*An earlier version of this article was presented at the University of Edinburgh and at the British American Nineteenth Century Historians' conference in Edgefield, South Carolina. The author would like to thank all those who contributed comments on these occasions, along with the British Academy for an Overseas Conference Grant (OCG-39431), Jeremy Boulton for the loan of books and encouragement, and the anonymous readers for Nations and Nationalism who provided extremely generous suggestions for additional material for this article.
Raising the dead: war, memory and American national identity*
Version of Record online: 27 SEP 2005
Nations and Nationalism
Volume 11, Issue 4, pages 509–529, October 2005
How to Cite
Grant, S.-M. (2005), Raising the dead: war, memory and American national identity. Nations and Nationalism, 11: 509–529. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8129.2005.00217.x
- Issue online: 27 SEP 2005
- Version of Record online: 27 SEP 2005
Abstract. The dead, particularly the war dead, play a central role in the development of nationalism, nowhere more so than in America. America's mid-nineteenth century Civil War produced a recognisable and influential ‘cult of the dead’, comparable in its construction with similar developments in Europe following World War I. Focused on the figure of the fallen soldier, especially the volunteer soldier, this cult found physical expression in the development of national cemeteries devoted not just to the burial of those who fell in the war but to the idea of America as a nation, in the development of monuments to the dead that, again, reinforced the new national symbolism of the war era, and in the beginnings of Memorial Day, an American sacred ceremony with clear parallels with the later Armistice Day ceremonies in Europe. In all these developments, America preceded the European nations by several decades, making America a valuable case study for the role that the cult of the fallen soldier plays in national development more generally.