Free Custom «Southerner Commitment to Confederacy War» Essay Paper

Free Custom «Southerner Commitment to Confederacy War» Essay Paper
In the 1960s, historian David Potter wrote that the idea that ?the people of the world fall naturally into a series of national groups is one of the dominating pre-suppositions of our time.? Potter revealed that historians use the framework of nationhood for two purposes. One is to discover the ?degree of cohesiveness or group unity? of a people. Studies in this vein focus on nationalism and the prerequisites of nationhood, such as a common language, religion, traditions, and institutions. Potter, though, chided historians who are quick to equate culture with nationhood. To be sure, studies in this line of inquiry generally do not reveal the extent to which ordinary people claimed the same cultural or national loyalty, and provide only a top-down view of Southern nationhood and the Confederacy. The second purpose of the nationhood framework addresses the validity of ?exercising autonomous powers.? This route of study is concerned with the relationship between individuals and the appropriateness of exercising regulatory or punitive power over them. ?It is axiomatic, ? Potter asserted, ?that people tend to give their loyalty to institutions which protect them?that is, safeguard their interests? and political allegiance throughout history has been regarded as something given reciprocally in return for protection.? Employing the framework in this context has led historians to concentrate on the development of central state authority and the extent to which a new Southern nation existed. Body By the summer of 1862, it can be contented that the Confederacy ?existed in its armies, in its emissaries, and in the hearts of its people?
there was a Confederate nation.? Furthermore, it is being claimed that proof of a nation existed in the government's ability to control the white labor supply through conscription and exemption, and the government's ability to control the products of war through the sup- ply departments that ?shared the pattern of increasing nationalism.? Emory Thomas extends this argument in his work The Confederate Nation, 1861? 1865. Thomas argues that by establishing a framework for central state authority, the delegates at Montgomery, Alabama, created the Southern nation. Evidence for this contention emerged in the structures created to maintain central state authority: financing the government through bonds, agricultural gifts that were turned into specie, the creation of a national army, and the skeletal organizations of supply and service for the armed forces. Richard Bensel takes this line of inquiry an additional step in his monograph, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859?1877. In his attempt to find ?the true foundational moment in American political development, ? Bensel claims that the development of a strong central state followed as a result of Southern secession and Northern repression. Bensel argues that war mobilization for the South outstripped the region's productive capability and economy, and consequentially, "the southern mobilization was far more state-centered and coordinated than its northern counterpart.? To support his argument, Bensel examines the centralization of Confederate authority, administrative capacity, the role of citizenship, control of property, the extraction of resources, and the conscription and exemption acts that were by far ?
the most important source of central state influence.? These studies focusing on the establishment of central state authority assume political loyalty on the states' behalf, and have pointed to the down- fall of the Southern nation due to cultural factors, military defeat, and poor governmental leadership. These studies also assume that individuals in the new Confederacy relied on the national government for the protection of individual rights. Whereas previous historians have pointed out the critical issue of states' rights and the failure of the Davis administration to address the problems of the common individual, still there exist few studies that actually test the relationship between the state and the Confederate government. This study endeavors to fill this gap by employing an original theory of nation building. The process of nation building is intricate. It involves the definition, establishment, security, and implementation of a political and economic identity. The responsibility for defining a political and economic identity partially rests on the elected political leaders who represent their constituents. In addition, the actions of the citizenry that mirror political rhetoric and action are an integral part of defining an identity. The extent to which this identity becomes established finds its expression in the actions of both the government and the people, and the magnitude to which they uphold and abide by this identity through the decisions that affect life, liberty, and property. Once defined and established, the security of this identity is tested in the nation's relationship with other official bodies and the degree to which the nation, through political action, strives to promote the economic security of the citizenry. Finally, for a nation to exist and function in its fullest sense, government must implement this identity by working to promote and protect the economic and social welfare of the citizenry. This work uses the state of Texas as a case study to explicate this process of nation building. It examines how Texas, during the Civil War, defined, established, secured, and implemented an identity separate from that of other Southern states. Historians of Texas have gone far in revealing the contrasting loyalties and intricate relationships that existed in the Lone Star State during the Civil War. Nevertheless, historians have paid little attention to testing these relationships on a larger scale. This gap is rather surprising because Charles W. Ramsdell and Frank Vandiver pointed out long ago the importance of state affairs as reactions to national politics.


The subnormal economic situation has penetrated to nearly every region of the earth. The difficulty of maintaining a harmonious adjustment of the delicate parts of the economic machine has led to an insistent demand for radical changes in government and social organization. Funda- mental economic forces themselves are being challenged as though they may be readily controlled or altered by mere human fiat.
Despite prevailing assertions, however, it seems clear that the stage has by no means been reached when mere changes in governmental organization or a redistribution of income will result in a satisfactory level of economic welfare. We are still far from the goal of an ideal standard of living. It is not for naught, therefore, that we have turned to the field of economic history for guidance in the solution of economic problems. Until recent years comparatively little emphasis has been placed on the economic aspects of history. It has been the vogue to regard history as a chronicle of political events or religious movements; as a portrayal of battles and military leaders. While political and religious history need not be minimized, it should be remembered that "the work of exploiting nature, if it has also its sordid side, has called forth the finest intellectual efforts and the finest qualities of character in men." Nor is economic history itself a simple narration of facts, with- out analysis and interpretation. If it remains true that the arts, religion, and learning "have meaning and vitality only in relation to their economic sub-structure," it can ill afford to preserve the calm indifference of the past toward precise thinking about economic policy. The observation has frequently been made that the problems arising as an aftermath of the World War have been too vast and too complex for any human mind to grasp. The fact is, however, that the economic system of today is more tenuous, and far more intricate and sensitive, than any that has yet been evolved.



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