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In the Name of God and Country

In the Name of God and Country: Reconsidering Terrorism in American History

Michael Fellman
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    In the Name of God and Country
    Book Description:

    With insight and originality, Michael Fellman argues that terrorism, in various forms, has been a constant and driving force in American history. In part, this is due to the nature of American republicanism and Protestant Christianity, which he believes contain a core of moral absolutism and self-righteousness that perpetrators of terrorism use to justify their actions. Fellman also argues that there is an intrinsic relationship between terrorist acts by non-state groups and responses on the part of the state; unlike many observers, he believes that both the action and the reaction constitute terrorism.

    Fellman's compelling narrative focuses on five key episodes: John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry; terrorism during the American Civil War, especially race warfare and guerrilla warfare; the organized "White Line" paramilitary destruction of Reconstruction in Mississippi; the Haymarket Affair and its aftermath; and the Philippine-American war of 1899-1902. In an epilogue, he applies this history to illuminate the Bush-Cheney administration's use of terrorism in the so-called war on terror.In the Name of God and Countrydemonstrates the centrality of terrorism in shaping America even to this day.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15501-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    “Through the terror caused by murders and threats, the colored people are thoroughly intimidated. . . . [They] are disfranchised [and] are to be returned to a condition of serfdom—an era of second slavery.”¹ With this letter, Adelbert Ames, the New England–born “carpetbag” Republican governor of Mississippi who had attempted to bring African Americans into the political process, thereby provoking southern white men to acts of racial violence, confessed to his wife in October 1875 that he had lost political control of his state to a well-organized white-supremacist terrorist movement. Coming in the aftermath of the Civil War,...

  4. CHAPTER 1 John Brown: Slavery and Terrorism
    (pp. 14-56)

    One hot summer day in 1859, the New York journalist Frederick Law Olmsted was riding with an overseer on a large Mississippi cotton plantation:

    We were crossing . . . a deep gully . . . when the overseer suddenly stopped his horse, exclaiming, “What’s that? Hallo! Who are you there!”

    It was a girl lying at full length on the ground at the bottom of the gully, evidently intending to hide herself from us in the bushes.

    “Who are you there?”

    “Sam’s Sall, sir.”

    “What are you skulking there for?”

    The girl half rose but gave no answer.


  5. CHAPTER 2 Terrorism and Civil War
    (pp. 57-96)

    And so the war came.

    Viewed from the chaos of combat, war is undiluted terror, and thus using the termterrorismto describe events of the American Civil War might appear redundant or even banal. But the framework within which this war was conceptualized—conventional military doctrine accepted by the professional officer corps of the day—sought to separate outlawry and terrorism from the practice of “civilized warfare,” ideally constructed as a fair fight among honorable soldiers. These limits of civilized warfare (a term generals and politicians often used for their own actions, at least) included the organization of uniformed...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Blood Redemption: The Counterrevolutionary White-Terrorist Destruction of Reconstruction
    (pp. 97-142)

    3:00 A.M., September 6, 1875, Clinton, Mississippi. Alzina Haffa and her husband, William, a white Republican activist, were startled from sleep by a mob of about seventy-five men on horseback who had surrounded their house. Several men then broke down their door and burst in. When Alzina screamed, “Murder! Murder!” so loudly she could be heard two miles away, one of the mob leaders, Mr. Mosley, who was the local sales agent of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, held a pistol to her head and then choked her, though not to death. Then the Haffas’ landlord, Sid Whitehead, and his...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Haymarket: Terrorism and Class Conflict
    (pp. 143-185)

    In the gathering gloom auguring a late-afternoon spring thunderstorm on May 4, 1886, at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, Samuel Fielden, a stone hauler and anarchist labor agitator, jumped down off the wagon from which he had been speaking. The dispirited crowd of ragged, mainly unemployed workingmen began to disperse, just as a phalanx of 176 policemen marched at double-quick time into the square. A few minutes earlier, Fielden had harangued his audience with strident revolutionary language delivered in his English working-class accent, “You have nothing more to do with the law except to lay hands on it and throttle...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Philippines War: Terrorism and Empire
    (pp. 186-231)

    At the end of the nineteenth century, when Americans ventured abroad they were prepared militarily and ideologically to subdue, with a clear eye and a strong arm, those they considered lesser peoples. Although the United States conquered a distant colony for the first time only in 1898, Americans were far from uninitiated in colonial warfare when they reached across the Pacific Ocean for new territory in the Philippines. For nearly three hundred years, ever since Europeans first began settling the vast North American continent, they had fought what amounted to a protracted colonial war against the Indians who had been...

  9. Coda
    (pp. 232-236)

    Taken together, these five case studies of terrorism in late-nineteenth-century America amount to a counternarrative of American national development, a story characterized by extreme political violence at crucial junctures. It is a history of domination rather than the progressive unfolding of democracy and freedom. These cases illustrate deep patterns, both ideological and behavioral: terrorism colored many of the powerful and contradictory qualities of American state formation during its most crucial phase.

    Although I have concentrated in this volume on the second half of the nineteenth century, the structures explored provide templates for understanding later terrorist interactions. As I am a...

  10. Note on Terms
    (pp. 237-244)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 245-264)
  12. Index
    (pp. 265-272)