Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Spring 2004

Abstract

In 1866, Harper's Weekly announced a new series of woodcuts of Southern life with the remark, "[t]o us the late Slave States seem almost like a newly discovered country." It is difficult for Americans in the Twenty-First Century, in a culture of cable news coverage and national newspapers, to appreciate just how mysterious the former Confederacy seemed to Northerners in the months after Appomattox. It was not simply that four years of war had made communication between the two halves of the nation difficult - though that was true, and both Northern and Southern society had changed during the searing years of war in ways that people in the other region could hardly imagine. More important was the brute historical fact that there had not been a nation before 1861. The North and South had always been separate societies, socially incompatible, culturally different, and mutually incomprehensible. Now, for the first time, the two halves were to become part of one whole, and Northerners found themselves wondering what their new countrymen were like, and how they planned to behave in the new nation forged by war.

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