"A people peculiarly blessed": Community, Identity and Confederate Nationalism in an Alabama Planter Family, 1819-1876.

Austin, Marian (2019) "A people peculiarly blessed": Community, Identity and Confederate Nationalism in an Alabama Planter Family, 1819-1876. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis explores nationalism, state identity and community through the lens of one Southern planter family. The Crenshaw family are traced from their origins in Virginia, to South Carolina and thence to Alabama Territory during the first wave of migration between 1816 and 1819. Establishing a strong kinship community upon migration, they fostered an identity with their new state which superseded that of American or Confederate identity.
Employing genealogy as a research methodology to enhance the understanding of kinship networks, within the framework of a detailed analysis of the Crenshaw family’s archive, this research demonstrates how familial power dynamics created and redefined their identity as Alabamians, Southerners and Americans. Employing the framework of national vs. local identity, this project reflects on the relative importance of localism over and above national loyalty and the possibilities for localism superseding national identity prior to the Civil War and beyond.
Planters, lawyers and politicians, the Crenshaws belonged to the planter elite and as such accrued significant land and wealth, including a large community of enslaved people. Settling finally in Butler County, the core years addressed here examine their lives their 1817-1819 migration to the state through to the end of Reconstruction, tracing community establishment, education and the approach of the Civil War. The fortunes of the family in such a location were undeniably changed forever by their personal experiences of Civil War and Reconstruction.
Re-Appraising the established and current literature against a vast archive of newly discovered primary material, this thesis demonstrates, in contrast to some established beliefs, that family networks and community identity were an essential element in the success of family amidst this turbulent period in the 19th century United States. In the process, this project emphasizes the importance of local history in illuminating and enhancing broader historical processes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2019 16:24
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2019 16:24
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/73178


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