NEWEST BORN OF NATIONS
European Nationalist Movements and the Making of the Confederacy
From the earliest stirrings of southern nationalism to the defeat of the Confederacy, analysis of European nationalist movements played a critical role in how southerners thought about their new southern nation. Southerners argued that because the Confederate nation was cast in the same mold as its European counterparts, it deserved independence. In Newest Born of Nations, Ann Tucker reveals how elite white southerners developed international perspectives on nationhood that helped them clarify their own national values, conceive of the South as distinct from the North, and ultimately define and legitimize the Confederacy.
While popular at home, claims to equivalency with European nations failed to resonate with Europeans and northerners, who viewed slavery as incompatible with the ideas of liberty and self-government that fueled nationalist movements abroad. Forced to reevaluate their claims about the international place of southern nationalism, some southerners redoubled their attempts to place the Confederacy within the broader trends of nineteenth-century nationalism. More conservative southerners took a different tack, emphasizing the distinctiveness of their nationalism, claiming that the Confederacy actually purified nationalism through slavery. Southern Unionists likewise internationalized their case for national unity, claiming that examples of destroyed nations abroad taught the necessity of national unity. By examining the evolution of and variation within these international perspectives, Tucker reveals that international perspectives played a key role in shaping southern nationalism.
Praise for Newest Born of Nations
"Ann Tucker’s work offers the most complete and thorough analysis to date of the global dimensions of southern nationalist thought. Most importantly, she carefully demonstrates how white southerners crafted both liberal and conservative understandings of their own nationhood, demonstrating that the creation of Confederate nationalism was a much longer, more dynamic, and more vigorously contested process than previously thought."
-Andre M. Fleche, Castleton State College, author of The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict
"With elegant prose and deep research, Ann Tucker reminds us that the Confederacy was not an aberration but rather one of many new nineteenth-century nations, with powerful implications for our underestanding of the Civil War era as a whole."
-Anne Sarah Rubin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, author of Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman's March and American Memory
Caleb W. Southern, review of Newest Born of Nations: European Nationalist Movements and the Making of the Confederacy, by Ann L. Tucker, Civil War Monitor, August 2020.