White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America - Chapter 7: Cowards, Poltroons, and Mudsills: Civil War as Class Warfare Summary & Analysis

Nancy Isenberg
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Summary

As the South seceded from the Union, the idea of an American breed was crucial in Confederate rhetoric. The southern gentlemen class aspired to the American – and southern – ideal that its men were comprised of the blood, pedigree, and valor of the founding fathers. On the contrary, Union soldiers represented something much different; they were “vagabond stock and swamp people” (235). Isenberg argues this rhetoric was used to unite the Confederacy while simultaneously dehumanizing Union soldiers.

The Confederates’ goal was to convince their people they were fighting to preserve a truly American identity that northerners had corrupted. Confederate leaders were aware of the economic tensions between the more diverse border states and the plantation dominated southern states, thus they worked to devise a rhetoric that could mask these deep divisions. Claims to homogeneity in the South...

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This section contains 1,063 words
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Buy the White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America Study Guide
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