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A nation reborn?: the United States, nationalism and the war against Spain
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 13:38 authored by Peter Seaman
This thesis assesses the context and construction of American nationalism in the period of the Spanish-American War of 1898, and how this served efforts to overcome sectionalism. Nationalism remains a complex issue, especially when America’s Civil War is considered. Following this, the former Confederacy remained isolated within national discourse. Despite re-admission to the Union, Southern interactions with the North continued to reflect hostility and scepticism. The post-bellum US showed Civil War fault lines. It was a nation shaped by regionalist identities. These were characterised by differing social, cultural and political frameworks and ideologies. This work draws upon numerous extant sources to study nationalism in this context. It outlines its complexities, and the period’s regionalist framework. War in 1898 enabled Americans to conceive those from other regions as fellow nationalists. This became a theme in political orations, mass media and popular culture. It enabled national re-imagining. This thesis assesses the character and outcomes of attempts at sectional re-unification, which gained widespread support. This work finds that though ultimate success was mixed, reunification was a key theme of American nationalism in the context of the Spanish-American War. Yet, nationalism and reconciliation remained exclusionary. This marked not only an evolution in national policies, but also a dramatic change in American self-conception.