, the Christian s-ol evoking hopes of good soldiers and civilians dier” has long defined the Virginian’s place Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1018/4932640 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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10.1093/jahist/jax463
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Abstract

1018 The Journal of American History March 2018 Swedenborg’s revelatory vision of the divine yearned might come from their wartime suf - order with the latent divinity of humanity r - fering. N e ight visions might conjure Christ em - alized in its earthly communities. bracing the fallen, a comfort for those on the This is an important book because it con - battlefield and the home front. Other dreams nects the nation’s self-proclaimed prophets not were less reassuring and might be debilitat - only to their pet theories for rectifying the na - ing for future actions. For instance, soldiers could have presentiments of their deaths, a tion’s ills but also to those personal and some - times-foolhardy failings that propelled them natural but gloomy foreboding that could into high-minded idealism and self-righteous become a self-fulfilling prophecy in the next resolve to acquire liberty and equality even if it battle. Southern planters projected their sub - necessitated violence. Maximilien Robespierrconscious e sense of vulnerability to slav - e sub said as much in his defense of terrorism beforv e ersions during unstable times. And Northern the French Convention in 1794. dreams might dwell repeatedly on the grief of loved ones being lost anonymously in faraway John S. Haller Jr. lands. Southern Illinois University White’s comments on leading figures are Carbondale, Illinois fascinating. As Stonewall Jackson lay dying, his doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax462 dreams replayed his life in precise reverse chr - o nology, ending with his rural boyhood. - Abra ham Lincoln, as a second example, dreamed Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and frequently of being on a boat moving toward Dreams during the Civil War. By Jonathan an indistinct destination. The dream often r - e W. White. (Chapel Hill: University of North curred during times of crisis, and the president Carolina Press, 2017. xxvi, 265 pp. $34.95.) took them seriously enough that he took time during cabinet meetings to discuss them. Yet Most historians understand that earli-er peo the author believes that the president attached ples put significant weight on night thoughts. For example, medieval people, who did not no morbid significance to them, repudiating sickly superstition. sleep in eight-hour shifts, would arise p - eri White’s fine book is a testament to the con - odically and note their dreams. Fewer of us tinuing value of American studies, an inter - have taken seriously the dreams of eras closer disciplinary field that I strongly believe in as to us. This is surprising, given the ample e-vi a disciple of Marcus Cunliffe, the founder of dence of their fascination for, say, Victorians. American studies in the United Kingdom. The Charles Dickens’A C s hristmas Carol (1843) University of North Carolina Press is also to may be read as a ghost story but also as a - n ex tended dream sequence. Jonathan W. White be commended for embracing this and other works of Civil War scholarship that chart new has made a major contribution to Civil War ground in such areas as the impact of the war studies by collecting and describing the night thoughts of people of the 1860s. He made a on the environment and the interwoven roles of race and gender in the conflict. wise decision not to delve into psych-ologi cal theory. For example, he does not assume Michael C. C. AdamsE , meritus that water dreams had a specific meaning. His Northern Kentucky University object is to elucidate Americans’ reactions to Highland Heights, Kentucky what they experienced. doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax463 Folk described their dreams with remar - k able precision, akin to diary entries. Perhaps if people seem pat in recalling dreams, it was for The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee. By R. David a purpose. For example, a soldier might write Cox. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017. xxii, his wife, recalling a dream in which she was 336 pp. Paper, $26.00.) unfaithful; the retelling was a caution against straying. Many dreams were aspirational, The phrase “Robert E. Lee, the Christian s-ol evoking hopes of good soldiers and civilians dier” has long defined the Virginian’s place Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1018/4932640 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

Journal

The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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