Public Program - Matthew Mason
“Apostle of Union: Edward Everett, Memory, and Saving the Founders’ Union”
During a public career that stretched from the 1810s through 1865, Massachusetts statesman and orator Edward Everett devoted much of his energy to tying his nation together by Americans’ heartstrings. He was in no way subtle about his stated desire to appeal to fellow citizens’ emotions through a vital connection to a shared national history. In public speeches and writings and work behind the scenes to erect monuments, Everett strove to convince a polarizing United States to rally around commemoration of heroes and events, especially from the American Revolution. His work in the late 1850s to save Mount Vernon as a shrine for Union became a national cultural phenomenon, but it was a culmination of Everett’s long-term efforts in this vein. Attending to this part of Everett’s career and the impact it had helps us understand the nature, strength, and weaknesses of Unionism in the decades before and including the Civil War.
Matthew E. Mason is an associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, where he teaches a variety of courses on the history of slavery, early America, and Britain. He has published articles in a variety of journals of national and international reach. He has written and co-edited books, including Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic (University of North Carolina Press, 2006); The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson (Broadview Press, 2009) and Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation (University of Virginia Press, 2011).