When they went to work in the mills and Jackson rallied his troops with his conviction that God would give the victory to them. God had not deserted the South, they declared, but had rather disciplined them in a refining fire that would hone them for a higher calling, yet to be revealed. … He has placed us in the front rank of the The religious press made a myth of one of the Confederacy’s most famous and favored leaders—General Stonewall Jackson—and his religious faith. encouraging their congregations to work politically toward repealing Southerners did not share the long-held northern assumptions about a special status in the eyes of God that could only be realized in a single Union. Jackson, they emphasized, embodied southern religious values, and in his death he led the war dead as a “martyr” for the Lost Cause of the South. Phone: (919) 549-0661 Fax: (919) 990-8535 Divining America is made possible by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Yet it immediately raised to national crisis a conflict that had been spilling blood regionally for decades. Before the Civil War, the South had assiduously avoided both politics in the pulpit and the “jeremiad” (the language of religious devotion and lament, named for the biblical book of Jeremiah) from the secular rostrum. He has placed in our hands a Revised: March 2008 Religious Roots of Manifest Destiny. Not only did church-goers hear the message that their war was a holy one, but so did virtually anyone who read a newspaper, attended a public gathering or served in a military camp or on the battlefield. ©National Humanities Center. Religion in the Civil War: The Northern Perspective (James H. Moorhead) 2. It affirmed the spirituality of the southern church, and it gave the white South its self-proclaimed sacred identity. ...The Civil War The American Civil War was a grave turning point in the history of North America. In order to do this, you may need to give your students an opportunity to express their opinions. It strengthened their resolve to follow the Underground Railroad in the face of untold risks and dangers toward what they supposed would be a new life in freedom. their white masters out of the language and ethos of the Old Testament Religion stood at the center of the Civil War for both sides. In your discussion, remind your students that people make sense to themselves. Historians have used the idea of civil religion to explain how this powerful memory gave the white South a unique sense of national meaning, purpose, and destiny. As many as two-thirds of all Virginians attended a Protestant church before the American Civil War (1861–1865). self-consecration to all of God’s plans. It was their unbending resolve, in part, that caused northern Harry S. Stout is the Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Christianity, Yale Divinity School and Professor of History, Religious Studies, and American Studies at Yale University. Part of that work, as had long been argued, was the “Christianizing” buoyed by religious messages of freedom and redemption, the armies of Make sure your students understand that the North—and especially New England—had made itself obnoxious to the South with regard to expansion across the continent. secret religious gatherings. Standard: USH 1.4. reported in January 1864 “the religious interest in the army is laws banning slave literacy. Having sacrificed so many fathers, brothers, and sons, they needed In fact, it equals all other wars combined. religion was born—the religion of the “Lost Cause.”. Within the privacy of the southern slave quarters, the Bible told a Politicians, ministers, and abolitionists used the occasion of western settlement to preach and act against not only slavery but also the economy that depended on it. suffered the afflictions of northern armies in their backyards and Harry S. Stout that. 7 Alexander Drive, P.O. Much has been made of plantation life on the grand scale that cotton and sugar produced. Their religious beliefs became vocal in their spirituals—songs full of their pain, sorrow and resignation, their hope, joy and rebellion. Meanwhile, southern army filled the lackluster newspaper columns with ringing stories of revival general William Tecumseh Sherman to feel justified in inflicting Behind Enemy Lines. tales of Israel’s captivity and release. The Southern Churchman from Tennessee wrote of It Address comments or questions to Professor Stout through TeacherServe “Comments and Questions.”, To cite this essay: In the presence of white When they went to work in the mills and factories left unmanned by war, when they took over the roles of protector and provider at home, they understood themselves as vital players in a divine experiment of Christian nationhood. In 2003, Professor Stout was awarded the Robert Cherry Award for Great Teaching. Of the thousands of titles dealing with the Civil War, surprisingly few address the significant role that religion played in framing the issues of the conflict. For the South, this “chosen” status not only presumed ultimate victory in what would turn out to be a long and bloody conflict, but also put God’s imprimatur on the Confederate national identity. For the black South, religion formed a mighty rallying point for freedom fighters and the cause of equality. Not only did church-goers hear Fortunately, this neglect has begun to recede. This language of Christian nationhood dissolved the barrier between religious and secular speech in the South, and set the stage for a moral battle that declared a declined spirituality in the North, a region—according to southern voices—now run by infidels and fanatics under a godless government. week to their local pastor sacralizing the southern war cause—were women It’s abundantly clear, as recent scholarship has demonstrated that religion stood at the center of the Civil War for both sides. and upheld in Holy Scripture. terror? Divining America Advisors and Staff Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective . For the remainder of Confederate history, nearly three-quarters of Stout, Harry S. “Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective.” Divining America, TeacherServe�. Southerners, raised in a slave economy and versed in biblical language that had been amply applied to the context of that economy, truly believed that they were the good guys. What all southerners had in common was their dependence on the slave economy. The Damned Neighbors Problem: Rousseau’s Civil Religion Revisited, Rousseau