‘The First Grand War of Contemporaneous History’: The American Civil War in Global Context. (2007)

Author(s): Grant, SM

    Abstract: Although the American Civil War remained within the boundaries of one nation—or two, depending on one’s perspective—the international reaction to, if not yet the global repercussions of the conflict have exercised Civil War historians to a quite considerable degree, perhaps more, indeed, than other aspects of the war have done. In theory, this historiography should now be, by the very nature of the subject, a diffuse one, covering the social, economic, political and military histories of many countries: in reality, however, it rarely gets far from the coast of Britain or, more rarely, that of France, with the occasional detour into Ireland or Mexico. Further, although the substantial historiography has been bolstered by several valuable document and correspondence collections and contemporary accounts, it has so far failed to cohere into any single, definitive study of the Civil War’s impact on the world. In part this is because there are not one but several historiographies that encompass the Civil War in all its complexity, at home and abroad, and rarely do they communicate: the diplomatic, economic, social, and military aspects of the war have, until quite recently, often been treated distinctly. There is, in addition, a far broader historiography on the war’s impact after 1865, one glimpsed, if only briefly, in the many studies focused on the 1861-1865 period. Some of the most challenging and productive recent research has sought to bring the different elements of the scholarship together, particularly in the area of military history and, most recently, nationalism studies, and it is in the latter, especially, that a fresh synthesis may, in time, be found.

      • Journal: Scottish Association for Teachers of History Handbook
      • Issue: June 2007
      • Pages: 16-24
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

        Professor Susan-Mary Grant
        Prof of American History