Roundtable Belief and Morality, Spirituality, and Songs of War and Conquest

AHA Session 151
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room 208 (Hynes Convention Center)
Orville Vernon Burton, Coastal Carolina University
Sponsored by the AHA Working Group on Religion, Peace, and Violence
Orville Vernon Burton, Coastal Carolina University

Session Abstract

This panel presents three papers by independent school educators that analyze debates over aspects of religion, morality, and spirituality of the period of the American Civil War. In his discussion of images of the Andersonville Prison, Kent McConnell of the Phillips Exeter Academy argues that, “memories of Civil War prisons could present troubling ideas about why God might permit the enemy to unjustly persecute or torture defenseless soldiers to the point of death.” The surviving images of the prison demonstrate that “the death and suffering at Andersonville was not easily tamed by the prevailing nationalist myth that emerged around the Civil War.”

In his discussion on Abraham Lincoln’s public and private spirituality, Richard Schubart of the Phillips Exeter Academy will “re-examine the historical debate and analyze the evolution of Lincoln’s religious expression in both personal and public terms from his early years on the frontier to his presidential leadership during the civil war years. From 1861 to 1865 there is a noticeable shift in Lincoln’s faith based language in direct reference to the amount of death and destruction that accompanied the onslaught of Civil War.”

Barbara L. Tischler, who teaches at the Horace Mann School, will discuss images of religion and spirituality in songs of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Her analysis will include cover images and lyrics of battlefield songs, ballads recalling loved ones at home, and songs relating to the bravery of African-American soldiers and the fate of freed slaves.

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