Conference Archives

2006 Abstracts


Regina M. Faden, “Dual Perspectives: The Letters of A.R. Dyson”

“Dual Perspectives: The Letters of A.R. Dyson” examines the war-time letters of a Confederate soldier.  While the soldier’s experience during Civil War has been well studied, the Dyson letters offer an intriguing contrast between missives written by a soldier for “public consumption” by his friends and family and what he shared with a “comrade.”  Dyson wrote to his wife about his motivations, his wounds, his love and concern for her and their daughter, and his wish to return to her.  Despite the tremendous difficulties and dangers of soldiering, Dyson always finished his letters with words of hope and encouragement.  At the same time, he expressed himself more candidly to a female friend.  Dyson had met this friend, Amanda Robertson, when she served as his nurse.  Over years, he wrote her about the terrible conditions of his service.  Although Dyson never explains why he feels free to unburden himself to Robertson but not to his wife, it is likely he viewed her as a veteran of war like himself and therefore an understanding and sympathetic listener.  Their correspondence carried on until his death late in the war.  

Steven Cox, We Miss the Good We Sought: Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Civil War”

When listing nineteenth-century American writers associated with the Civil War, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stephen Crane, and Ambrose Bierce are the names that should immediately come to mind.  Another mid-nineteenth century writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), isn’t normally associated with the Civil War. Hawthorne returned to the states in the summer of 1860, after seven years in Europe.  When the war broke out, in April of 1861, Hawthorne’s letters reveal him to be excited about it, and almost wishing he could participate.  However, he soon became weary over the news and prolonged fighting.  In the spring of 1862 Hawthorne made a trip to see the war first hand, accompanied by his editor and publisher, William Ticknor.  He chronicled this journey in an essay he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly, titled “Chiefly About War Matters.” This essay was edited down from its original form, with some irreverent comments, particularly those about President Lincoln, whom Hawthorne met during this trip, omitted.  These omitted comments were eventually published in the early 1870s by the editor of the Atlantic Monthly.  In the essay, Hawthorne also played the part of a concerned, even disapproving, editor, calling for the need to temper certain remarks in the essay, and providing disclaimers.  Many readers, including Hawthorne’s friends and associates, were alarmed by this essay, and Hawthorne’s somewhat neutral, if not sympathetic, attitude to the South, and many thought the essay facetious, cynical, flippant, and a censorship hoax.  Hawthorne’s friendship with the unpopular ex-president Franklin Pierce, also concerned many during this time.  Hawthorne did not live to see the end of the Civil War, dying in the spring of 1864.

Crompton Burton, “’The Notes and Memories of Thousands’: The Second Civil War and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain”

In the grim years immediately following the American Civil War, veterans of the conflict actively sought to place some distance between themselves and the horrors of the combat that they had endured. However, as the nation began to emerge from the dark days of Reconstruction, attitudes toward the conflict began to shift and a torrent of publishing and commemoration swept the country in the 1880s and continued into the early years of the twentieth century. Memoirs, biographies, newspapers, and serial articles in popular periodicals of the day presented a ready venue for vigorous personal campaigns to capture or claim the memory of the conflict. This struggle or second Civil War featured such well-known participants as Ulysses S. Grant and James Longstreet. Motivated by considerations such as financial gain and the defense of reputation, they wrote extensively of their experiences and created an extended literature that continues to serve as a rich resource for historians seeking to chronicle the events of the conflict.

While a generation of scholars and students readily identifies Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as the hero of Little Round Top and winner of the Medal of Honor, his role in the struggle for the war’s memory is less well-known. Chamberlain’s post-war experience represents a not uncommon journey undertaken by a great many veterans and included a search for the reconciliation of their defining moments in the war with their more mundane political, professional and personal lives in later years. Their re-definition of themselves through contributions to the literature and lore of this second Civil War not only allows us a rare glimpse of these individuals as they saw themselves, but generates a worthwhile study of the lingering impact of war upon its survivors and the evolution of the history in which they played so conspicuous a part.     

