A Secret Society History of the Civil War

A Secret Society History of the Civil War

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This unique history of the Civil War considers the impact of nineteenth-century American secret societies on the path to as well as the course of the war. Beginning with the European secret societies that laid the groundwork for freemasonry in the United States, Mark A. Lause analyzes how the Old World's traditions influenced various underground groups and movements in America, particularly George Lippard's Brotherhood of the Union, an American attempt to replicate the political secret societies that influenced the European Revolutions of 1848.

Lause traces the Brotherhood's various manifestations, including the Knights of the Golden Circle (out of which developed the Ku Klux Klan), and the Confederate secret groups through which John Wilkes Booth and others attempted to undermine the Union. This book shows how, in the years leading up to the Civil War, these clandestine organizations exacerbated existing sectional tensions and may have played a part in key events such as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Lincoln's election, and the Southern secession process of 1860-1861.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 566.99g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252036557
  • 9780252036552

Review quote

"This work opens up enormous possibilities for future research, prompting us to reconsider--or indeed consider for the first time--people and perspectives that have been, at best, on the periphery of studies of the Civil War era."--Susan-Mary Grant, author of The War for a Nation: The American Civil War "A fascinating and provocative study that illuminates the history of the Civil War era by probing the relationship between political secret societies and social radicalism in Europe and antebellum reform and sectional crisis in the United States. This book will be a tremendous resource of information for scholars, and it is one of the most genuinely original works that I have ever read."--Robert E. May, author of Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America "Recommended."--Choice"A page-turning secret society history based on solid research and accuracy."--Southern Historian "Lause admirably demonstrates that a variety of voluntary organizations were active participants in antebellum America's political and racial struggles. . . . an impressive command of the intricate details of the many societies."--Nova Religio "Readers will gain a richly layered understanding of political paths not taken, and of a fertile transatlantic political word full of people with great imagination and hope for the future."--Indiana Magazine of History "A brilliant study of the transnational forces and structures that framed the origins of the Civil War."--The Historian"A well-researched, fascinating look at an often overlooked part of antebellum America that proves that sometimes conspiracy theories are legitimate."--Blue & Gray Magazine
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About Mark A. Lause

Mark A. Lause is a professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and the author of numerous books, including Young America: Land, Labor, and the Republican Community and Race and Radicalism in the Union Army.
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