A secret society history of the Civil War / Mark A. Lause.

By: Lause, Mark AMaterial type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooksPublisher: Urbana : University of Illinois Press, ©2011Description: 1 online resource (xiii, 209 pages) : illustrationsContent type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780252093593 (electronic bk.); 0252093593 (electronic bk.)Subject(s): Secret societies -- United States -- History -- 19th century | Secret societies -- Influence -- History -- 19th century | Government, Resistance to -- United States -- History -- 19th century | United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Societies, etc | United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Underground movements | United States -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865Additional physical formats: Print version:: Secret society history of the Civil War.DDC classification: 973.7 LOC classification: E458.8 | .L38 2011Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
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Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
E458.8 .L38 2011 (Browse shelf) https://ezproxy.uttyler.edu/login?url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcrc7 Available ocn809032434

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Description based on print version record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Lause (history, Univ. of Cincinnati) aims to present a scholarly account of the role played by secret societies leading up to and during the Civil War. Tracing American secret societies from their European origins through the latter stages of the war, he concludes that those societies with the most notoriety, such as the Knights of the Golden Circle, were actually less influential than lesser-known organizations such as secret black abolitionist groups, developed with their own private rituals and trappings and distinct from the regular underground abolitionist movement. VERDICT This book will appeal more to those interested in the history of secret societies and activist groups than to readers wanting to learn about the Civil War; the conflict itself is barely mentioned.-M.F. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Clandestine organizations serve two purposes: allowing activists to work with like-minded people to pursue an agenda outside ordinary channels, and permitting frustrated people a conspiratorial explanation for the existence of conditions they find unpleasant and unsettling. In the Civil War era, clandestine groups, often based on the structures and rituals of the Masonic order and modeled after liberal and nationalistic reform organizations in Europe, operated within the US. George Lippard's Brotherhood of the Union and similar groups catalyzed nationalistic, expansionist, and labor movements in the antebellum era, especially in the free states, while African American clandestine groups worked for abolitionism, especially through Prince Hall Lodges. These movements helped shatter the second party system by radicalizing antebellum political discourse. But bogus movements often overshadowed real clandestine organizations. George Bickley's Knights of the Golden Circle (KGC) articulated the rhetoric of extreme Southern proslavery expansion, but existed largely in the imagination of Bickley. Lause (Univ. of Cincinnati) suggests that KGC's persistence in memory stems from the acceptability of the slave power conspiracy, while the substantial but controversial reform agendas of other secret groups found no place in the homogenizing narrative of postbellum nationalism. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. E. R. Crowther Adams State College

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Mark A. Lause is a professor of American history at the University of Cincinnati and the author of numerous books, including Price's Lost Campaign: The 1864 Invasion of Missouri, Race and Radicalism in the Union Army, The Antebellum Crisis and America's First Bohemians, and Young America: Land, Labor, and the Republican Community.

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