Megan O'Byrne, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July: A Historical Communication Analysis”

As scholars study the history of the human race, one aspect of both humans and history is often overlooked, that is history via communication.  As mass media emerged in America during the 19th century, public address held on as a major form of mass communication.  Evaluating public address in this era takes an interesting turn away from simply criticism or historical consideration because it became common to reproduce speeches and distribute them to the masses via pamphlets or newspapers thereby increasing the size of the audience.   
Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, venerated orator, and political lobbyist of the 19th century is highly regarded as one of the best African-American orators and abolitionists of his era.  He worked tirelessly to extol the exigencies that plagued America as it was on the brink of civil war.  On July 5, 1852 he addressed his speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York.

This paper is an analysis of Douglass’ speech both from historical and communication perspectives.  Historically, the paper discusses the American climate on slavery, and the events in Douglass’ life to that point which brought him to deliver that specific speech at its specific historical place and time.  The communication analysis is developed using Ernest Bormann’s theory of fantasy theme analysis.  This theory is especially effective in evaluating the way in which Douglass used his words to develop a cohort or sense of community within his audience

Andrea Foroughi, “Father Abraham & Mammy Lincoln; Aunty Abe & Uncle Abe: Gender Embodied in Civil War Cartoons of Abraham Lincoln”

Published illustrations of Abraham Lincoln have long attracted both scholarly and public attention. Lincoln’s physical characteristics, political positions, and personal principles readily lent themselves to visual representation in Civil War print media, especially in the illustrations and cartoons in illustrated periodicals. Much work has been done on collecting, organizing, and interpreting these images. Harold Holzer, a leading figure in analyzing Civil War prints and cartoons, includes in his recent book, Lincoln Seen and Heard (2000), essays examining visual representations of Lincoln through several lenses – as a “father, martyr, and myth”, commander-in-chief, “lean-sided Yankee”, and Jefferson Davis’ “mirror image.” Most recently, Gary Bunker categorizes depictions of Lincoln thematically in his From Rail-Splitter to Icon: Lincoln’s Image in Illustrated Periodicals, 1860-1865 (2001); these themes include the frontier image, the joker image, the image of integrity, the leadership image, the physical image, and the image that justified national confidence. Both Bunker and Holzer have compiled a significant body of Lincoln illustrations, prints, and cartoons, as well as offered valuable observations for decoding these multi-layered visual sources.

Intrinsic to, but not discussed in, these analyses is gender. The roles ascribed to Lincoln in illustrations from 1860-1865 invoke cultural expectations about masculinity and femininity, strength and weakness, decisiveness and cowardice in mid-nineteenth-century America. Representations of Jefferson Davis in petticoats, bonnet, and shawl at his capture in May 1865 have undergone insightful scholarly analysis in terms of gender from Nina Silber, for example, as part of an extensive and nuanced literature on gender in the Confederate South. However, little attention has been paid to gendered representations of Davis’ Union counterpart. This paper takes a look – literally – at the ways in which images of Lincoln drew upon and depicted gendered characteristics and roles to exaggerate or highlight their political messages.

David Bulla, “'Freely and Fearlessly': The 1863 New York Editors’ Resolutions”

At the mid point of the Civil War, sixteen editors met at the Astor House Hotel in New York to draft the  resolutions that opposed, heavy-handed treatment against journalists by the federal government and the military. The editors, led by New York Tribune’s Horace Greeley, agree that the government had no power to suppress or intimadate news papers and they upheld the right of the journalists “to criticize freely and fearlessly” Government officials to make them more accountable as leaders of the nation’s political apparatus. Indeed  they asserted the rights of journalist in wartime to persuade citizens to vote for other candidates if elected officials were not efficiently carrying out their public services. Historically, This was a central statement of the U.S. press freedom precisely because the country was involved in civil war, one that would determine the future course of the republic. Although the New York Herald and Times did not send representatives to the June 1863 editors’ conference, the fact that the vast majority of dailies in the city with the most daily newspapers in the country were present suggested a unified profession especially since editors of every political stripe were represented.

