Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Loyal Subjects

Loyal Subjects: Bonds of Nation, Race, and Allegiance in Nineteenth-Century America

Elizabeth Duquette
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Loyal Subjects
    Book Description:

    When one nation becomes two, or when two nations become one, what does national affiliation mean or require? Elizabeth Duquette answers this question by demonstrating how loyalty was used during the U.S. Civil War to define proper allegiance to the Union. For Northerners during the war, and individuals throughout the nation after Appomattox, loyalty affected the construction of national identity, moral authority, and racial characteristics.Loyal Subjectsconsiders how the Civil War complicated the cultural value of emotion, especially the ideal of sympathy. Through an analysis of literary works written during and after the conflict-from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Chiefly About War Matters" through Henry James'sThe Bostoniansand Charles Chestnutt's "The Wife of His Youth," to the Pledge of Allegiance and W.E.B. Du Bois'sJohn Brown, among many others-Duquette reveals that although American literary criticism has tended to dismiss the Civil War's impact, postwar literature was profoundly shaped by loyalty.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5112-8
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Pledging Allegiance
    (pp. 1-16)

    Tens of thousands of American children recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time on October 21, 1892. Planned to correspond with the dedication ceremony for the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago, the Pledge of Allegiance was one part of a pedagogical program designed by the staff at theYouth’s Companionto inculcate patriotic habits among American children.¹ Like the fair itself, which Charles Eliot Norton likened to “a great promise, even a great pledge,” the “1892 Columbus Day Programme” was designed to honor “what the flag … stood for, thereasonfor loyalty,” its writer, Francis Bellamy, later...

  5. 1 Loyalty, Oaths, and the Nation
    (pp. 17-60)

    When he signs the contract with Captains Bildad and Peleg, Ishmael consents to join thePequod’s crew, assuming a share of the responsibilities and earning a percentage of the profits. Through this scene, and its protracted haggling over what Ishmael will earn on the voyage, Herman Melville provides the reader ofMoby-Dick(1851) with an example of consent characterized by choice and reflection. It is not long, however, before a second model of consent supplants the first. After thePequodhas set sail, Captain Ahab demands the crew agree to a new mission—the quest to destroy the white whale....

  6. 2 One Big Happy Family, Again?
    (pp. 61-99)

    “The country is weary of being cheated with plays upon words,” observed James Russell Lowell at the start of the Civil War.¹ “We all declare for liberty,” Abraham Lincoln told a presumably wearier Baltimore audience in 1864, “but in using the samewordwe do not all mean thesame thing.”² Three years later, Edward A. Pollard echoed these claims, arguing that “shallow” partisan accounts had fatally misrepresented Southern values and had thus played a more than nominal role in driving the nation to war: it was wrong to call the “system of negro servitude” slavery or the “war of...

  7. 3 Pledging Allegiance in Henry James
    (pp. 100-136)

    In the 1880s, readers and theatergoers fell in love with the reunion romance.¹ Unlike the novels examined in the previous chapter, the stories that held American audiences captive were far from ambivalent about the promise of romantic love. Not only did they heartily embrace the idea of its healing potential, they were also openly nostalgic for the lost elegance of the Old South and explicitly committed to the redemptive power of masculine heroism. AsShenandoah: A Military Comedy(1889), the hit play by Northerner Bronson Howard, makes clear, later reunion romances dispensed with political theorizing.² In its opening act, two...

  8. 4 Loyalty’s Slaves
    (pp. 137-178)

    A cartoon published in theChicago Inter-Oceanon May 30, 1898, shows two soldiers on a pedestal engraved in bold black letters with the word “loyalty” (fig. 6). The man on the left carries a U.S.A. ’61 canteen, identifying him as a Union veteran; his companion, mounting the pedestal, has a C.S.A. ’61 canteen and wears the Confederate’s slouch hat. Both men are draped in the national flag as they stare off at a distant fire, Cuba in flames. “One decoration will do for both this year,” its caption asserts, underscoring the cartoon’s message that the Spanish-American War finalized the...

  9. 5 Philosophies of Loyalty
    (pp. 179-218)

    In 1905, Josiah Royce, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, urged members of the Chicago and the New York Ethical societies to reflect on a perennial and intractable social problem—the problem of race. “Is it a ‘yellow peril,’ a ‘black peril,’ or perhaps, after all, is it rather some form of a ‘white peril,’” he challengingly asked, “which most threatens the future of humanity in this day of great struggles and of complex issues?”¹ Royce was certainly not alone in considering the question of race and its role in American life at the beginning of the twentieth century; in...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 219-222)

    There is no denying that the Civil War was a pivotal moment in American history. Emancipation and national consolidation, important discoveries in medicine and technology, the reorganization of economic practices, and the institution of the income tax, to name only a few, all date from the war. As a literary scholar, I might add to this list the rise of realism as the dominant literary genre in the later nineteenth century. As Henry James notes inHawthorne(1879): “The subsidence of that great convulsion has left a different tone from the tone it found and one may say that the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 223-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-276)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)