Stirring Up Confederate Brigadiers
 
From: bernhard1848@att.net
 
Reluctant to let the American South return to the forced Union with equal political rights, radical Republican leaders like James G. Blaine and John Logan preferred to use the “bloody shirt” to ensure their party’s hegemony. The latter helped marshal the postwar Grand Army of the Republic’s veteran vote for Republican success at the polls, but by the time of Grover Cleveland’s first administration, many in the North began to tire of the corrupt spectacle.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
www.cfhi.net  
 
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Stirring Up Confederate Brigadiers:
 
“Indicative of the new currents in both economic and political life, some Northern business groups now took the lead in working for friendly relations between North and South. Perhaps a passage from William Dean Howell’s widely read novel, The Rise of Silas Lapham (published 1884), is significant in this connection – significant because of Howell’s’ reputation as an accurate and faithful portrayer of the life and ideas of middle class New England of the 1880’s.
 
In one scene from this novel, Howells’ leading character, the self-made business man Silas Lapham (depicted as a former officer in the Union Army) opposed further waving of the bloody shirt by politicians:
 
“I hate to see them stirring up those Southern fellows agin,” said the Colonel [Silas Lapham], speaking into the paper on his lap. “Seems to me it’s time to let those old issues go.”
 
“Yes,” said [Lapham’s companion]…”What are they doing now?”
 
“Oh, stirring up the Confederate brigadiers in Congress. I don’t like it. Seems to me, if your party hain’t got any other stock-in-trade, we better shut up shop altogether.”
 
(Americans Interpret Their Civil War, Thomas J. Presley, 1954, Princeton University Press, page 155)