Wallace E. Eberhard, “Editors in Uniform: The Historiography of Civil War Soldier Newspapers”

This research paper examined the historiography of the Civil War soldier newspapers. A number of authors have stated their belief that this is an area of the Civil War media history that has not been explored, but the literature is limited.

That literature was reviewed with an aim to appraising this genre of journalism, developing a check list of soldier newspapers, evaluating methodological problems and suggesting avenues for further research.
No books or full treatises were uncovered in this field. Articles from the mid- Twentieth Century gave a broad overview of these newspapers without a systematic analysis. Their findings explored the reasons why these newspapers emerged during wartime and the purposes they served. The content was varied and insightful as to military life and opinions on the war itself.

Two more recent (1993 and 2002) works presented, respectively, an authoritative overview of the Civil War soldier newspaper and the use of these newspapers as a reflector of soldier opinion about the war, over the four years it was fought.

A check list of 175 titles was developed from various sources, and suggestions for further work presented.

Wendy E. Swanberg,Ex Parte McCardle and the First Amendment During Reconstruction”

In Autumn of 1867, at the peak of post Civil War Reconstruction, Mississippi newspaper editor William McMcardle was arrested and imprisoned by military commander for writing editorials critical of the government. McCardle fought his arrest on constitutional grounds, alleging (among other things) violations of his rights of free speech and press. Eventually he was granted a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court on a habeas corpus petition, but before the court could rule on the case a sharply partisan Congress removed the courts Jurisdiction—under a seldom-used provision of the Constitution itself. Ex Parte McCardle became a land mark case because of  its implications for the balance of government powers, but it was also one of the ealiest First Amendment cases to reach the Supreme Court. This essay will examine the ways in which law, politics, and journalism intersected in Ex Parte McCardle, and will suggest certain parallels to present day circumstances. Further, it will sugest that a libertarian concept of speech freedom had begun to germinate within the supreme court during Reconstruction, well before that concept’s accepted genesis in World War I era.

Janice Wood, “Doctors, Sex, and Obscenity: Moving Stories from a ‘Forgotten’ Health Monthly, 1876-1896”

Dr. Foote’s Health Monthly holds a rich history in 19th Century medicine, sex related issues, and politics over obscenity and free expression. Born out of an editor’s prosecution for violating the Comstock laws on obscenity, the Health Monthly endured controversial moves out of the country and back but died never making money only to reach obscurity today. The periodical was edited by two doctors Foote, known for producing top-selling home health care books and promoting birth control. Located today in only six U.S. libraries related to medical schools, the Health Monthly has been neglected in major directories of American periodicals.

This paper is primarily descriptive but also questions: How is a remote Victorian- Age periodical relevant today? The answer lies in the publication’s unique insights into free speech’s “forgotten years” the under-researched period surrounding Comstock prosecutions and the little-known resistance movement mounted by National Defense Association for which Health Monthly served as an unofficial newsletter.

Catharin Shepard, “Henry Berry Lowry and the Scuffletown Outlaws: Mythological Archetypes in Newspaper Portrayals from 1870 to 1922”

The closing days of the American Civil War brought massive political, social, and economic upheaval to the war-wearied South. Among those carried along by the flows of conflict were the people of southeastern North Carolina, and few were more deeply affected by the changes wrought by the war than the Lumbee Native American tribe. It was a time of bloodshed and tragedy, oppression and starvation for much of the South. Racial tensions threw more fuel on an already over-stoked fire, and in Robeson County, in southeastern North Carolina, relations remained extremely unsettled between Caucasians and Native Americans. The Civil War “forced a confrontation between the whites and Lumbees concerning the status of the Indian people.” In 1865, a young Lumbee man named Henry Berry Lowry embarked on a campaign of guerrilla warfare against the men responsible for the deaths of his father and older brother and unhesitatingly attacked any force sent to capture or kill him. His actions galvanized the community and earned the hatred and admiration of many before he eventually became renowned as a folk hero and legend. The purpose of this study is to determine if Lowry and his band were portrayed within the media as mythological figures, and if so, whether that portrayal changed over time.