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The Rivers Ran Backward – The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Rivers Ran Backward: The Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border

Christopher Phillips


Most Americans believe that the Ohio River was a clearly defined and static demographic and political boundary between freedom and slavery, indeed between North and South, an extension of the Mason-Dixon Line and a border that produced the war. None of this is true, except perhaps the outcome of war. But the centrality of the Civil War and its outcome in the making of these tropes is undeniable. This interpretation leaves no room for the third of the nation’s major nineteenth-century regions: the West. Ironically, the war’s central figure, Abraham Lincoln, was a lifelong resident of this regio ... More

Keywords: Civil War, slavery, regionalism, cultural politics, social violence, West, Midwest, Border South, emancipation, reconciliation

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780195187236
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187236.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Christopher Phillips, author
Professor of History, University of Cincinnati