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Twice-Divided Nation

National Memory, Transatlantic News, and American Literature in the Civil War Era
Samuel Graber

BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942384 · $70.00 · Feb 2019
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813942391 · $70.00 · Feb 2019
BUY Paper · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813942407 · $35.00 · Feb 2019

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, American Library Association (2019)

The first thoroughly interdisciplinary study to examine how the transatlantic relationship between the United States and Britain helped shape the conflicts between North and South in the decade before the American Civil War, Twice-Divided Nation addresses that influence primarily as a problem of national memory.

Samuel Graber argues that the nation was twice divided: first, by the sectionalism that resulted from disagreements concerning slavery; and second, by Unionists’ increasing sense of alienation from British definitions of nationalism. The key factor in these diverging national concepts of memory was the emergence of a fiercely independent press in the U.S. and its connections to Britain and British news.

Failing to recognize this shifting transatlantic dynamic during the Civil War era, scholars have overlooked the degree to which the conflict between the Union and the Confederacy was regarded at home and abroad as a referendum not merely on Lincoln’s election or the Constitution or even slavery, but on the nationalist claim to an independent past. Graber shows how this movement toward cultural independence was reflected in a distinctively American literature, manifested in the writings of such diverse figures as journalist Horace Greeley and poet Walt Whitman.


Graber has achieved a significant synthesis of political and diplomatic history, Christian ecclesiology, transnational military history, nineteenth-century literary criticism, the nineteenth-century Euro-American history of the press, and the history of popular spectacle. He shows persuasively how current events in the 1850s were shaped by the social, political, and spiritual elements that constitute cultural meaning."—

Jane E. Schultz, Indiana University–Purdue University–Indianapolis, author of Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America

Linking the development of a new, presentist form of U.S. national memory to the transatlantic news cycle of the 1850s and its impact on the sectionalist crisis, Graber demonstrates the importance of a spiritual dimension that previous accounts of print-culture nationalism have neglected.

Timothy Sweet, West Virginia University, editor of Literary Cultures of the Civil War

This book is ambitious in scope and evidence; advanced readers in the humanities will relish the opportunity to reflect on another fractious period in United States history... Graber’s contribution to the study of American memory is remarkable. Essential for graduate students, faculty, and researchers.


About the Author(s): 

Samuel Graber is Assistant Professor of Humanities and Literature at Valparaiso University.

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