Northern Visions of Reform at War's End

This page will be available by January 1, 2007. Until then, please take advantage of the other pages on the NORTHERN VISIONS website.

The articles below are intended as a sample of the types of resources you will soon be able to find in this section.


"A Little Jaded"

The lively national mind is dwelling upon the Chinese rather than the negro at present, and, if the whole truth must be told, is doubtless a little jaded by the thought of a race with which it was really occupied a long time, — for such a very lively national mind. At the best it is a good deal like a woman's mind: a thing pleases and interests again and again, and there is no reason to believe that it will not do so forever: repeat it yet once more, and presto! it is of all things the most disgusting, and was always, always hated. This fatal pass has been almost attained with the negro and we should not therefore venture to commend Colonel Higginson’s book if it were a celebration of the negro in any of his familiar aspects of martyr or hero, or his present “transition state” of bore, however we might praise it as excellent and charming literature.

--A Review of Higginson's Army Life in a Black Regiment, The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1869, 643-644


"Thanksgiving Day--Hanging Up the Musket," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 23, 1865, 216.

Never before, since we have had a record of great nations, has one year made so great a difference in their status of happiness as that of the past twelve months in the welfare, prosperity and cause of thankfulness of this country. One year ago we were engaged in a fierce and bloody war, without any knowledge among the people of where it would end, or in what condition the country would emerge. Now we have peace smiling over all the land, and its promise for many years to come. We have hundreds of thousands of soldiers emancipated from the field of arms to the field of labor, and from Sate to State goes up the hum of reconciliation, and a desire for renewed exertion and consequent prosperity. The lands devastated by the tramp of armies, and the homes laid waste by the invader of either side are once more being brought back to the standard they held five years ago. Hearths that have lost one kind familiar face, one that perhaps lies far away under the mould of some Southern battle-field, strive to close up the gap, and without forgetting the loved one, give thanks that, since he was taken, he should be taken in so good a cause.

A stranger coming among us would hardly believe, looking at our wealth, prosperity and happiness, that but a few months had elapsed since the most terrible war of the last thousand years has just closed; that thousands of miles of territory have been despoiled, and hundreds of thousands of territory have been despoiled, and hundreds of thousands of lives sacrificed. And yet in the face of this we have great cause for thankfulness. We are overburdened with natural wealth.

We have national recuperative power beyond telling, and we are, as a people, determined upon the ultimate greatness of the nation, and that is the grand secret of all our success.. . .

Our soldiers have hung up their bruised arms for monuments, and beneath the grandfather’s sword of 1776, and the father’s musket of 1814, the son’s of 1865, hangs suspended, there to hang—if the great moral example of the past five years is to have any effect on the world—until all fall with rust on the peaceful hearth.

The camp gives way to the pleasant church and the joys of home, the sword is almost literally beaten into a ploughshare, and the “hard tack” gies way to the thanksgiving turkey and the pumpkin pie.

Verily have we cause for thanksgiving.

--"The Thanksgiving of 1865," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, December 23, 1865, 221


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An American Antiquarian Society Online Exhibition
Curated by Lucia Z. Knoles, Professor of English, Assumption College

All primary sources in this exhibit are in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society.
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