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The Rivers Ran BackwardThe Civil War and the Remaking of the American Middle Border$
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Christopher Phillips

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780195187236

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187236.001.0001

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Southern Cross, North Star

Southern Cross, North Star

The Politics of Irreconciliation

(p.291) 8 Southern Cross, North Star
The Rivers Ran Backward

Christopher Phillips

Oxford University Press

The middle border’s postwar political struggles and development of exclusivist war memories and meanings ended the region’s former white consensus. The willingness of white residents to resort to violence in the postwar period provided one measure of difference between former loyal states. However deep and shared their war wounds, they were felt discretely as white residents translated war experiences into distinct postwar understandings. Postemancipation racial discourse and violence contributed to white residents’ conscious distortion, even inversion, of these states’ war narratives so as to align them along the emergent North-South binary. The abstruse politics of white sacrifice, formal and especially informal, offered distinct lenses that obstructed reconciliation across what were seen as discrete regional cultures. The cultural politics of war memory and regional white identity divided these middle border states from one another too deeply for white supremacy to reunite them by any symbolic reconciliation.

Keywords:   irreconciliation, Reconstruction, Lost Cause, racial violence, war commemoration, veterans’ organizations, Liberal Republicans, New Departure, New South, lynching

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