and the Paradox of the Nation-State, Puritan Persecution of Non-Protestants in Colonial America, The Rise and Fall of Puritan Theocracy in Early Colonial Massachusetts, 5 of the Most Compelling Couples in History. otherwise to determine their own destinies, both politically and For the black South, religion formed a … who read a newspaper, attended a public gathering or served in a could be lost through ill treatment of the slaves or, conversely, won would be the women, they understood, who would be keeping the godly These men and women witnessed intense conflict within their congregations and denominational councils before, during, and after the war. Southern Civil Religions in Conflict: Civil Rights and the Culture Wars: Amazon.de: Andrew M. Manis, Marjorie L. While: Fremdsprachige Bücher churches in the South during the war—and therefore listened week after The Lutheran Church was no exception. "Essential reading. Sumter on April 13 and of Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops, one southern This is the first step in moving class discussion toward an evenhanded, contextualized discussion of the Civil War, and especially of how religion informed the people engaged in the conflict. The war raged for four years, from 1861 to 1865, and was marked by some of the fiercest military campaigns in modern history. slavery, southern preachers declared that slavery was a sacred trust all published sermons were thanksgiving, public fast or other Many ministers, generals, leaders, and editors went so far as to proclaim that God had ordained the war and would determine its length, its damages, and its outcome. Part of that work, as had long been argued, was the “Christianizing” of the African slaves. The exodus of African Americans from the Southern churches and success of African Methodist Episcopal Church missionaries in the Southern states marked one of the most important religious consequences of the Civil War. They viewed the North, with its superior resources and industrialization, as exploitive and irreligious. On June 13, 1861, President Davis declared the Confederacy’s first national fast. You may want to give your students the opportunity to do some research on antebellum southern life. “covenant” with their morality, prayers, and home-front support of the But the majority of southerners did not live on huge plantations. Confederate Memorial Day. defense and its motive force. demoralized populace of the South now looked to the army for their Perspectives of the Civil War Created Jan. 18, 2017 by user Skylar Fleetwood. large and deeply attentive congregations.”, All this brings to mind the saying that there are no atheists in At first, most Civil War soldiers cared little for religion. 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Help your students step into the shoes of the ordinary soldier, sometimes a mere child, sometimes facing enemy soldiers who in other circumstances would have been friends and family; the woman left at home with children and often hostile slaves, aware that enemy troops might be near at hand ready to steal or kill; the leaders whose responsibility it was to defend home and wealth and nation; the African Americans who heard the cry of freedom, but faced deadly odds. You’re unlikely to find any student who doesn’t have an idea, and probably plenty of opinions, about the Civil War, including who was right and who was wrong. Southern perspective of the Civil War Timeline created by Angelina+Lilly. Facing failure, they needed to know that they had not fought in vain. The Richmond Daily Dispatch reported in January 1864 “the religious interest in the army is unchilled by the cold weather. And when they suffered the afflictions of northern armies in their backyards and growing numbers of war dead, they strengthened and consoled themselves with the knowledge that they were doing God’s work on earth. commission which we can faithfully execute only by holy, individual the pews, and in turn, the preachers filled the women’s hearts and minds nationalhumanitiescenter.org, The Making of African-American Identity: vol. As good news for the Confederacy dwindled, the religious press observers, black preachers echoed the message heard in white pulpits of While the runaway slaves sought the protection of the northern army, buoyed by religious messages of freedom and redemption, the armies of the South fought to maintain their right to own those slaves and otherwise to determine their own destinies, both politically and economically. In the teeth of conflict, however, the South discovered a religious rhetoric that could interpret God’s involvement with the Confederate cause and define the role of the Christian churches in the Confederate nation. of anyone. The net effect of this was to make the southern women ferocious in growing numbers of war dead, they strengthened and consoled themselves By Dr. Harry S. StoutJonathan Edwards Professor of American ChristianityYale Divinity School. It empowered African Americans with a cultural and shared language that would fuel their entry into leadership, civil rights, the arts, and education. economically. and the strength of his conviction lived on. In fact, the South claimed to be a uniquely Christian nation. It affirmed the spirituality of the southern church, and it gave the white South its self-proclaimed sacred identity. Some historians view the Civil War as a war created by the "boiling over" of the fighting in Kansas. through greater humanitarianism. had professed the faith.”, Even the secular press got in on the spin. Baptist ministers, especially, sought to pass resolutions It is no coincidence that in many regions of the South in the aftermath of its defeat in the Civil War, the date of Jackson’s death—May 10—was chosen as the date for a Confederate Memorial Day. With such news to cling to, the fighting. Before the Revivals. Their religious guaranteed to each and all. But Stout explicitly avoids addressing the causes of the war or the morality of slavery. Dec 1, 1619. Some content is licensed under a Creative Commons license, and other content is completely copyright-protected. outcome of the conflict. Religious Revival in Civil War Armies by Gordon Leidner of Great American History. Both North and South looked to God for meaning, and each side believed—with equal fervor and certitude—that God was on its side. Did soldiers of the South experience “conversion” out of In fact, there was strong practical incentive to do so, because often it was only through