Friday, April 15, 2011

Review----Indiana's Civil War: From Front Lines to Home Front

Indiana's War: The Civil War in Documents, Richard F. Nation, Stephen E. Towne, eds. Ohio University Press, 2009. xx + 252 pp. $18.65 (paper).

Indiana's War in Documents A Review by A. James Fuller (University of Indianapolis),Published on H-CivWar, April, 2011.

Indiana’s War offers an excellent collection of primary source documents that will prove useful to scholars and students of the Civil War and midwestern history. Published as a volume in the Ohio University Press series, The Civil War in the Great Interior, the book is edited by Eastern Michigan University history professor Richard F. Nation and Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, archivist Stephen E. Towne, two established authorities on the nineteenth-century Midwest and Indiana in particular. Emphasizing race and politics, the book provides a wide range of documents that reflect current trends in historical research by including a diverse number of authors--rich and poor, well known and obscure, male and female, black and white--and covering topics ranging from the front lines to the home front, from southern Indiana to the northern part of the state, from state politics to slavery, from patriotism to treason. The editors provide brief, but interpretive introductions to the book as a whole and each chapter, along with a chronology and a section of discussion questions, which all combine to make this a powerful teaching tool for use in the college classroom.

The editors’ introduction sets up the interpretive framework of the book in its first sentence: “The two main issues that drove the Civil War--slavery and the right of a people to determine their own institutions--had animated politics in Indiana from its territorial slavery” (p. 1). Arguing that race and slavery played an essential role in early Indiana politics, despite the midwestern state being a free state that had been part of the Northwest Territory that forbade slavery from its beginning, Nation and Towne reflect the trends of the last several decades that have seen a return to seeing slavery as the dominant theme in studies of Civil War causation. Noting that Indiana had a large Southern influence due to early settlement patterns (the state was settled from south to north, with most of the first settlers coming from Virginia via Kentucky), the editors also point out the pervasive racism of white Hoosiers. While most of the state’s white citizens were antislavery in their sentiments, they had mixed reasons for that view.

For Full Text of Review Go To : H-Net Reviews

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