By Stuart McConnell
The Grand military of the Republic, the most important of all Union military veterans' enterprises, was once the main strong single-issue political foyer of the past due 19th century, securing gigantic pensions for veterans and assisting to select 5 postwar presidents from its personal club. To its individuals, it was once additionally a mystery fraternal order, a resource of neighborhood charity, a supplier of leisure in small municipalities, and a patriotic association. utilizing GAR conference complaints, newspapers, songs, rule books, and native put up documents, Stuart McConnell examines this influential veterans' organization in the course of the years of its maximum strength.Beginning with an in depth examine the boys who joined the GAR in 3 localities—Philadelphia; Brockton, Massachusetts; and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin—McConnell is going directly to research the Union veterans' attitudes in the direction of their former accomplice enemies and towards a complete variety of noncombatants whom the verterans known as "civilians": stay-at-home townsfolk, Mugwump penion reformers, freedmen, ladies, and their very own little children. within the GAR, McConnell sees a gaggle of veterans attempting to deal with questions about the volume of society's legal responsibility to the negative and injured, where of battle thoughts in peacetime, and the which means of the "nation" and the individual's relation to it.McConnell aruges that, via the Nineties, the GAR used to be clinging to a preservationist model of yank nationalism that many white, middle-class Northerners came upon congenial within the face of the social upheavals of that decade. In impression, he concludes, the nineteenth-century profession of the GAR is a research within the microcosm of a state attempting to carry speedy to an older photo of itself within the face of big social swap.
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Extra info for Glorious contentment: the Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900
As these men settled back into their hometowns or moved west to new places, the associations of wartime faded. Many of the earliest Union veterans' organizations remained limited to ex-officers, while the more broadly based Grand Army of the Republic experienced a precipitous drop in membership in the 1870s, reaching a low of 26,899 in 1876. ) disappeared. And among prominent veterans, the most notable characteristic of war memoirs in the 1870s was their absence. Especially when compared with the experience of Page 21 ex-Confederates or with the bitter disillusionment and massive social upheavals that followed later demobilizations (notably after World War I), the return of Union veterans to civil life was smooth.
A second defect in the Grand Review's picture of national order, despite its awesome size and scope, was its exclusiveness. For one thing, it obviously included no partisans of the Confederate cause, who needed somehow to be returned to the national body politic. A Union victory parade was hardly the place for such reintegration. 20 The problem of sectional reintegration would continue to vex the Northerners. Among the Union veterans, in years to come, it would arise over such issues as Confederate monuments, Blue-Gray reunions, and the content of United States history textbooks.
By the same token, studies of wartime municipal politics or charity practices are clearly studies of civilians, not of warriors. Some of the new postwar emphasis, if that is indeed what it is, obviously can be attributed to the growth of social history as an intellectual outlook over the last two decades or so. Social historians in all areas of study have been inclined to focus on ordinary people rather than on leaders, on processes rather than on events, on the subtle connections between historical eras rather than on the radical discontinuities between them.
Glorious contentment: the Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900 by Stuart McConnell