Southern Nationalism before Southern Nationhood
Before1860, southern nationalists such as William L. Yancey, Robert Barnwell Rhett, and William Gilmore Simms forged a separatist movement that was based on the desire to preserve slavery. However, they expanded upon this simple material calculus to develop a broader argument for southern nationalism. Inspired by transatlantic thought, they made romantic appeals to a distinctive southern identity based on specificities of place and culture. Inspired by American ideals, they contended that only southern independence could rescue the true legacy of the American Revolution and purify the true spirit of American nationalism. The radicals shared an acute frustration at the South’s apparent victimization at the hands of an oppressive North.
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