Dissent and discontent in the confederate South, 1861-1865

Langley, Brian (2017) Dissent and discontent in the confederate South, 1861-1865. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

The thesis examines the complex nature of dissent and discontent across three Confederate states during the Civil War —South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Drawing on a range of sources, including post-war claims for compensation, women’s letters to the Confederate authorities and newspaper accounts of bread riots across the South, it broadens our understanding of the varied and often conservative nature of much Confederate dissent and discontent. Critically, the research distinguishes between southerners, who often asserted their loyalty to the Confederacy, but were profoundly unhappy with the impact of the war on their families, and other southerners implacably opposed to the Confederacy or completely indifferent to its calls on their allegiance. In the Confederate South, dissent was not the same as discontent and discontent did not always indicate disloyalty.

The focus of the research is on ordinary white southerners and the meaning that dissent and discontent had for them. Through a re-reading of women’s letters and a detailed analysis of the southern bread riots, the research reappraises the meaning of women’s protest and challenges the current scholarship viewing such protests and petitioning as a political awakening of poor white women seeking new entitlements from the state. Using Southern Claims Commission records, the dissertation also reconsiders the meaning of southern unionism, suggesting that such attachments were often highly subjective and essentially cultural in nature. Many southerners, including both men and women, may have shared a self-proclaimed attachment to the Union but understood the meaning of that loyalty in very different ways. Whilst dissenting southern unionists and women bread rioters may make unfamiliar bedfellows, together they illustrate the complicated but essentially conservative nature of much Confederate dissent and discontent often seeking the restoration of older and more stable arrangements in the face of the disruption of secession and the war.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 10:43
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2019 08:07
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/36259

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