Empire and Liberty brings together two epic subjects in American history: the story of the struggle to end slavery that reached a violent climax in the Civil War, and the story of the westward expansion of the United States. Virginia Scharff and the contributors to this volume show how the West shaped the conflict over slavery and how slavery shaped the West, in the process defining American ideals about freedom and influencing battles over race, property, and citizenship.
This innovative work embraces East and West, as well as North and South, as the United States observes the 2015 sesquicentennial commemoration of the end of the Civil War. A companion volume to an Autry National Center exhibition on the Civil War and the West, Empire and Liberty brings leading historians together to examine artifacts, objects, and artworks that illuminate this period of national expansion, conflict, and renewal.
List of Illustrations
Introduction - Virginia Scharff
1. The Price of Slavery across Empire: Family, Community, and Loss in Texas - Brenda E. Stevenson
2. The Frémonts: Agents of Empire, Legends of Liberty - John Mack Faragher
3. Beecher’s Bibles and Broadswords: Paving the Way for the Civil War in the West, 1854–1859 - Jonathan Earle
4. Liberty, Empire, and Civil War in the American West - Durwood Ball
5. When the Stars Fell from the Sky: The Cherokee Nation and Autonomy in the Civil War - Kent Blansett
6. On the Edge of Empires, Republics, and Identities: De la Guerra’s Sword of the War and the California Native Cavalry - Daniel Lynch
7. John Gast’s American Progress: Using Manifest Destiny to Forget the Civil War and Reconstruction - Adam Arenson
8. Empire and Liberty in the Middle of Nowhere - Virginia Scharff
9. The Not-So-Free Labor in the American Southwest - Maria E. Montoya
10. After Antietam: Memory and Memorabilia in the Far West - William Deverell
11. “You Brought History Alive for Us”: Reflections on the Lives of Nineteenth-Century Diné Women - Jennifer Denetdale
List of Contributors
Virginia Scharff is Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. She is the co-curator (with Carolyn Brucken) of the "Empire and Liberty" exhibition at the Autry National Center, where she serves as Women of the West Chair. Her previous works include Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the West; The Women Jefferson Loved; and Home Lands: How Women Made the West (with Carolyn Brucken).
"A wide-ranging, valuable addition to the literature on the American West that reveals the truly continental nature of one of America’s most defining struggles."—Publishers Weekly
"A signal contribution to the understanding of some central themes in US history . . . An important model for a new, broader use of material objects in understanding the country's past."—D. Steeples CHOICE
"Historians finally are addressing the serious task of retelling the Civil War as a fully American story, one truly continental in its causes and, most important, in its lessons and consequences. Empire and Liberty
is a long stride in that direction, and one doubly valuable because its many insights and revelations are grounded in the superb holdings of the Autry National Center. This is hands-on, eyes-on history at its finest."—Elliott West, author of The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story"
Virginia Scharff’s outstanding anthology places the theme of empire and the diverse racial landscapes of the American West at the center of the Civil War narrative. Empire and Liberty’s
essayists examine visual and material culture, oral history, memory, gender, and the experience of Native and Mexican peoples before and during the war and in its wake. Their efforts enrich our understanding of the nation’s most traumatic moment in myriad ways. Scholars and students of the Civil War, the West, and the nation will all benefit from this rich collection."—David Wrobel, author of Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire, and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression
"Taking items of material culture from the remarkable collection of the Autry National Center as their inspiration, the authors in this anthology of sparkling and provocative essays range far outside the familiar wartime geography and time frame to explore unconventional sagas of both well-known and little-known figures, events, and military clashes taking place in the farthest western reaches of the United States. A splendid read that offers fresh perspectives on a topic of continuing vital importance."—Joan Waugh, author of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth