'Not Buried Yet': northern responses to the death of Jefferson Davis and the stuttering progress of sectional reconciliation

Cook, Robert (2018) 'Not Buried Yet': northern responses to the death of Jefferson Davis and the stuttering progress of sectional reconciliation. Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. ISSN 1537-7814 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This article, the first detailed scholarly assessment of northern responses to the death of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis in December 1889, contributes to ongoing scholarly debates over the troubled process of sectional reconciliation after the Civil War. Southern whites used their leader’s funeral obsequies to assert not only their affection for the deceased but also their devotion to the Lost Cause that he had championed and embodied. Based on an analysis of northern newspapers and mass-circulation magazines in the two weeks after Davis’s death, the essay demonstrates that many northerners, principally Republican politicians and editors, Union veterans and African Americans, were outraged by southerners’ flagrant willingness to laud a man whom they regarded as the arch-traitor and that they remained opposed to reconciliation on southern terms. However, despite continuing concerns about public displays of affection for the Confederacy evident at the time of Davis’s reinterment in Richmond in May 1893, northern opposition to the Lost Cause waned rapidly in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Full-blown sectional reconciliation occurred after the Republicans gave up on their efforts to enforce black voting rights in the South and President William McKinley’s imperialist foreign policy necessitated, and to some degree garnered, support from southern whites. The death of Jefferson Davis, therefore, can be seen as an important event in the difficult transition from a heavily sectionalized postwar polity to a North-South rapprochement based heavily on political pragmatism, sentiment, nationalism, and white supremacism.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for American Studies
Depositing User: Robert Cook
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2018 17:27
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2018 17:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76658

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