Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Typically students are taught that at the beginning of the American Civil War the primary motivating factors for soldiers in the North were political, ideological, desiring a sense of adventure, or simply the over arching theme of patriotism. My dissertation addresses how anger in the North over the seizure of federal property in the South throughout the secession crisis was vehement and widespread and was a leading factor in the response. I argue that following John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry factions within the deep-South immediately began planning for a separate Confederate nation. Immediately Southern state officials began to supplant federal authority asserting that if the Federal Government would not protect them than they would be forced to protect themselves. Discovering the massive costs involved with creating the infrastructure to support this new nation and raising an army and navy to defend it they eventually settled upon simply seizing the Federal property that lay within their borders. Following South Carolina’s secession, Republicans and moderate Democrats in the North were continually subjected to outrage as Federal properties were overrun by Confederate, State, and local officials and the Buchanan Administration sat idly by. By studying newspapers, political speeches, religious sermons, private letters, and a host of other sources from this period we see a continual reference to anger at the South and seeking of retribution. Following Lincoln’s inauguration and the firing on Fort Sumter, Lincoln’s call for volunteers to retake the federal property received an overwhelming response increasing the size of the U.S. military more than 40 fold in a matter of less than a year without the need for a conscription law. My dissertation expands on the ideas of what motivates an individual in 19th century America to voluntarily leave their home, family, and friends and enter into a conflict that seemingly would have little impact on an individuals daily life. I conclude with the Battle of Bull Run when Northern anger becomes more focused on the costs and the loss of human life in the battle and the violence that would follow. e
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