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The Saints Are Marching On, and On, and On…

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The Saints Are Marching On, and On, and On…

By H. A. Scott Trask on Jul 31, 2018

A review of Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln’s Opponents in the North by Jennifer L. Weber (Oxford University Press, 2007).

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case it is worth much more: 217 pages of them. The text comes wrapped in a handsome dust jacket, colored black and gold and featuring an arresting editorial cartoon from the War. In it, a stern-visaged but comely maiden stands her ground, brandishing a sword in one hand and a shield emblazoned with the motto “UNION” in the other; a white star shines from her forehead, symbolizing divinity. She is menaced by three poisonous copperhead snakes, whose human heads—gaunt-faced, long-haired, and topped by a flat-brimmed hat—are drawn to look like the stereotypical Southerner.

There is tension and danger but also the implication of resolution: the goddess of liberty shall lop off the heads of the traitorous foe—Northerners who favor peace.

A study of the Northern Peace Democrats is long overdue. Unfortunately, what we have here is a nationalistic melodrama masquerading as a work of scholarship.

“The Copperheads lacked Lincoln’s understanding of the times,” and were deaf to his arguments, “powerful though they were.”  :snip:

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