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Northern CharacterCollege-Educated New Englanders, Honor, Nationalism, and Leadership in the Civil War Era$
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Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823271818

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823271818.001.0001

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“The Great People of the Future”

“The Great People of the Future”

American Civilization and National Character

(p.35) 2 “The Great People of the Future”
Northern Character

Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines how New Brahmins understood America’s role in the world. Taught to view America’s national story through a New England–centric lens, these young men saw free labor as the basis of the republic’s success while dismissing slavery and the southern founding story as alien and illegitimate. Using student essays and orations, the chapter argues that these New England college students saw the United States expanding its influence through trade and example around the world, a “metaphysical manifest destiny.” Such an understanding of the nation explains why these individuals reacted so forcefully to the threat of the Union’s dismemberment in 1861.

Keywords:   free labor, manifest destiny, nationalism

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