From the earliest stirrings of southern nationalism to the defeat of the Confederacy, analysis of European nationalist movements played a critical role in how southerners thought about their new southern nation. Southerners argued that because the Confederate nation was cast in the same mold as its European counterparts, it deserved independence. In Newest Born of Nations: European Nationalist Movements and the Making of the Confederacy
(UVA Press, 2020),
Ann Tucker utilizes print sources such as newspapers and magazines to reveal how elite white southerners developed an international perspective on nationhood that helped them clarify their own national values, conceive of the South as distinct from the North, and ultimately define and legitimize the Confederacy.
While popular at home, claims to equivalency with European nations failed to resonate with Europeans and northerners, who viewed slavery as incompatible with liberal nationalism. Forced to reevaluate their claims about the international place of southern nationalism, some southerners redoubled their attempts to place the Confederacy within the broader trends of nineteenth-century nationalism. More conservative southerners took a different tack, emphasizing the distinctiveness of their nationalism, claiming that the Confederacy actually purified nationalism through slavery. Southern Unionists likewise internationalized their case for national unity. By examining the evolution of and variation within these international perspectives, Tucker reveals the making of a southern nationhood to be a complex, contested process.
Dr. Ann Tucker
is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Georgia. Her research focuses on the U.S. South from an international perspective.
Chris Babits is an Andrew W. Mellon Engaged Scholar Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches the intersecting histories of medicine, religion, and gender and sexuality and is currently working on his book about the history of conversion therapy in the United States.