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Cobb: Appomattox created the South

 James Cobb, Spalding Distinguished Professor of History, takes to the pages pixels of to discuss how “the end of the Civil War on April 9, 1865 was the beginning of the region’s identity":

Confederate leaders may have believed they had built a unified nation in 1861, when they framed a new government and sent their troops off to war with hearty assurances of a quick and glorious victory. Amid the centennial observance of those events, however, Robert Penn Warren suggested that this judgement would have been premature; a sense of common southern identity had not actually been “born” at the beginning of the Civil War, but at the end, on April 9, 1865, when “Lee handed Grant his sword” at Appomattox. Indeed, many early enlistees had vowed to fight only “in defense of Virginia” or “my home state,” and some even restricted their allegiances to “the loved ones who call upon me to defend their homes from pillage.”

The challenge of instilling South-wide loyalties loomed even more daunting because Confederate identity would have to be constructed on the fly. Delegates who gathered in Montgomery in early February 1861 managed to draw up the constitutional and governing framework of the Confederate States of America in only five weeks. Scarcely five weeks later, their brand new nation-state was plunged into a war that many of them had persuaded their constituents—and perhaps even themselves—would never come.

Read the whole thing. And kudos to Dr. Cobb for adding his esteemed voice to the remembrances of this anniversary in our nation's history.

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