The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America

The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America What makes the lower Midwest distinctive? In his thought-provoking monograph, Matthew E. Stanley contends that the “anti-black, anti-Confederate, anti-eastern” intellectual traditions rooted in the counties of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois closest to the Ohio River shaped the politics of not just the region but also the nation (p. 9). Adding details to the arguments of his graduate adviser Christopher Phillips, Stanley describes how the people of the “first West” were agrarian champions of local rule and believers in white supremacy who opposed the Yankee-inflected culture that came to dominate the Great Lakes regions of their states. In counties settled by southerners, residents held a Jeffersonian belief in individual liberty and were agnostic on the slavery question. They championed Stephen Douglas's popular-sovereignty solution and then fervently tried to prevent the Civil War through the Crittenden Compromise (1860) and the Corwin Amendment (1861). Stanley suggests that even the Copperhead movement can be understood as an attempt at a loyal, antiwar opposition until terms such as butternut and conservative came to denote Confederate sympathies rather than an older lower North politics of moderation. Postwar Lower Middle Westerners transmuted the spatial and geocultural terminology of war opponents into cutting critiques of Radical Republican policy, calls for economic populism, radicalized public policy, and their own form of commemoration, leading the charge away from Congressional Reconstruction and toward white reunion, Stanley argues (p. 97). This is what he labels “the Loyal West”: a narrative insisting that white veterans, generals, and politicians from the region saved the country from the excesses of both Confederates and Yankees, and that they “endured rather than embraced emancipation” (p. 77, emphasis in original). Loyal West priorities shaped veterans organizations, including the Grand Army of the Republic; they fostered blue-gray reunions and, Stanley contends, they led to the emergence of sundown towns and the second Ku Klux Klan. As a native of the region, Stanley mentions that some of these reactionary attitudes linger in these counties to this day. Stanley's book is an intellectual history of a rarely recognized middle-American political culture. His work adds a crucial piece to the puzzle of mid-nineteenth-century politics in the middle of the country, alongside recent works on the efforts at compromise and reconciliation in Missouri, Kentucky, and the upper Midwest, among German Americans, “belated Confederates,” and others. Stanley rightly challenges the generalizations in earlier scholarship by Chandra Manning, David Blight, and others who did not pay enough attention to regional differences in their accounts of white Union soldiers' motivations or memories of the war. Yet, even when focusing on the southern half of three states, Stanley still must make his own generalizations as he pulls together quotations from a diffuse regional school of thought. In The Loyal West Stanley makes the case for the importance of midwestern intellectual traditions as a conservative rudder in American politics. Though his passionate arguments are, at times, clad in unnecessary jargon, his book is bold and deserves a wide reading among scholars of all American sections and regions. © 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/the-loyal-west-civil-war-and-reunion-in-middle-america-aSHO7yzGla
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© 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.
ISSN
0021-8723
eISSN
1945-2314
D.O.I.
10.1093/jahist/jax473
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

What makes the lower Midwest distinctive? In his thought-provoking monograph, Matthew E. Stanley contends that the “anti-black, anti-Confederate, anti-eastern” intellectual traditions rooted in the counties of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois closest to the Ohio River shaped the politics of not just the region but also the nation (p. 9). Adding details to the arguments of his graduate adviser Christopher Phillips, Stanley describes how the people of the “first West” were agrarian champions of local rule and believers in white supremacy who opposed the Yankee-inflected culture that came to dominate the Great Lakes regions of their states. In counties settled by southerners, residents held a Jeffersonian belief in individual liberty and were agnostic on the slavery question. They championed Stephen Douglas's popular-sovereignty solution and then fervently tried to prevent the Civil War through the Crittenden Compromise (1860) and the Corwin Amendment (1861). Stanley suggests that even the Copperhead movement can be understood as an attempt at a loyal, antiwar opposition until terms such as butternut and conservative came to denote Confederate sympathies rather than an older lower North politics of moderation. Postwar Lower Middle Westerners transmuted the spatial and geocultural terminology of war opponents into cutting critiques of Radical Republican policy, calls for economic populism, radicalized public policy, and their own form of commemoration, leading the charge away from Congressional Reconstruction and toward white reunion, Stanley argues (p. 97). This is what he labels “the Loyal West”: a narrative insisting that white veterans, generals, and politicians from the region saved the country from the excesses of both Confederates and Yankees, and that they “endured rather than embraced emancipation” (p. 77, emphasis in original). Loyal West priorities shaped veterans organizations, including the Grand Army of the Republic; they fostered blue-gray reunions and, Stanley contends, they led to the emergence of sundown towns and the second Ku Klux Klan. As a native of the region, Stanley mentions that some of these reactionary attitudes linger in these counties to this day. Stanley's book is an intellectual history of a rarely recognized middle-American political culture. His work adds a crucial piece to the puzzle of mid-nineteenth-century politics in the middle of the country, alongside recent works on the efforts at compromise and reconciliation in Missouri, Kentucky, and the upper Midwest, among German Americans, “belated Confederates,” and others. Stanley rightly challenges the generalizations in earlier scholarship by Chandra Manning, David Blight, and others who did not pay enough attention to regional differences in their accounts of white Union soldiers' motivations or memories of the war. Yet, even when focusing on the southern half of three states, Stanley still must make his own generalizations as he pulls together quotations from a diffuse regional school of thought. In The Loyal West Stanley makes the case for the importance of midwestern intellectual traditions as a conservative rudder in American politics. Though his passionate arguments are, at times, clad in unnecessary jargon, his book is bold and deserves a wide reading among scholars of all American sections and regions. © 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.

Journal

The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off