Print Сite this

Civil War Veterans and Crime in America

The post-war fate of veterans is not necessarily the most popular but an exceptionally topic in the study of many modern wars. It is certainly true for the American Civil War, which produced maimed, mentally affected, and otherwise traumatized people in a number unprecedented in American history at the time. The podcast by Handley-Cousins and Earls explores the ways in which American society and its disabled soldiers coped with the perceptions of service, disability, and government responsibility in a competent and informative historical study.

Our experts can deliver a customized essay
tailored to your instructions
for only $13.00 $11.05/page
308 qualified specialists online
Learn more

The podcast’s central message is that the Civil War, which produced much more veterans than any previous conflict in American history, raised a set of issues related to their post-war life and public perception. First of all, there was the issue of governmental pensions for the disabled. Firstly, it juxtaposed the commitment to honoring veterans and the characteristically American contempt for those relying on welfare.1 Moreover, it intertwined with the stigmatization of disability.2 As if that was not enough, American society also perceived the immediate aftermath of the Civil War as the time of a surge in veteran-perpetrated crime.3

Thus, the podcast’s idea is that the post-war public discourse was torn apart between the conflicting representations of veterans as honorable heroes, despicable welfare-seekers, pitifully disabled, and dangerously criminal – all at the same time.

The podcast provides plentiful information about the period and, specifically, the social norms that dominated the post-Civil War United States. Firstly, it elaborates on the idea of worthy poor – the groups that were supposed to be economically dependent – and explains how it contributed to the negative perception of disabled veterans.4 Secondly, it tells that the Union Civil War veterans became a powerful voting bloc to point out that political initiatives in post-War America had to consider their influence.5 Finally, it also tells how American papers of the post-war period coned and used the phrase “carnival of crime” to describe the perceived increase in crime after the war.6 These pieces of information help painting the broader picture of a social landscape against which the authors study the veterans.

The significance of this subject is due to the fact that, after the Civil War, American society faced the necessity to deal with often traumatized veterans on a grand scale for the first time in its history. While the United States waged wars before, the numbers of pension-eligible veterans they produced were fairly limited – for example, approximately 25,000 in the Revolutionary War.7 However, after the Civil War, the country had to cope with the human costs of mass mobilization for the first time, which makes the topic particularly important.

There is more than one thought-provoking thing to learn from the podcast. Learning that the definition of disability was based on performing menial tasks may prompt one to think of the importance of manual labor in American culture.8 Similarly, learning that the increase of convicts with military experience was merely the by-product of mass mobilization can get one thinking about separating correlation and causation in research.9

Another thing to learn is that, whatever the actual numbers were, the Northerners perceived the Civil War aftermath as a time of increased criminality.10 Come to think of it, it may showcase one of the ways in which the American society tried to rationalize the impact of previously unknown mass mobilization through the familiar categories of crime and punishment. Apart from all that, the podcast also points out how newspapers critical of government pensions took care to word their articles in order not to offend veterans.11 One may view it as the dawn of political correctness when delivering a political message should not alienate an important voter demographic.

On-Time Delivery! Get your 100% customized paper
done in
as little as 3 hours
Let`s start

The podcast’s style is fairly informal, which makes it easier for a layperson to perceive the information delivered yet does not detract from its academic value. Pronouncedly colloquial elements, such as the lengthened ‘but’ in outlining historiographical debates or a scenic gasp when discussing the papers’ coverage of veteran welfare, are likely there for audience engagement.12 Overall, the style is quite good in providing an easy-to-digest yet academically accurate picture of the conflicting attitudes toward veterans that persisted in American society.

At the same time, it is not devoid of limitations either. First and foremost, the podcast focuses on Union veterans specifically and sidesteps the Confederate ones.13 It is understandable when the authors discuss pensions, as the Confederates were obviously not entitled to them, but the broader discussion of trauma and criminality would have benefited from their inclusion. For example, Isherwood pointed out how Confederate veterans used the emerging mythology of the Lost Cause to cope with their mental and psychological trauma.14 The contrast between post-war experiences of Union and Confederate veterans could have been a valuable addition. While it would be clearly impossible to address everything within a single podcast, it would still be worthwhile to mention similarities and differences in the veterans’ adaptation and the public perception thereof for both sides of the war.

The issues discussed in the podcast are directly relevant for the contemporary United States for the simple reason that the problem of the public perception of veterans and the wars they participate in remains acute. The authors themselves note that promoting the discourse of heroic veterans may lead people “to support wars without questioning whether they are moral or just,” which is important considering current American involvement in foreign conflicts.15 The Civil War might have been the first time when American society had to incorporate numerous veterans traumatized by wartime experiences, but it was far from the last. Consequently, the related issues of rewarding service while not affecting public sensibilities remain as relevant today as they were in the late19th century.

Despite its informal style, the podcast is an example of a good historical study. First of all, the authors provide historiographical context, as when discoing the Abbott – Monkonnen debate regarding post-war criminality.16 Additionally, they point out specific examples and provide a list of sources for further inquiry, ensuring the research is source-based.17 Finally, they link the subject of their study to the present-day concerns and highlight its practical significance, which is also a mark of a solid historical study.

To summarize, the podcast by Handley-Cousins and Earls offers a well-delivered, if very concise, coverage of how the American nation dealt with the then-unprecedented influx of traumatized veterans. The authors cover the pension controversy, the stigma of dependence and disability, and the perceptions of increased criminality that dominated the public discourse of the time. Combining efficient style and thorough historical study, the podcast tells a lot about the period and allows learning more than one thought-provoking thing about the subject that remains important even today.

Bibliography

Handley-Cousins, Sarah, and Averill Earls. “The Age of Crime! Civil War Veterans and Crime in America.”. Web.

Isherwood, Ian K. “When the Hurlyburly’s Done / When the Battle’s Lost and Won: Service, Suffering, and Survival of Civil War and Great War Veterans.” The Journal of the Civil War Era 9, no. 1 (2019): 109-132.

We’ll deliver a custom paper tailored to your requirements.
Cut 15% off your first order
Use discount

Footnotes

  1. Sarah Handley-Cousins and Averill Earls, “The Age of Crime! Civil War Veterans and Crime in America”. 2021. Web.
  2. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  3. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  4. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  5. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  6. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  7. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  8. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  9. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  10. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  11. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  12. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  13. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  14. Ian A. Isherwood, “When the Hurlyburly’s Done / When the Battle’s Lost and Won: Service, Suffering, and Survival of Civil War and Great War Veterans,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 9, no. 1 (2019): 123.
  15. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  16. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime.”
  17. Handley-Cousins and Earls, “Age of Crime”.

Cite this paper

Select style

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2022, November 18). Civil War Veterans and Crime in America. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/

Reference

StudyCorgi. (2022, November 18). Civil War Veterans and Crime in America. https://studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/

Work Cited

"Civil War Veterans and Crime in America." StudyCorgi, 18 Nov. 2022, studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/.

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "Civil War Veterans and Crime in America." November 18, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/.


Bibliography


StudyCorgi. "Civil War Veterans and Crime in America." November 18, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "Civil War Veterans and Crime in America." November 18, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/civil-war-veterans-and-crime-in-america/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Civil War Veterans and Crime in America'. 18 November.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.