From Development to Desintegration: Elites and the Connectedness of Mountain Communities in Western North Carolina from the Antebellum Period to the End of the Civil War

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Hull, Colin W
Western North Carolina; American Civil War; Antebellum Period; Guerrilla Warfare; Civil War home front; Cultural History; Social History; United States History
thesis / dissertation description
This paper undertakes as study of western North Carolina and the connectedness of mountain communities as they developed and disintegrated over the course of the antebellum period and the American Civil War. The research and conclusions in this paper confront common stereotypes of Appalachia, which include individualism, backwardness, isolation, and unionism during the Civil War. These stereotypes and generalizations have been attributed to the region by early histories, outsider accounts, and popular representations and have led to a myth of an engrained mountain culture, embodying those stereotypes. Mountain communities were not stagnant and unchanged throughout the 19th century, but rather developed socially, politically, and economically through the antebellum period until 1862. However, beginning in 1862, mountain communities disintegrated under the stresses of war, as highlanders violently turned on each other. This created an internal and contained civil war within western North Carolina that ended tragically in collapse.