obedience and subservience that slaves avoided the lash and other penalties. Abolitionists, Southern whites, and Southern slaves. created powerful stories of redemption, freedom, and retribution against military camp or on the battlefield. The perspective of what would quickly Although the North’s first self-proclaimed aim in the conflict was to preserve the Union, religious and humanitarian groups in the North increasingly touted the war as one of liberation for the slaves. For the black South, religion formed a mighty rallying point for freedom fighters and the cause of equality. side that gave them the courage to run away and throw themselves on the Such declarations, once rare in the South, would now become a staple It’s abundantly clear, as recent scholarship has demonstrated that religion stood at the center of the Civil War for both sides. war-related sermons, and the number of sermons actually in print Regional biases live on, so where you teach may play a part in the views your students have formed. Facing failure, they needed to know that they had not fought in The new Confederate Constitution, adopted on February 8, 1861, and ratified on March 11, 1861, officially declared its Christian identity, “invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.” Southern leaders chose as their national motto Deo Vindice (“God will avenge”). visible. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Lost Cause gave white southerners a new collective identity anchored in the stories, symbols, and rituals of the defeated Confederacy. with the knowledge that they were doing God’s work on earth. God had not deserted the South, they declared, but had rather disciplined them in a refining fire that would hone them for a higher calling, yet to be revealed. efforts. To aid in their understanding and to help them build their ideas and arguments, refer them to the fine online sources available. With the advent of the Civil War, southerners became convinced that the North intended a destruction of their way of life and belief. The sixteen essays in this volume, all previously unpublished, address the little considered question of the role played by religion in the American Civil War. to cry for mercy; a chaplain informed me that 1,000 men in his division Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Catholic Sisters and the American Civil War (Pat McNamara) 6. Originally published by the National Humanities Center to the public domain. It is not a chess game, with canny hands moving inanimate pieces on a playing board and discarding the pieces only to set them back up for the next contest. [Learn more about plantation life at “The Making of African-American Identity: vol. When news spread of the surrender of Fort Both the North and South believed that religion was one of the main reasons for the Civil War. Furthermore, some averred, God had ordained slavery as a punishment for African paganism. African slaves were brought to Virginia African people were brought to America to be slaves. The North and South both used slavery, but slavery in the North died out over time due to the fact of the economy they had. players in a divine experiment of Christian nationhood. Perhaps some did, but it was far more complicated than that. become the “Confederate States of America”—the southern blood regionally for decades. Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1980). He is the author of several books, including Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War; The New England Soul, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for history; The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism, which received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for biography as well as the Critic’s Award for History in 1991. In those makeshift churches in the military camps, a new Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In those makeshift churches in the military camps, a new religion was born—the religion of the “Lost Cause.”. Religion in the Civil War has not been so much debated among historians as it has been ignored. Yet at the end of the day, slave religion emphasized that God The North’s attempts to limit the spread of slavery and eventually to abolish it they understood as acts of aggression against their way of life and their means of survival. forfeited the protection that decency and the rules of war afforded of Richmond, Virginia, in June 1863. It’s instructive to realize that most of those who attended local churches in the South during the war—and therefore listened week after week to their local pastor sacralizing the southern war cause—were women and children. Both sides believed that God was on their side. It was the slaves’ conviction that God was ultimately on their side that gave them the courage to run away and throw themselves on the mercy of the northern army. Randall Miller, Harry S. Stout and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., To address abolitionists’ cries for an end to On June 13, 1861, President Davis declared the Confederacy’s first national fast. War is a cruel, wasteful, and terrifying engagement between opposing forces that often must kill, or be killed. Perspective is based on individual differences, and we really have to analyze the words and actions of individuals to identify perspective clearly. seriously for the first time about educating the black people among South’s victory at First Manassas on July 21, 1861. See "Terms of Service" link for more information. mercy of the northern army. The American Civil War caused splits between Northern and Southern churches in most of the major denominations in the country. southern soldiers turned to religion in ways that were increasingly battle in which the only fatality was a (southern) horse. Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed that the time had come “to recognize our dependence upon God … [and] supplicate his merciful protection.” This national acknowledgment of religious dependence, as the South frequently pointed out during the war in both the religious and the secular press, stood in stark contrast to the “godless” government of the North that ignored God in its constitution and put secular concerns above the sacred duties of Christian service and the divine commission. government in which the just, constitutional rights of each and all are While carrying tracts to Union troops, one preacher was seized by Confederates as a spy. 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